One-Year Anniversary of the Climate Action Plan

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. In the last year, the Obama administration has made unprecedented progress in putting forward policies to reduce our carbon emissions, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change.

To mark the anniversary, the White House released a new report yesterday detailing our progress toward cutting carbon pollution and protecting our communities and public health.

The new report provides an excellent overview of what the USG has done on climate change in the last year, and I encourage you to take a look.

President Barack Obama, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, center, talks with EPA staff members who worked on the power-plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan — its proposed commonsense carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. While EPA limits toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic, there are currently no limits on the amount of carbon emitted by power plants, the largest single source of harmful pollution. The Clean Power Plan will help modernize the aging power sector, drive innovation, protect public health, and put our nation on the path toward a 30% reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030.

President Obama Announces New Truck Fuel Efficiency Standards

In February, the President directed EPA and the Transportation Department to develop and issue the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. These new fuel efficiency standards will build upon the Administration’s 2009 directive to establish more stringent fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans for Model Year 2014-2018. The standards are expected to save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the pump along the way.

Setting New Energy Efficiency Standards

Cutting our energy waste remains one of the easiest and cheapest ways to combat climate change. In the last year, the Energy Department has issued nine proposed energy conservation standards for appliances and equipment, and finalized eight energy conservation standards. These final rules are expected to reduce carbon pollution by 340 million metric tons through 2030, with more reductions coming later once the proposals are finalized.

Expanding the Better Buildings Challenge

The President’s Better Buildings Challenge, which is focused on helping American buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020, continues to drive progress. Since the Climate Action Plan was released, 80 new cities, school districts, and businesses across the country have made commitments to join the Better Buildings Challenge and improve the energy efficiency of more than 1 billion square feet – an area the size of 17,000 football fields. This includes 65 new Multifamily Partners, representing over 300,000 households that have joined the Better Buildings Partnership since June 2013.

Interagency Methane Strategy

To build on our progress to date and take steps to further cut methane emissions, the Administration released a Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions in March, outlining cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards to reduce methane emissions.

DOI Announces New Renewable Energy Projects

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is making progress toward the Climate Action Plan goal of permitting enough renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes. Since June 2013, DOI has approved six solar energy, two wind energy, and two geothermal projects. When built, these projects will have a total capacity of up to 1,900 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power over 650,000 homes, and could support more than 3,200 construction and operations jobs.

Climate Data Initiative

In March, the Administration, led by NOAA and NASA, launched the Climate Data Initiative, an ambitious new effort bringing together extensive open government data with commitments from the private and philanthropic sectors to develop planning and resilience resources for local communities. This effort will help give communities across America the information and tools they need to plan for current and future climate impacts.

National Climate Assessment

In May, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy.

Leading Internationally

The Administration has made substantial progress in implementing the President’s announcement to end U.S. public financing for new conventional coal plants overseas, except in the poorest countries. Seven countries have already announced that they would join the U.S. coal finance policy, including the United Kingdom, the five Nordic countries, and the Netherlands. The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and European Investment Bank all announced similar policies in the second half of 2013.


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