01/07/2013 06:05 pm ET Updated Mar 08, 2013

Foreign Policy on '10 Problems Obama Could Solve Right Now' Including Global Warming

When Foreign Policy magazine went looking for 10 problems President Obama "could solve right now," they put global warming on the list. Mind you, "President Obama isn't going to halt the rise of the oceans in his second term." And it'll be tough to do what's necessary, but there are a few things the president can do, all without Congressional approval.

The president can start by setting an example in his own house, quite literally. Based on Executive Order 13514, signed in October 2009, Obama established a 28 percent emissions-reduction goal for the federal government by 2020. While working toward this goal, the administration should take the opportunity to implement a tried-and-true market approach: Follow the lead of some big corporations like Microsoft and make each part of the government financially accountable for its greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on carbon dioxide -- at least the roughly $20 per ton established by the federal government's own interagency working group as the single best value. That would allow the government to meet its overall target the most cost-effective way possible.

Other key ideas:

  • Use existing legal authority under the tried-and-true Clean Air Act to cut power plant pollution, both from new and existing sources.
  • Build on the success of strengthening greenhouse gas and fuel-economy standards for cars and extend them to heavy and medium-duty vehicles, ranging from 18-wheelers to commercial delivery trucks.
  • Get methane leakage under control. Natural gas can have half the climate impact of coal, with the emphasis on "can." Methane leakage could actually make it worse, and President Obama has the power to ensure that's not the case.

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