Climate Change
And President Obama's Action Plan

The United States is leading global efforts to address the threat of climate change. Wind power has tripled, and energy from the sun has increased tenfold. U.S. carbon emissions have fallen by 10 percent from 2007 to 2013 – the largest absolute emissions reduction of any country in the world. To build on that progress, President Obama has taken a series of ambitious steps to combat climate change.

In June 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the Clean Power Plan – the first-ever carbon pollution standards for existing power plants that will protect the health of our children and put our nation on the path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030. Power plants are the largest single source of carbon pollution, accounting for about one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Power Plan will set standards for carbon pollution from power plants, just as we have set limits on power plant emissions of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and soot.

In November 2014, in a historic joint announcement with China, President Obama laid out an ambitious but achievable target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in the range of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, while China announced its intent to peak carbon emissions around 2030 and to double its share of zero-carbon energy to 20 percent. The announcement was a historic step for climate change action and for the U.S.-China relationship, as the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers, and carbon emitters came together to demonstrate leadership on an issue that affects the entire world.

Stand with President Obama on his plan to act on climate change.

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Due to climate change, the weather is getting more extreme

Due to climate change,

the weather is getting more extreme


Temperatures are rising across the U.S.

2014 was the hottest year on record globally, and temperatures from 2001 to 2012 were warmer than any previous decade in every region of the United States. Explore this interactive map from the National Climate Assessment to learn more.

Globally, the 10 warmest years on record all occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA

For the contiguous 48 states, 7 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA



Extreme weather comes at a cost

Climate and weather disasters in 2012 alone cost the American economy more than $100 billion



$30 Billion

U.S. drought/heatwave

Estimated across the U.S.

$65 Billion

Superstorm Sandy

Estimated

$11.1 Billion

Combined severe weather

Estimated for incidents across the U.S.



$1 Billion

Western wildfires

Estimated

$2.3 Billion

Hurricane Isaac

Estimated

There are also public health threats associated with extreme weather

Children, the elderly, and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects, including those related to heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, and diseases carried by food, water, and insects.


We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it's too late."
- President Obama


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Carbon Pollution

We're still contributing to the problem

Carbon pollution is the biggest
driver of climate change


Global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are on the rise

The global annual average temperature has increased by more than 1.5 degrees F between 1880 and 2012. This interactive graph from the National Climate Assessment shows the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the same time period. Climate scientists say we need to avert an additional 2-degree temperature increase to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.


U.S. greenhouse gas pollution includes:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 82%

Enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement).


Fluorinated gases, 3%

Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes.


Nitrous Oxide (N2O), 6%

Emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.

Methane (CH4), 9%

Emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil as well as from landfills.


Source: EPA

We've made progress thanks to:

Stronger Fuel Economy Standards

We set the highest fuel economy standards in American history that will double the efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025.

increasing clean energy

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.

Decreased Carbon Pollution

In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas pollution fell to the lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Renewable Energy and Efficiency Targets

35 states have renewable energy targets in place, and more than 25 have set energy efficiency targets.



But we have more work to do.


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President Obama's Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution

The President's Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution in America

Reducing Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Power plants are the largest major source of emissions in the U.S., together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas pollution.

 

PROGRESS:

In September 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

 

PROGRESS:

In June 2014, EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan — the first-ever carbon pollution standards for existing power plants that will protect the health of our children and put our nation on the path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

The EPA is expected to finalize standards for new and existing power plants in summer 2015.


 

 

Accelerating Clean Energy Leadership

During the President's first term, the United States more than doubled generation of electricity from wind and solar energy.


 

PROGRESS:

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. has increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.

 

PROGRESS:

Since the President took office, the Department of the Interior has permitted over 50 wind, solar, and geothermal utility-scale projects on public or tribal lands. The projects could support over 20,000 jobs and generate enough electricity to power 4.8 million homes.

 

PROGRESS:

DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network will support community college training programs to help 50,000 workers enter the solar industry by 2020. DOE’s SunShot Solar Instructor Training Network is partnering with military bases to create a veterans solar job training pilot.

 

PROGRESS:

Building on our progress in wind and solar, the Administration announced over 350 private and public-sector commitments to deploy over 885 MW of solar — enough to power over 130,000 homes — and cut energy waste in more than 1.4 billion square feet of U.S. buildings.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

To ensure America's continued leadership position in clean energy, President Obama has set new goals.

2015

President Obama's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget continues to further American leadership by investing approximately $6.9 billion in funding for clean energy technology programs. This includes investment in a range of energy technologies, from advanced biofuels and emerging nuclear technologies to clean coal.
 

2020

To ensure America's continued leadership position in clean energy. President Obama has set a goal to double wind and solar electricity generation once again by 2020.

