The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house policy analyses, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch. Read More
June 23, 2015
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-516-0621
C2ES issues status report on Obama Climate Action Plan progress
WASHINGTON – Two years after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, the administration has made notable progress in all areas, according to a new Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) status report on the plan’s implementation.
There has been at least initial action on each of the 75 goals outlined in the plan, according to the C2ES status report.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to finalize rules this summer to limit carbon pollution from the No. 1 source – power plants. As for emissions from the second largest source, transportation, new fuel economy standards are in place for cars and light trucks and are in the works for heavy-duty trucks built after model year 2018.
Other notable areas of progress include:
- New energy efficiency standards
- Actions to reduce methane and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions
- The release of climate adaptation plans by 38 federal agencies and a Climate Resilience Toolkit for the public,
- A joint announcement with China on new greenhouse gas targets.
Areas where there has been only initial progress include increasing the climate resilience of federal buildings and infrastructure.
“The administration is making good progress, and cities, states and businesses are all taking stronger climate action” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “But achieving some of the plan’s goals will require sustained efforts beyond the president’s time in office. We’ll need continued federal leadership to reduce the emissions causing climate change and prepare for climate impacts.”
The plan, announced June 25, 2013, outlines goals in three areas: cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, preparing for the impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to address climate change. With Congress unlikely to enact major climate legislation in the near term, the Climate Action Plan relies almost entirely on steps the administration can take under existing laws.
Read the status report at: http://bit.ly/CAP2ndYear
To speak to a C2ES expert about progress toward climate goals, contact Laura Rehrmann at email@example.com.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the challenges of energy and climate change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.
Two years after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, the administration has taken at least initial steps on all 75 of its goals, according to a new C2ES status report.
The Climate Action Plan aims to reduce overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. While some steps in the plan are simple and within existing policies and programs, 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.
Federal and state measures beyond those in the plan will be needed to achieve the U.S. pledge to achieve a 26 to 28 percent reduction in U.S. emissions by 2025 as part of the effort to reach an international climate agreement.
The Climate Action Plan, announced June 25, 2013, outlines goals in three areas: cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to address climate change. With Congress unlikely to enact major climate legislation in the near term, the Climate Action Plan relies almost entirely on steps the administration can take under existing laws.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already proposed rules to limit carbon pollution from the No. 1 source – power plants – which account for almost a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Rules for new and existing power plants are expected to be finalized this summer.
The administration also has taken significant steps to reduce emissions from the second largest source, the transportation sector, with new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks and proposed standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks built after model year 2018. The regulatory process to reduce emissions from commercial aircraft has also started.
The administration is also addressing two highly potent greenhouse gases, HFCs and methane. EPA issued final rules to expand the number of acceptable alternatives to HFCs and is directing federal agency purchasing toward more climate-friendly alternatives. EPA released a methane strategy last year and has proposed steps to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, agriculture, new and existing landfills, and coal mines.
The United States is also on target to double its renewable energy use from President Obama’s first term through 2020, a commitment in the plan.
On the second pillar of the plan, making communities and infrastructure more resilient to climate change impacts, 38 federal agencies have released Climate Change Adaptation Plans outlining how they’ll address climate impacts to their missions and operations. But only initial progress has been made on increasing the climate resilience of federal buildings and infrastructure. A state, local, and tribal leaders task force recommended ways the government could modernize programs and policies to incorporate climate change.
On the third pillar of the plan, strengthening U.S. climate leadership internationally, the administration has made climate change a top priority in bilateral talks with China and India and in the negotiations to achieve a new global climate agreement in Paris by the end of the year. In April, the United States became one of the first countries to formally submit its intended contribution to the agreement.
There has been and will continue to be political pushback against climate action from opponents in Congress and some states. The administration has pledged $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries advance clean energy sources and prepare for climate impacts, but it’s unclear how much Congress will provide. And a few states have said they won’t submit implementation plans to reduce power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan.
