President Obama announced plans in June, 2014 to require a 30% reduction in national power plant carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This would likely reduce total national emissions 6% by 2030.
Unfortunately, these cuts don’t come close to what is needed to save civilization. Science clearly demonstrates that we have already emitted carbon and other greenhouse gases beyond what is safe for humanity. To avoid dire consequences, we must reduce our net emissions to zero as quickly as possible, and then continue removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Further, Obama's plan does not overhaul our agricultural system, implement wide ranging adaptation measures, conduct a massive, Manhattan-project type research effort, or pressure other nations to reduce their national emissions to zero. In short, Obama’s plan is not a wartime plan.
It is clear to informed observers that Obama is not adequately responding to the crisis—and Congress is ignoring it altogether, caught up in a trance of denial, passivity, and narcissism. Our government will not lead us until the people demand that they do so. As polar explorer Robert Swan put it, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” We must not pass the buck—this is up to people like us.