Energy, Climate Change
and Our Environment

The President has taken unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change, and protect our environment.

Climate Change


Get the Details of President Obama's Climate Action Plan

The Obama Administration has taken a series of important steps to reduce the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change and pollute our water and air.

International Leadership

Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has engaged the international community to promote sustainable economic growth and to meet the climate change challenge through a number of important venues, including:

  • International Climate Negotiations
    • In December 2009, President Obama and other world leaders came together to negotiate the Copenhagen Accord, an important milestone in which, for the first time, all major developed and developing economies agreed to implement measures to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and to do so in an internationally transparent manner. In 2010, the Cancun Agreement confirmed and substantially extended the core elements of the Copenhagen Accord in the areas of finance, technology and adaptation as well as mitigation and transparency in an instrument that the Parties enthusiastically endorsed.

      In December 2011 at Durban, the United States and the international community took important steps to make operational all of the key elements of the Cancun agreement, including a transparency regime to monitor and review mitigation efforts by developed and developing countries, as well as established a Green Climate Fund. In addition, a process was launched to negotiate a new legal instrument to take effect from 2020, and U.S. leadership was crucial to ensuring that the instrument will be applicable to all parties and include all of the major economies within a common legal system.

  • The Major Economies Forum
    • The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, launched by President Obama in April 2009, facilitates a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge. The 17 major economies which are members of the Major Economies Forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

  • The Clean Energy Ministerial
    • The Clean Energy Ministerial, announced by President Obama and the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and led by Energy Secretary Chu, has made progress towards its goal of driving transformational low-carbon, climate friendly technologies by providing tools and platforms to improve the policy environment for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean energy access.

  • Climate and Clean Air Coalition
    • In February 2012, the United States launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution, a new global initiative to make rapid progress on climate change and air quality. Reducing pollutants that are “short-lived” in the atmosphere, such as methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which together account for one-third of current global warming, can prevent more than 2 million premature deaths a year, avoid the annual loss of over 30 million tons of crops, increase energy security, and address climate change. Since its launch, the Partnership has expanded beyond the original founding partners (Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the UN Environment Program) to include over 30 countries and the European Commission.

  • APEC Summit
    • At the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit chaired by President Obama in Honolulu, leaders agreed to eliminate non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services, including local content requirements, and cut applied tariffs on such goods and services to 5 percent by 2015. This will help lower costs, increase the dissemination of clean technologies, and create jobs. Leaders further committed to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and aimed to reduce the energy intensity of APEC economies by 45 percent by 2035.

  • Montreal Protocol
    • For the past four years, the United States has led international efforts to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down global production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas. A global phase down of HFCs could potentially reduce some 90 gigatons of greenhouse gases by 2050, equal to roughly two years worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions. In June 2013, President Obama and Chinese President Xi agreed to work together and with other countries to use the Montreal Protocol to phasedown HFCs, a critical step forward toward a global agreement.

Reducing Emissions through Clean Energy Investments and Standards

President Obama is pursuing a wide range of initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through clean energy technologies and policies. The Administration has made the largest clean energy investment in American history and these investments have allowed us to nearly double America’s renewable power generation since 2008.

In 2012, U.S. carbon emissions fell to the lowest level in two decades even as the economy continued to grow. To build on this momentum, the Obama Administration will take new and comprehensive action to encourage cleaner forms of American-made energy, modernize the transportation sector, and cut energy waste in our homes and businesses.

For more information on these efforts, see Innovating Our Way to a Clean Energy Future

Monitoring Emissions and Leading by Example

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For the first time, the United States is comprehensively cataloguing greenhouse gas emissions from the largest sources – an important initial step toward measurable and transparent reductions in carbon emissions, which will reduce air pollution and protect the health and welfare of the American people. In January 2012, the Administration launched an online tool that makes comprehensive greenhouse gas emission data publicly available for 29 different industrial categories and other large sources of greenhouse gas pollution.

President Obama has also directed the Federal Government – the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy – to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from direct sources such as building energy use and fuel consumption by 28 percent by 2020.  He also directed Federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from indirect sources, such as those from employee commuting, by 13 percent by 2020. By meeting these goals, Federal agencies can save up to $11 billion dollars in energy costs and eliminate the equivalent of cumulative 235 million barrels of oil over the next decade. In 2011, the Administration released the first-ever comprehensive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory for the U.S. Government, allowing agencies to leverage data to gauge the effectiveness of their renewable energy investments and their energy and fuel efficiency efforts.

Climate Change Adaptation

At the request of President Obama, an interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force has crafted recommendations for how Federal agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to address the risks associated with a changing climate. In February 2013, Federal agencies released their first-ever climate change adaptation plans to help ensure smart decisions that protect our investments and safeguard the health and security of our communities, economies and infrastructure from the impacts of severe weather, rising sea levels and other changing climate conditions.  The Task Force has also helped develop national adaptation strategies to protect freshwater resources and fish, wildlife and plants.

Learn More About the Taskforce

Climate Change Science and Education

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Through the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), U.S. government scientists are conducting world-class research on global climate change. The USGCRP is a collaborative effort involving 13 Federal agencies to evaluate the current and future impacts of climate change, inform policy-makers and the public about scientific findings, and investigate effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deploy cost-effective clean energy technology.

Learn More About the Research Group


Learn More about the Secure Energy Future Blueprint