What you need to know about Obama’s Clean Power Plan

The world certainly has cause for celebration today as yet another world leader shows strong determination to reduce carbon emissions.

President Obama has just released the final version of his ambitious Clean Power Plan, a piece of climate policy run through the United States' Environmental Protection Authority.

The plan is mainly focused on cutting carbon emissions from power plants across America but also looks at issues such as capping carbon dioxide limits for new power plants being built and cracking down on methane leaks and emissions from sources such as oil wells.

The White House has even released an inspiring video to explain just how strongly the government believes in this new plan:

How does the plan work?

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will present each state with a tailor-made goal for significantly reducing carbon emissions surrounding electricity production. Each state then has to work out how this goal will be reached, submitting their plans to do so by 2018 in order to start seeing results by 2022.

The catch for reluctant states is that if they fail to produce a viable plan, the EPA will create a plan for them.

How will states make these changes?

There is no shortage of advice from climate scientists, designers and innovators about how to move away from unsustainable energy sources such as coal. Wind, solar, hydro and geothermal are all potential replacements to help get states on track, with each state having conditions more suited to some types of energy production.

Targeting power plants is a big deal. In 2013, they accounted for 31% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. That's the largest single source of emissions!

Other plans might involve legislating big business from over-polluting, or providing rebates for residents who want to turn their homes into sustainable dwellings.

So, what does this mean in real-world terms?

1. It will support Obama's wider climate plan.

The Clean Power Plan is not the only action the US government is taking to combat the alarming pace of climate change. In the lead up to Paris 2015, we will likely see a number of other plans emerge from the Whitehouse as well as from the other decision-making capitals throughout the world.

At the heart of this new plan is a challenge to all of us, not just Americans, to think about sustainability creatively. How can we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels? How can we change our mindset about what "sustainable" means?

Climate change is no longer just about the future that we're predicting for our children or grandchildren, it's about the reality that we're living with every day
- President Obama

2. It has the potential to transform the power industry of one of the world's greatest emitters of carbon dioxide.

The Plan will hopefully create a push towards clean energy not just being seen as an alternative, but the only realistic option for the future. Ideally, this change would be seen in every state in the US.

Added together, the changes made by each state are estimated to reduce carbon emissions by around 32% from 2005 figures (Source: EPA).

3. The influence of the United States could see a domino effect of change occurring throughout the world.

Without doubt the United States plays a significant role on the world stage. Whether we like it or not, politicians from Australia to Austria want to know what our neighbours in Washington DC are talking about.

As with any piece of policy, the results of Obama's plan will be determined by the individual state governments implementing clean energy solutions successfully, as well as how future governments, both in America and overseas, keep the dream of a more sustainable future alive.

READ THIS NEXT: [Paris 2015] It's time to take global action to save the planet

Banner image: Susan Walsh / Associated Press

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