According to new analysis by the World Meteorological Organizatio n, despite recent fluctuations in global temperature year to year, which fueled claims of global cooling.
The decade of the 2000s is very likely the warmest decade in the modern record, dating back 150 years, according to a provisional summary of climate conditions near the end of 2009, the organization said.
The period from 2000 through 2009 has been “warmer than the 1990s, which were warmer than the 1980s and so on,” said Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the international weather agency, speaking at a news conference at the climate talks in Copenhagen, The New York Times reports.
The Obama administration's greenhouse gas ruling Monday was meant to send a warning to industry, the U.S. Congress, and the world: with or without a law, Washington will tackle global warming in a serious way.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a final ruling that greenhouse gases endanger human health, allowing it to put limits on emissions even if U.S. lawmakers fail to pass a law to achieve the same objective.
As e EPA made its announcement, negotiators from nearly 200 countries met in Copenhagen to work toward a political agreement to address climate change.
The timing was no coincidence: the EPA announcement was aimed at an international audience as much as a domestic one.
The U.S. position at the talks is undermined by not having a domestic law in place to curb emissions, but the EPA ruling should reassure other nations that Washington will force businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution one way or another, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, as a result of EPA regulation, U.S. companies could also face higher operating costs than foreign competitors, says Larry Kavanagh of the American Iron and Steel Institute. The institute wants legislation crafted to help U.S. companies stay competitive – while still cutting emissions – via trade measures, rebates and other incentives.
Congress could override EPA's regulations or retain them.
Either way, the "train is moving down the tracks" to regulate emissions, says David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. He says that's key "to rebuilding the economy along clean-energy lines."
The EPA's decision is expected to face legal challenges. Shortly after the announcement, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public interest group, said it would file a lawsuit to overturn the EPA's finding on the grounds that EPA ignored scientific issues around global climate modeling.
The carbon dioxide decision comes seven months after the Obama administration set national rules to improve auto fuel efficiency nearly 40% by 2016, which would reduce tailpipe emissions. Given a Supreme Court ruling, the EPA's finding on carbon dioxide is needed before it can regulate carbon dioxide emissions from autos, factories and power plants, USA Today reports.