2020

Federal agencies are setting a new goal of reaching 100MW of installed renewable capacity across federally-subsidized housing stock by 2020.
 

2025

The Department of Defense — the single largest consumer of energy in the United States — is committed to deploying three gigawatts of renewable energy on military installations by 2025.

Building a 21st Century Clean Energy Infrastructure

Heavy-duty vehicles (commercial trucks, vans, and buses) are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution within the transportation sector.


 

PROGRESS:

In January 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process, with an initial focus on our nation's energy infrastructure.

 

PROGRESS:

In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and DOT to develop and issue the next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards. The standards are proposed in March 2015 and finalized in March 2016.

 

PROGRESS:

In 2011, the Administration finalized fuel economy standards for Model Year 2014-2018 for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 270 million metric tons and save 530 million barrels of oil.

 

PROGRESS:

The Administration has already established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history. These standards require an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

During the President's second term, the Administration is partnering with industry leaders and other key stakeholders.

Post-2018

In partnership with industry leaders and other key stakeholders, the Administration will develop post-2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to further reduce consumption through the application of advanced cost-effective technologies.

 

The Administration will also support the Renewable Fuel Standard and invest in research and development to help bring next-generation biofuels on line.

Cutting energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories

Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.


 

PROGRESS:

In 2014, 85 new partners joined the Better Buildings Challenge. Over 190 organizations have committed to energy savings. Ninety cities and states, utilities, manufacturers, and data center owners also joined the Accelerators.

 

PROGRESS:

In President Obama's first term, DOE and HUD completed efficiency upgrades in nearly two million homes, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.

 

PROGRESS:

In December 2013, the Department of Agriculture announced it will provide up to $250 million to help businesses and residential customers in rural areas cut their energy bills through energy efficiency and renewable energy use.

 

PROGRESS:

In 2014, DOE issued nine proposed and 10 final energy conservation standards for appliances and equipment. If finalized and combined with rules already issued, the energy savings will help cut consumers' electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

The Administration will continue to take a range of new steps geared toward cutting energy waste and achieving President Obama's goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030, relative to 2010 levels.

2020

To continue the success of the President’s Better Buildings Challenge, the Administration will continue to expand Better Buildings Accelerators to support and encourage adoption of state and local policies to cut energy waste and save consumers and families money.

2030

The Administration will build on its progress and continue to establish impactful energy conservation standards for appliances that — when combined with the progress already underway from the first term — will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons by 2030, equivalent to more than a year's carbon pollution from our entire electricity system.

Reducing other greenhouse gas emissions

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are among the fastest-growing greenhouse gases. Methane, another potent greenhouse gas, accounted for nearly 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. If we don’t act, U.S. emissions of HFCs are expected to nearly triple by 2030, and methane will increase to a level equivalent to over 620 million tons of carbon pollution.

 

PROGRESS:

In September 2014, the White House announced new private-sector commitments and executive actions to decrease HFC emissions, reducing the equivalent of 700 million metric tons of carbon emissions globally through 2025.

 

PROGRESS:

In March 2014, the Administration released a Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas systems through voluntary actions and common-sense standards.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

The United States must lead through international diplomacy and domestic actions to reduce emissions and transition to safer and more substantial options.

2020

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Transportation will implement a comprehensive, interagency methane strategy.

The EPA will also use its authority under the Clean Air Act to encourage private sector investment in low-emissions technology by identifying and approving climate-friendly chemicals while prohibiting certain uses of more harmful HFCs.

Moving Forward

When it comes to the oil and gas sector, investments to build and upgrade gas pipelines will not only put more Americans to work, but also reduce emissions and enhance economic productivity.

The Obama Administration will work collaboratively with state governments, as well as the private sector, to reduce emissions across multiple sectors, improve air quality, and achieve public health and economic benefits.

Federal leadership

 

Since 2008, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas pollution by more than 17 percent — the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

 

PROGRESS:

Expanded energy performance contracts from $2 billion to $4 billion to provide energy efficiency upgrades for Federal buildings, at no net cost to the taxpayer.

 

PROGRESS:

In December 2013, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to buy at least 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

President Obama believes that the federal government must be a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency.

2020

The federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 — more than double the current goal of 7.5 percent.

 

The President committed to reduce the federal government’s direct greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent below 2008 levels by 2020.


Even as we take new steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country.


President Obama's Plan to Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change

The President's Plan Will

Prepare for the impacts of climate change


…Science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind…those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it—they’re busy dealing with it.”
- President Obama, 2013
Read the Press Release


Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help states, cities, and towns build stronger communities and infrastructure, protect critical sectors of our economy as well as our natural resources, and use sound science to better understand and manage climate impacts.