Many cities, states, and businesses recognize that climate impacts are real and have costs. They’re already in action to improve efficiency, promote clean energy, and invest in resilient infrastructure. They can point the way toward a sustainable future.
But we will need continued leadership at the federal level to reduce the emissions causing climate change, to prepare for climate impacts, and to rally other nations to action.
President Obama's Climate Action Plan:
By Michael Tubman
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.
How significant a source of emissions is air travel?
The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, second only to the power sector, and aircraft comprise a significant and rapidly growing emission source within that sector. In 2013, aircraft accounted for nearly 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. transportation sector, making them responsible for about 3 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Commercial air travel accounted for most of the aircraft carbon dioxide emissions, with military and general aviation making up the rest.
From 1990 to 2013, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from domestic commercial flights grew 4 percent. Recent studies estimate that U.S. aircraft emissions will increase substantially in the next 20 years. Moreover, airplanes remain the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions within the U.S. transportation sector that is not yet subject to greenhouse gas regulations.
U.S. aviation is part of the increasingly interconnected global aviation sector, which makes up about 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions but is one of the fastest growing sources. From 1990 to 2010, global aircraft carbon dioxide emissions grew about 40 percent. If global aviation were a country, it would rank as the seventh largest carbon dioxide emitter, and U.S. aircraft emissions are 29 percent of all global aircraft emissions. Absent new policies, global aircraft emissions are projected to triple by 2050.
Figure 1: 2013 U.S. carbon dioxide emission, by sector and transportation source
The transportation sector is responsible for more than one-third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Aircraft are responsible for nearly 9 percent of U.S. transportation sector carbon dioxide emissions.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2013 (Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015), http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/ghgemissions/US-GHG-Inventory-2015-Main-Text.pdf.
What is the status of regulation?
In 2012, the DC District Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required under the Clean Air Act to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft cause or contribute to air pollution, which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. An endangerment finding would trigger regulation under the Clean Air Act.
On June 10, 2015, EPA issued its proposed endangerment finding for greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under section 231 of the Clean Air Act. The proposed finding builds on the previous 2009 endangerment finding for light-duty vehicles and found greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft engines used in certain types of aircraft are responsible for contributing to climate change, which threatens public health and welfare. Covered aircraft are those subject to international carbon dioxide emission standards, subsonic jet aircraft — ranging from smaller jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation II to larger jet aircraft such as the Boeing 747 — and subsonic turboprop aircraft — e.g., Bombardier Q400. The proposed endangerment finding will receive public comment before a final endangerment finding may be issued. The final endangerment finding itself would not impose any restrictions on aircraft. It is however a necessary step in determining whether EPA must regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft.
How does EPA action fit with global action?
Unlike stationary sources, such as power plants, and many mobile sources, such as cars, aircraft frequently travel between jurisdictions with different environmental laws and standards. As such, the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) serves as a global forum to develop policies and standards for the global industry, including a comprehensive set of measures to address greenhouse gas emissions. ICAO is developing a market-based system for aircraft to reduce total emissions from the sector, including through the use of offsets. It is also developing technology-based emission standards for covered aircraft, which are expected to be proposed in February 2016 and adopted later in that year.
Traditionally, both the EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have worked within the ICAO process to establish international emission standards and related requirements for other pollutants. Under this approach, international emission standards are first adopted by ICAO, and EPA subsequently initiates rulemaking under section 231 of the Clean Air Act to establish domestic standards equivalent to international standards where appropriate. Both EPA and FAA expect to take a similar approach in promulgating future domestic aircraft greenhouse gas standards for covered aircraft.
What are the next steps?
EPA issued an advanced noticed of proposed rulemaking at the same time as the proposed endangerment finding. The notice solicits comments on a variety of issues related to setting an international carbon dioxide standard for aircraft, including whether such standards should apply to in-production aircraft or new aircraft type designs, the appropriate effective date for a potential international carbon dioxide standard, as well as the appropriate stringency level. However, it does not impose any standards or regulatory requirements at this time.
