'Biggest step vs. climate change': Obama unveils plan to cut coal plant emissions

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Clean Power Plan at the White House in Washington on Aug. 3, 2015.Reuters

United States President Barack Obama announced on Sunday his government's major plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants in the country, which he described to be America's "biggest, most important step... to combat climate change."

In a video statement from the White House, Obama unveiled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s "Clean Power Plan," which sets specific carbon emission reduction standards for all states to follow.

The plan provides incentives to states that meet standards on low-income energy efficiency and renewable energy.

"Today after working with states and cities and power companies, the EPA is setting the first ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants. Washington is starting to catch up with the vision of the rest of the country," Obama said in the video statement.

"We're the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it," he added.

Obama called climate change the greatest "threat" to the future of the planet.

The Clean Power Plan specifically targets the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from power stations in the US by 32 percent within 15 years—a figure steeper than expected.

"Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. Until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump in the air," Obama said.

The greenhouse gas emission reduction plan, however, is already facing opposition from the coal industry, which faces profit and job cuts.

The Murray Energy Corporation, a coal mining company, for instance, is already threatening to sue the government due to the proposal. Other players in the coal industry are also expected to follow suit.

Obama, however, said he is not declaring "war" against the coal industry.

"If we don't do it nobody will. America leads the way forward... that's what this plan is about. This is our moment to get something right and get something right for our kids," the US President said.

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