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President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced the Climate Action Plan, a national plan for tackling climate change. This marked a historic turning point, as the President used his executive authority to push forward a climate change agenda. The plan, divided into three sections, outlines steps to cut carbon pollution in the United States, including standards for both new and existing power plants, actions to prepare the US for the impacts of climate change, and plans to lead international efforts to address global climate change. A description of each of these sections and links of reactions can be found below.

 

Official Climate Action Plan Materials:

Speech Transcript |    Full PDF of Plan |    Infographic |     Fact Sheet

Reducing Carbon Pollution in the United States


The President’s Climate Action Plan directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish the first ever restrictions on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of unregulated emissions in the United States. The Administration’s plan for developing these standards, a hallmark of the President’s climate agenda, is outlined in more detail in a separate Presidential Memorandum. Also, the President’s Climate Action Plan fast-tracks permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands, increases funding for clean energy technology and efficiency improvements, and calls for improved efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, as well as heavy trucks. The plan additionally establishes the first-ever Federal Quadrennial Energy Review to encourage strategic national energy planning and outlines plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane, two pollutants that trap even more heat than carbon dioxide in the near term. These initiatives will save lives, prevent illnesses, and reduce climate change, all while bolstering the economy with investments in clean energy and new technologies that put Americans to work. To learn more about reducing carbon pollution from power plants, click here.

 

Preparing the US for the Impacts of Climate Change


Extreme weather and other climate impacts are already affecting communities and businesses in the United States. The President’s Climate Action Plan reflects this challenge and outlines strategies to better integrate climate risk management and preparedness planning into federal infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management planning. President Obama’s resilience initiatives target constituencies from the federal to the local scales, and in November 2013, Obama established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience to help inform these efforts. The plan also outlines strategies to better integrate climate risk management and preparedness planning into federal infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management planning. In particular, his plan highlights work begun in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in response to its impacts on mid-Atlantic infrastructure. Obama’s signature initiative, thus far, has been his executive order on “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” which mandated interagency coordination to assess, modernize, and report on efforts to increase climate change preparedness and resilience. To access a list of USCAN member resources related to climate risks and resiliency, click here.

 

International Efforts to Address Climate Change


The final component of the President’s Climate Action Plan calls for the United States to lead in addressing global climate change internationally. The President believes that to create a global solution, the challenges of emissions reductions and resiliency must be met abroad as well as at home. While many of the provisions within the plan are not new, the plan reinforces a commitment to driving action through the international negotiations and through international initiatives, such as bilateral agreements already forged with China. The President committed to expand existing bilateral and multilateral agreements with other major emitters of greenhouse gases as well as to address public sector financing of clean energy and resilience for regions vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Between summer 2013 and spring 2014, for instance, the US entered several agreements with China and India to curb emissions. By calling for an end to public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas except in limited circumstances (i.e., the most efficient coal technologies available in poor countries in cases where no other economically feasible alternative exists, or with the deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technologies), the President also shows he intends to lead globally in public financing of cleaner energy. To learn more about international efforts to combat climate change, click here.

Reactions

 

After the President’s plan was announced, many civil society organizations, businesses, members of Congress, and the press released their responses. Below is a compilation of USCAN members’ and allies’ reactions, analyses, and other selected responses to the President’s Climate Action Plan.

USCAN Members & Allies

Press Statements

Analyses

 

Congressional

Senate Statements

House Statements

Other Statements

 

 

 

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