President Obama has just taken an initiative to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by the US power generating industry to 30% below their 2005 levels by the year 2030. This industry produces a large fraction of the US emission of greenhouse gases. The initiative effectively turns the USA from a laggard on action on global warming to a leader and it fulfils Obama’s promise to take such drastic action. Obama has had to use his executive powers as President to do this, bypassing a hostile congress in which the Republican Party has a majority. It is sad that this party is populated by representatives who either downplay the future problems which global warming is likely to bring and sometimes even deny the science behind it.

We have similar problems in this country with our right wing press and some mainly right wing politicians. All this despite the fact that almost all climate scientists agree that greenhouse gas emissions emitted by human activity are almost entirely responsible for the global warming seen in the 20th century.

This initiative puts pressure on other Governments to follow suit and take global warming seriously. For example the Australian Government under Prime Minister Tony Abbot, which is only committed to a modest decrease of greenhouse gases, has said that Australia will act when other governments act. Such Governments now have no excuse.

Another positive step in the fight against global warming is the recent Chinese announcement to reduce its carbon emissions. China is an even bigger producer of greenhouse gases than the USA, though it's emissions are, per capita, only one quarter of those of the USA and one half of those of the United Kingdom.

These announcements are very good news and give a good start to tackling global warming at the next summit in Paris in 2015. However, there is still much to do and the experts assure us that the longer we delay the more serious will be the consequences of inaction.

Clyde Mitchell

July 2014