President Obama’s speech today laying out a climate change agenda shows his focus and commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Also, his plan is built on actions his administration can take without congressional approval—an important aspect of the proposal because climate change is so controversial on Capitol Hill. However, this also limits the breadth of the proposal and many of the key aspects of his proposal are already ongoing. So what does it mean going forward? The administration’s proposals are meaningful and will reduce the carbon output in the U.S., but the impact will not be immediate because of the implementation lags. Some proposals—including the key clean air rules governing carbon emissions from power plants—will be litigated for years.

The president’s Climate Action Plan has three major pieces: cutting carbon output, preparing the country for the impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to cut carbon output.

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