Full Title: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Two Years Later
Author(s): Michael Tubman
Publisher(s): Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)
Publication Date: 06/2015
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Two years after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, the administration has made marked progress toward achieving its goals. The plan, announced June 25, 2013, outlines 75 goals in three areas: cutting carbon pollution in the United States, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to address climate change. To date, there has been at least initial government action related to every item in the plan.
Notable areas of progress include steps to limit carbon pollution from power plants; new energy efficiency standards; actions to reduce methane and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions; the release of climate adaptation plans for 38 federal agencies and a Climate Resilience Toolkit for the public; and a joint announcement with China of new greenhouse gas targets. Areas where there has been only initial progress include increasing the climate resilience of federal buildings and infrastructure.
With Congress unlikely to enact major climate legislation in the near term, the Climate Action Plan relies almost entirely on executive powers under existing laws—steps the administration can take on its own. Some of these efforts have been subject to political pushback from opponents in Congress and some states. While efforts to undo executive actions have mostly been unsuccessful, it seems likely Congress will succeed in repealing guidelines on U.S. financing of coal plants overseas.
The nature, scope and ambition of the plan’s many elements vary widely. Some are discrete, relatively simple tasks within existing policies and programs; others require the administration to undertake formal rulemaking processes; and some are continuations of existing government programs and policies. Achieving some of the plan’s goals will require a transformation of the U.S. energy system over a period that will outlast President Obama’s time in office.