Monday, December 9, 2013

Obama Increases Federal Renewable Energy Adding to His Climate Action Plan

In his most recent effort to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama has indicated that he will triple the amount of federal energy derived from renewable sources. This is another significant step forward in the effort to curtail US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although impeded by Republicans at every turn under Obama's leadership federal agencies have already decreased their carbon emissions by 15 percent.

In response to Republicans hell-bent efforts to shut down his legislative agenda, the President has once again been forced to use his executive privileges to advance the federal governments efforts to combat climate change. His latest executive order was signed on Thursday December 5, and it will nearly triple the federal government's use of renewable energy from 7 percent to more than 20 percent.

To “promote energy security, combat climate change, protect the interests of taxpayers, and safeguard the health of our environment, the federal government must lead by example,” declared a memorandum from the president announcing the order.

This move comes more than a year after the administration finalized new vehicle fuel standards that would require cars and light duty trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025. On Tuesday December 3, the administration announced a plan to help retrofit multifamily housing units and condominiums with energy efficiency upgrades. The administration also released a 2014 fuel economy guide to promote efficient vehicles among consumers.

Obama knows all too well what is at stake. In his June 29th 2013 address he made the point that Americans are already paying for climate change.

"Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in higher food costs, insurance premiums and the tab for rebuilding," the President said. "The question is not whether we need to act the question is whether we will have the courage to act before its too late," Obama said.

Obama's national climate action plan will cut carbon pollution, protect the US from the impacts of climate change and lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate.

To achieve these objectives he has pledged to

1. Reduce carbon from power plants
2. Enhance efficiency
3. Increase levels of clean energy
4. Build smarter more resilient infrastructure
5. Encourage developing countries to transition to cleaner sources of power

As the President point out, to move forward "we must all shoulder the responsibility." That means that we all must do our part to be more innovative and creative in our pursuit of a low carbon economy. Scientists, engineers and businesses have a central role to play in realizing this vision.

As explained by Obama, political leaders, need to be "less concerned about special interests and well connected donors and more concerned about the judgement of our children."

Each and every one of us needs to educate others and speak up in our communities. Fundamentally, the issue comes down to an understanding that "there is no contradiction between a sound environment and a strong economy."

As we are about to wade into the 2014 midterm campaign, Americans need to send a message to politicians who continue to deny the veracity of climate change or who refuse to act. As the President said, they must be informed that, "sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote"

American action on climate change is vital. "[W]e will be judged as a people, as a society as a country on where we go from here. If we remember what is at stake the world we leave to our children I am convinced that this is a challenge we will meet," Obama said.

The President is not surrendering to the GOP's ignorance and intransigence, he is using his executive powers to  lead the US in the direction of more responsible climate stewardship.  

The President is stuck between the Republican's knee jerk obstructionism and environmentalists who fail to understand how he has been hamstrung by the GOP's gridlock strategy. Nonetheless, he is using his executive privileges to move beyond the tedious politically motivated debates on the veracity of climate change and resistance due to concerns about the costs of action.

To his credit, Obama appreciates the urgency of action. He listens to scientists who say categorically that climate change is real and he acknowledges the argument of economists who state that the longer we wait the more it will cost.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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