Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Obama Administration's Climate Action (Spring - Summer 2013)

In the spring and summer of 2013, President Obama and his administration showed bold leadership on climate change. These actions, both domestic and international, are positioning the US as global leader on efforts to combat climate change.

The Obama Administration's initiatives are consistent with the President's climate action plan which was announced in June. This plan reigns in coal emissions, and signals an end to the US coal industry.

On April 14, 2013, the US has also agreed to work with China, Japan, the EU, Brazil, India and South Africa to reduce climate change causing greenhouse gases (GHGs). In a joint statement these countries announced that they would accelerate action by advancing cooperation on technology, research, conservation, and alternative and renewable energy. 

At a June meeting President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to reduce climate-changing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. This informal agreement blossomed into an announcement on Friday September 6 at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg where the US and China announced that they would seek to eliminate some of the world’s most potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) using the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The US along with all members of the G20 also reached a broader agreement to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

On September 8, US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a new climate change fund for Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels. In a separate deal, the US agreed to provide $24 million over five years for projects in vulnerable coastal communities. in the Pacific.

In the new Pacific regional pact known as the Majuro Declaration, the US, Australia, New Zealand and the heads of state of 12 other Pacific states are calling for aggressive action to combat climate change.

The 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) pact signed at a summit early in September contains specific pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions. What makes this deal so extraordinary is the fact that it goes beyond reductions and calls for a complete "phase down" of GHGs.

The implications of the pact include support for renewable energy, a cessation of new fossil fuel development and an end to hydrocarbon subsidies. It acknowledges the gross insufficiency of current GHG reduction efforts and pledges to act ahead of commitments from other nations.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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