Thursday, January 15, 2015

President Obama the Climate Hawk

The President is serious about positioning the US as an international climate leader. The President did accomplish a great deal in his first term, but his climate advocacy is coming to fruition in his second.

Very early on President Obama announced his desire to see an "Apollo project" to build a new energy economy. He spawned a number of incentives programs for renewable energy and efficiency and EVs. Subsequently he instructed the EPA to impose US vehicle efficiency standards.

Although he has used his executive privileges to advance his green agenda, he has signed far fewer executive orders than his predecessors.

His emergence as a climate hawk began in earnest with his landmark speech at Georgetown University in 2013. In this speech he laid out his climate agenda and set the stage for him to assume his role as a climate hawk. In that speech the president characterized US efforts “to lead the global fight against carbon pollution as a moral obligation to act on behalf of future generations.”

The president’s plan involves cutting greenhouse gases, preparing the nation for climate impacts and leading global efforts to address climate change. "Climate change represents one of the major challenges of the 21st century, but as a nation of innovators, we can and will meet this challenge in a way that advances our economy, our environment, and public health all at the same time," according to the White House.

Carbon Reduction Plan
  • Directs EPA to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
  • Provides $8 billion in loan guarantees for innovative technologies in advanced fossil energy and efficiency.
  • Directs DOI to permit renewables on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes.
  • Sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020.
  • Reaffirmed his commitment to deploy renewables on military installations.
  • Better Building Challenge will improve efficiency and cut waste by 20 percent by 2020.
  • Energy efficiency plan for federal buildings to cut carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons by 2030.
  • Fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Reduction of hydrofluorocarbons.
  • Directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy.
  • Protection of forests and critical landscapes.

Preparing for the Impacts of Climate Change
  • Directs agencies to support local climate-resilient investment.
  • Innovative strategies to protect against extreme weather and other climate impacts.
  • Additional flood risk reduction standards.
  • Launches an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals.
  • Agricultural initiatives designed to inform farmers and enhance productivity.
  • Help communities prepare for drought and wildfire.
  • Provides climate preparedness tools and information

Lead International Efforts to Address Global Climate Change
  • Commits to expand major new and existing international initiatives.
  • End US government support for public financing of new coal-fired powers plants overseas.
  • Strengthens global resilience to climate change
President Obama's most notable climate achievements have occurred in 2014 and 2015.  He has instructed the EPA to move forward with a number of initiatives including new rules for power plants (efficiency measures), methane emissions and coal ash. The President is working with China to combat climate change and he has signed ambitious GHG reduction agreement with that nation. He has promised to cut US greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 27 percent by 2025.

The President is forging an enduring climate legacy that will benefit the US and the world for generations to come.

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