EPA’s endangerment finding and advanced notice of proposed rulemaking lay the groundwork for U.S. adoption of international emission standards. Once ICAO adopts emission standards for covered aircraft in 2016, EPA is expected to begin rulemaking under section 231 of the Clean Air Act to establish domestic aircraft engine emission standards for covered aircraft that are of at least equivalent stringency as the international emission standards.
Achieving the United States' Intended Nationally Determined Contribution
Nations are working toward a new global climate agreement later this year in Paris. To that end, countries have begun submitting their “intended nationally determine contributions” (INDCs) to the agreement. In its INDC, the United States said it intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025. Based on available estimates, measures already adopted or proposed will reduce emissions 19.5 to 23 percent below 2005 levels, meaning additional measures will be needed to achieve the 2025 target.
The Earth is undoubtedly warming. What’s the cause, what are the impacts, and what can we do about it?
Below is a list of resources to learn more about the impacts of climate change, what individuals can do to help, and which policies can make a big difference
What are the Impacts of Climate Change?
The Earth is warming and will continue to do so if we keep releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This warming brings an increased risk of more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours. To learn more:
What can you do to help?
C2ES works to help individuals learn how they can save energy at work, school, and home. Learn some of the steps you can take to make an impact:
What would make a huge difference?
Sensible policies can spur demand for clean energy and technologies and reduce carbon emissions cost-effectively. Learn about some of the options:
Debate over the proposed Clean Power Plan has been, not surprisingly, contentious and, unfortunately, partisan. On one end, some Republicans are promoting a just-say-no approach, discouraging states from developing plans to cut carbon emissions from their power plants, as the proposed rule would require. On the other end, some Democrats are refusing to acknowledge the genuine challenges the proposal presents to states and the power sector.
With all the partisan rancor surrounding the plan, it was refreshing to see a bipartisan group of senators take a different approach. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tom Carper (D-DE) came together last week to offer constructive comments on the proposal in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Key Insights from a Solutions Forum on Driving Energy Efficiency with ITMay 2015
Energy efficiency is a critical component of the proposed Clean Power Plan. It offers states a least-cost pathway for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. A C2ES Solutions Forum held May 18, 2015, brought together city, state, and business leaders to explore how intelligent efficiency can drive reduced energy usage and emissions under the rule.
Among the questions C2ES discussed at this event:
- What is intelligent efficiency and how can it reduce costs and emissions?
- Can intelligent efficiency also help with reliability?
- What role will energy efficiency play in the Clean Power Plan?
- What are some cities, states and businesses doing right?
- What role can cities, states, and businesses play together in using energy efficiency to implement the Clean Power Plan?
- What would help cities and states use energy efficiency under the Clean Power Plan?
- Why would a utility want to sell less of its product – electricity?
C2ES will continue the conversation with cities, states, and businesses to share insights and innovative ideas that will help us get to a clean energy future. Our third Solutions Forum on June 25 will explore innovative ways to finance clean energy technology and infrastructure.
For more information about the C2ES Solutions Forum, see: http://www.c2es.org/initiatives/solutions-forum
States could go a long way toward meeting targets for reduced power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan just by encouraging energy efficiency. One way to do that is to deploy more “intelligent efficiency” solutions at home. Interconnected systems and smart devices could not only help reduce energy use and climate-altering emissions, but also empower consumers to make money-saving choices.
More than 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases comes from the residential sector – where we use about 1.4 trillion kWh of electricity annually to power our heating and cooling systems, appliances and electronics. Although we pay for it all, a lot of that electricity is wasted. Tried-and-true solutions like weatherization and more efficient light bulbs will continue to be common sense solutions. But increasingly, homeowners, innovators, and policy makers are looking to leverage the average home’s 25 devices to reduce that waste.
Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy
A homeowner installs a smart thermostat. Devices like this could be controlled though web platforms, along with water heaters, washing machines and LED bulbs with advanced controls.