Hundreds of businesses including eBay, Nestle and General Mills have issued their support for Barack Obama’s clean power plan, billed as the strongest action ever on climate change by a U.S. President.
The rules, being announced on Monday, are designed to cut emissions from power plants and have been strengthened in terms of the long-term ambition as originally proposed by the president last year, but slightly weakened in the short-term in a concession to states reliant on highly-polluting coal.
White House adviser Brian Deese said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules represented the “biggest step that any single president has made to curb the carbon pollution that is fuelling climate change”. The U.S. is the world’s second biggest carbon emitter after China.
The rules are expected to trigger a “tsunami” of legal opposition from States and utilities who oppose the plans, which will significantly boost wind and solar power generation and force a switch away from coal power. Republican presidential hopefuls moved quickly to voice their opposition, saying they would be economically damaging.
But 365 businesses and investors wrote to 29 state governors to strongly support the rules, which they said would benefit the economy and create jobs.
Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, a network of investors that organised the letter, said: “The clean power plan is the right measure at the right time. It’s a flexible, practical and economically sound blueprint to transition America toward a low-carbon future.”
Other signatories included Unilever, L’Oreal, Levi Strauss, L’Oreal, Staples, renewable energy company SunEdison and Trillium Asset Management, which manages $2.2 billion in assets. It is the largest group of businesses to support the rules so far.
The final rules propose a 32 per cent cut in carbon emissions from power plants by 2030 on 2005 levels, up from the initial proposal of 30 per cent.
However, states will only have to comply by 2022 rather than 2020 as originally proposed, and will be able submit their plans on meeting the targets by 2018 instead of 2017.
America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a trade body, said it was “disappointed and discouraged” by the rules. The Solar Energy Industries Association, on the other hand, said they were “historic” and “critically needed.” The new rules will give a “give a head start to wind and solar deployment”, according to a White House fact sheet.
1. Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution
In a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of north-west India, the Union Home Ministry will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains.
Top Home Ministry sources have confirmed that a Bill is in the works to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry has vetted the amendments.
“This is an idea floated right after the Modi government came to power, but it was found that many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired. Therefore, these people are illegal migrants and ineligible for citizenship,” a top official said. Several high-level meetings were held by the Ministry with the Law Minister, the Law Secretary and the Home Secretary to remedy the situation.
“Basically, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered,” a source said.