The US government said on Monday it would start to regulate carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant, sidestepping a divided Congress to give momentum to global climate talks in Copenhagen.
The decision paves the way for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue standards on how much carbon dioxide US factories, buildings and cars can emit, even without legislation in Congress.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed orders declaring six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, to be pollutants that are subject to government regulation.
The EPA “is now authorized and obligated to make reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants,” Jackson told a news conference. “It means that we arrive at the climate talks in Copenhagen with a clear demonstration of our commitment to facing this global challenge.”
Jackson said the ruling would have only one immediate effect — the US would finalize its first nationwide carbon emission standards on light trucks.
It gives US President Barack Obama, who will visit the summit in Copenhagen, powerful new leverage to meet US pledges on emissions even if his critics in Congress derail legislation.
The EPA ruling is the culmination of government studies since April 2007, when five of the nine judges on the US Supreme Court agreed that carbon dioxide was a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
“It’s a signal from the administration heading into Copenhagen that, look, we’ve got things going on in Congress, but we’re also not going to wait for them,” said Joe Mendelson, the global warming policy director for the National Wildlife Federation who worked on the Supreme Court case.
The move has already faced fierce resistance by business leaders and many lawmakers of the rival Republican Party.
The US Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s top business lobby, feared that businesses would be subject to a host of new regulations at a time of economic uncertainty.
Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s president, said that the EPA threatened to “choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project.”
Key Republicans have also pointed to recent leaked e-mails from prominent climate scientists that they say call into question the basis behind action on global warming.
“It is unconscionable that unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have declared carbon dioxide a public danger despite a lack of scientific evidence to support their ruling,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said. “Today’s ruling continues a pattern of aggressive federal encroachment into every farm, business, church and household in America.”
Another Republican governor — Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, which has been at the forefront of fighting global warming — hailed Obama for turning climate action into a national rather than state priority.
“Climate change is real and it is welcome news to see that the US EPA is taking its head out of the sand,” Schwarzenegger said.
Climate scientists behind the leaked e-mails said that their remarks were taken out of context — assertions backed by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
“I think that this notion that there is some debate on the science is kind of silly,” Gibbs said.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll out on Monday found that Americans were increasingly skeptical.
Forty-five percent of the 1,041 adults polled believed global warming was a proven fact and mostly caused by human activity, down from 56 percent in October 2007, the survey found.
The House of Representatives in June narrowly approved legislation to set up the first US nationwide “cap-and-trade” system — similar to a plan in Europe that restricts emissions, but offers businesses an economic incentive by allowing trading in credits.
Both Jackson and Democratic congressional leaders said they still preferred a cap-and-trade system, as it would affect the entire economy.
“The message to Congress is crystal clear: Get moving,” said Senator John Kerry, an author of the legislation.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”