White House Background on Addressing Climate Change
THE WHITE HOUSE Addressing Climate ChangePresident Obama recognizes that climate change poses an economic, security, and environmental threatthat demands a decisive response. The impacts of climate change – including warmer temperatures,extreme weather, and sea level rise - are already being felt, across the Nation and around the world.By building on important progress achieved during the President’s first term, the United States canmeet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas pollution 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and makeadditional progress in forging a robust international response to this global challenge. We must alsoimprove our ability to manage the climate impacts that are already being felt at home and around theworld. Preparing for increasingly extreme weather and other consequences of climate change will savelives now and help to secure long-term American prosperity. To that end, the President is committed tobuilding stronger, more resilient infrastructure and communities. Cutting carbon pollution: In 2009, President Obama set a goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. During the first term we have made important progress towards that goal. The President has called on Congress to finish the job and stated that he will use existing authorities to cut carbon pollution absent Congressional action. Catalyzing broad-based national action to double both renewable electricity generation and energy productivity: Building on momentum from the first term, the President is calling for doubling renewable electricity by 2020 and overall energy productivity by 2030. The Administration will continue to work with Congress, state and local leaders, Tribes, the private sector, and civil society to reach these objectives, including through the launch of a Race to the Top challenge to spur energy efficiency progress at the state level. Helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other climate impacts: The Administration is committed to partnering with governors, mayors and other leaders to help bolster climate change resilience and encourage innovative approaches to local planning and preparedness.Taking New ActionPresident Obama set a goal to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levelsby 2020. During the first term we have made significant progress towards that goal. The President hasdirected his cabinet to identify additional executive actions from across the administration to helpreduce pollution, prepare our cities and nation for the worsening effects of climate change, andaccelerate the transition to more sustainable sources of energy, which will be assessed if Congress doesnot take action. In addition, the Administration will seek partnerships with states, localities andbusinesses to make progress together and challenge federal agencies to reduce their own carbonpollution. Given that climate change is a global problem, the Administration will also seek to galvanizeglobal action to slash greenhouse gas and other climate pollution by all major emitters.
Setting a new goal to double American renewable electricity generation again by 2020. In order to double generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources by 2020, relative to 2012 levels, the President called on Congress to make the renewable energy Production Tax Credit permanent and refundable, which will provide incentive and certainty for investments in new clean energy. Instead of continuing century-old subsidies to oil companies, the President believes that we need to invest in the energy of the future. Established a new goal to double American energy productivity by 2030. The President issued a bold but achievable goal to cut our economy’s energy waste in half over the next twenty years. More specifically, the Administration will take action aimed at doubling the economic output per unit of energy consumed in the United States by 2030, relative to 2010 levels. o Announced a new Energy Efficiency Race to the Top challenge for states. Modeled after a successful Administration approach in education reform, which was designed to promote forward-leaning policies at the state-level, the President’s budget includes $200 million in Race to the Top awards to support state governments that implement effective policies to cut energy waste. Key opportunities for states to increase energy productivity include: modernizing utility regulations to encourage cost-effective investments in efficiency like combined heat and power, clean distributed generation, and demand response resources; enhancing and standardizing financing tools for efficiency upgrades; adopting and enforcing the latest building codes; and improving grid operations. Not only will increased efficiency save consumers money, the resulting reforms will drive investments that enhance manufacturing competitiveness, improve grid resiliency, and cut carbon pollution. o Committing to build on the success of existing partnerships with the public and private sector to use energy wisely. Over the next four years, the President is committed to accelerating progress on energy productivity including through the Better Buildings Challenge, improving energy data access for consumers through the "Green Button" initiative, and making appliances even more efficient - saving consumers money, spurring innovation, and strengthening domestic manufacturing. Partnering with governors, mayors and other leaders to help American communities prepare for climate impacts: The President is proposing a “Resilient Communities Challenge” to bolster climate change preparedness. This program would encourage innovative approaches to local planning and preparedness, such as resilient building codes, cost-effectiveness models for climate change response, designs for using natural infrastructure to increase resilience, and constructing resilient infrastructure. Promoting Safe and Responsible Use of Natural Gas in the Power and Transportation Sectors: Our domestic natural gas resources are reducing energy costs across the economy – for manufacturers investing in new facilities and families benefiting from lower heating costs. The President’s budget will invest more than $40 million in research to ensure safe and responsible natural gas production and a new $25 million prize for the first, natural gas combined cycle power plant to integrate carbon capture and storage. The President is also committed to accelerating the growth of this domestically abundant fuel and other alternative fuels in the transportation sector in a way that benefits our planet, our economy, and our energy security.
Leading Internationally: The Administration will seek to galvanize global action to slash greenhouse gas and other climate pollution by all major emitters through key fora such as the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, the Clean Energy Ministerial, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, while pressing for continued progress through the international climate negotiations, the Montreal Protocol, and supporting the IAEA mission on safe, secure, peaceful uses of nuclear energy.Building on ProgressThese new actions build on significant first term progress in cutting carbon pollution and supportingpreparedness for extreme weather and other climate change impacts: Cut pollution and saved money for consumers through energy efficiency. During President Obama’s first term, significant progress was made in cutting domestic carbon pollution by raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025; establishing first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks; weatherizing more than 1 million homes and forging private and public partnerships to drive investments in energy efficiency in commercial buildings; and setting appliance efficiency standards for nearly 40 products that will save consumers hundreds of billions off their utility bills through 2030. Delivered on commitment to double renewable energy during the first term. Since 2008, the U.S. has doubled renewable generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. Weve helped develop nearly 50,000 new clean energy projects that are supporting jobs all across the country. Last year, the President set a goal to permit 10,000 megawatts of renewables on public lands – a goal the Interior Department achieved. America is now home to some of the largest wind and solar farms in the world. Improving manufacturing competitiveness and enhancing our energy infrastructure. Last summer, the President issued an Executive Order to accelerate investment in industrial energy efficiency, including setting a new challenge to achieve 40 gigawatts of new combined heat and power (CHP) by 2020. Achieving the President’s CHP goal will save energy users, such as homes and businesses, $10 billion per year in energy costs and reduce carbon pollution by 150 million metric tons, the equivalent of 25 million cars. Cut federal government carbon pollution: In 2010, President Obama announced that the federal Government would reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent by 2020. Agencies are also meeting the President’s directive to enter into at least $2 billion in performance-based contracts by the end of this year to achieve substantial energy savings at no net cost to American taxpayers. Developed first-ever plans to safeguard federal investments and natural resources in the face of climate change: Through the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force launched by the President, agencies have developed their first-ever climate change adaptation plans to ensure smart decisions that protect taxpayer investments and safeguard the health and safety of communities, economies, and infrastructure. Launched new programs and partnerships to improve resilience to climate impacts: Federal agencies have launched a number of programs targeted at increasing preparedness and resilience to
climate change impacts. For example, The U.S. Department of Transportation has partnered with local Departments of Transportation across the country to pilot approaches to conduct vulnerability assessments of transportation infrastructure and analyze options for improving resiliency. In addition, federal agencies are working with local governments to provide technical assistance to evaluate threats of future sea level rise, including saltwater intrusion of groundwater supplies and flood risks. Led international efforts to reduce climate pollution and build global climate resiliency. In the past four years, the Administration has led efforts in the international climate negotiations that have produced the first set of national greenhouse gas reduction commitments by all major developed and developing countries alike, the most robust transparency system to date, historic global efforts in support of climate resiliency, and more. At the same time, we have worked to advance concrete climate and clean energy efforts through a range of international initiatives, including working through the G20 and other fora for the global phase out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.