Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
"The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways, our croplands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
-- President Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 2013
     Last year, about one-third of all Americans experienced 10 days or more of 100-degree heat. The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years, and asthma rates have doubled in the past 30 years. Also, increasing amounts of floods, heat waves, and droughts have put farmers out of business, which contributes to dramatic increase in food prices.
     Today, President Obama remains firmly committed to that goal and to building on the progress of his first term to help put us and the world on a sustainable long-term trajectory.  On June 25th, President Obama released a Climate Action Plan. The plan, which consists of a wide variety of executive actions, has three key pillars:
1) Cut Carbon Pollution in America
     Power plants are the largest carbon emission source in the United States (40 percent of greenhouse gas pollution!), therefore, according to Obama's climate plan, the goal is to establish carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants. If we cut carbon pollution from power plants, it will be an enormous overall cut of greenhouse gas emissions.
     However this cannot be done without accelerating clean energy leadership. This would include increasing funding and investing for clean energy technology by 30 percent. Since Obama's first term, the United States has doubled electricity generation through wind and solar energy. His goal is to double that again by 2020. 
     The second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution is from the transportation sector (cars, buses, vans, etc). The Obama Administration has and is in the process of creating more fuel economy standards for new car models. This would include reducing fuel consumption, and investing in research of new alternative fuel methods. The goal would be to set these standards in place for 2018 and on.
     It is important to remember the fact that homes, businesses, and factories also emit greenhouse gases. This is considered in Obama's climate plan. Considering the emission of hydrofluorocarbons (potent greenhouse gases) are expected to double by 2020 and triple by 2030, it is important to address this. A goal for 2020 is set to create an inter-agency methane strategy and encourage private sector investments in low-emission technology. 
     Obama also believes that it is a responsibility of the federal government to be leaders in clean energy and energy efficiency. 
2) Prepare the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change
     It is clear that the consequences of abuse to the environment is upon us. We need to build stronger communities and infrastructure, manage our economy and natural resources, and continue scientific research in order to manage the impacts of climate change. This can be achieved through supporting climate-resilient investments, rebuilding and learning from superstorm Sandy, creating sustainable and resilient hospitals, maintaining agricultural productivity, and providing tools and resources for climate resilience. 
3) Lead International Efforts to Address Global Climate Change
According to the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan, we must not work alone. This is an international issue, and must be treated as so. Some of the recommended actions involve the participation of multiple countries and include: expanding clean energy use and cutting energy waste, phasing out subsidies that encourage consumption of fossil fuels, strengthening global resilience to climate change, reducing emissions from deforestation and mobilizing climate finance. 
     To read more and share information on President Obama's plan to fight climate change, visit here.

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