Assess the Impacts of Climate Change

GOALS

Provide an assessment of climate change impacts on the United States that translates scientific insights into practical knowledge that can help decision-makers prepare for specific impacts.

PROGRESS:

On May 6, 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. The NCA serves as a critical resource for informing climate preparedness and response decisions across the nation.


Support climate-resilient investments

GOALS

Remove policy barriers, modernize programs, and establish a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to support local and state efforts to prepare for climate change.

PROGRESS:

Federal agencies are working to ensure grants, technical assistance, and other programs support smarter, more resilient investments.

PROGRESS:

The President's State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which is made up of 26 Governors, county executives, mayors and tribal leaders, released its recommendation.


Rebuild and learn from Superstorm Sandy

GOALS

Pilot innovative strategies in the Superstorm Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts and update flood risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects.

PROGRESS:

From HUD grants and DOT funding for resilient transit systems to a DOI competition for support for coastal resilience projects, over $10B in Sandy recovery funds is being used to increase resilience.

PROGRESS:

In August 2013, the Hurricane Sandy Task Force delivered a rebuilding strategy that is serving as a model for communities across the nation.


Launch an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals

GOALS

Establish a public-private partnership on increasing resilience of the health care industry.

PROGRESS:

In December 2014, the Administration released a guide providing best practices for increasing the resilience of health care facilities.


Maintain Agriculture Productivity

GOALS

Deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to help them understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

PROGRESS:

USDA established seven new “regional climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate.


Provide tools for Climate Resilience

GOALS

Include existing and newly developed climate preparedness tools and information that state, local and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.

PROGRESS:

In March 2014, the Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, bringing together extensive open government data and innovation competitions to develop data-driven resilience tools for communities.

PROGRESS:

In November 2014, the Administration released the Climate Resilience Toolkit to provide easy, intuitive access to federal tools that can help planners and decision makers conduct their work in the context of a changing climate.


Reduce Risk of Droughts and Wildfires

GOALS

Make it easier for communities to get the assistance they need to adapt to drier conditions.

PROGRESS:

Launched the National Drought Resilience Partnership and released the National Wildfire Cohesive Strategy.



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President Obama's Plan Will Lead International Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Because climate change spans international borders, the President's plan will also

Lead international efforts to address global climate change

America will continue to take on a leadership role in engaging the world's major economies to advance key climate priorities and in galvanizing global action through international climate negotiations. The plan will:

WORK WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO TAKE ACTION TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE

Lead public sector financing toward cleaner energy

 

PROGRESS:

The President put forth an initiative to end public financing for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances. Following the lead of the U.S., other nations—including the U.K., the Netherlands, and the Nordic countries—have joined the initiative.


Bilat cooperation with major economies

 

PROGRESS:

We are making progress with key partners on issues such as renewably energy deployment, hydroflourocarbon (HFC) emissions, vehicle emissions standards, energy efficiency, and clean energy initiatives.


Expand clean energy use and cut energy waste

 

PROGRESS:

Facilitating the transition to a global clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy is leading the Clean Energy Ministerial, a high-level global forum that promotes policies and programs aimed at scaling up energy efficiency and clean energy.


COMBAT SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS

 

PROGRESS:

Building on the breakthrough June 2013 agreement on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by President Obama and China’s President Xi, G-20 leaders in September 2013 expressed support for using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs.

 

PROGRESS:

The U.S. continues to spearhead the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which has expanded to more than 100 partners, including 46 countries. The Coalition is implementing ten initiatives to reduce emissions of methane, HFCs, and black carbon.


Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation

 

PROGRESS:

In November 2013, the U.S., Norway, and the U.K. launched a public-private partnership to support forests in developing countries, with the goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and promoting sustainable agriculture. The initiative has identified its first four priority countries and begun initial work.


NEGOTIATE GLOBAL FREE TRADE IN ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS AND SERVICES

 

PROGRESS:

In July 2014, the U.S. and 13 other WTO members, representing 86% of global trade in environmental goods, launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) to achieve global free trade in clean technologies.


ENHANCE MULTILATERAL ENGAGEMENT WITH MAJOR ECONOMIES

 

PROGRESS:

The United States continues to play an active role in shaping the design of a new global climate agreement due in 2015, including through our chairmanship of the major economies forum on energy and climate.


Mobilize climate finance

 

PROGRESS:

In November 2014, the President announced the U.S.'s intention to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to cut carbon pollution and strengthen developing countries' resilience. This helped increase the number and ambition of other countries’ contributions, and our leadership helped propel the fund's initial capitalization over $10 billion.



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