Climate Compass Blog
A year after President Obama announced a comprehensive plan to address climate change, clear progress is being made.
A C2ES status report on the president’s Climate Action Plan notes at least some progress on most of the plan’s 75 goals. In several key areas, the administration has taken important first steps, but it is too early to gauge their success or ultimate impact. With much more work still to be done, continued presidential leadership will be essential.
The plan, announced June 25, 2013, outlines goals in three areas: cutting carbon pollution, preparing for climate impacts, and leading international efforts to address climate change. With Congress unlikely to enact major climate legislation, the plan relies almost entirely on steps the administration can take on its own. And the nature, scope and ambition of the plan’s many elements vary widely.
A major goal is reducing carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has met its deadlines for proposing regulations for both new and existing power plants, but the rules are not yet final, and implementation will likely take years.
You expect a business leader to keep a close eye on the bottom line and to act when a threat is clear. As C2ES and others have noted, it is increasingly clear to many business leaders that climate change is a here-and-now threat that we all -- businesses, government and individuals -- must address.
Today’s “Risky Business” report lays out in stark numerical terms the likely economic impact of climate change on U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy. The initiative – co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer – brings high-profile attention to this issue in the hopes that highlighting the risks and potential costs will help spur action to manage the impacts and curb climate-altering emissions.
The report’s outline of the many costs of climate impacts is likely an underestimate. For example, the impacts of diminishing groundwater are difficult to calculate and are not included.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is no small task. Whether you’re acting individually or within a large organization or company, it’s important first to understand the amount and source of the emissions, and then to take steps to reduce them.
So my co-workers and I got started by holding an office challenge, using the newly updated online carbon calculator from our Make an Impact team to learn more about our carbon footprints and pledge to lower our personal impact on the planet.
I was surprised by the results. Although I regularly bike to work, use mass transit whenever possible, and take other steps at home and work to save energy, my individual footprint was 12,044 lbs. of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year – nearly 2,000 lbs. higher than my local average. The primary cause was my home’s electric heating system.
With the Make an Impact Carbon Calculator, I was able to chart a course to reduce my carbon footprint by taking a variety of steps: biking more, recycling whenever I can, unplugging appliances when not in use, and washing my clothes on the cold water cycle. Through these seemingly small steps, I determined that my pledge to save energy would not only avoid more than 4,476 lbs. of CO2 emissions annually, but also save me $752 over the course of the year!
For home renters like me, energy costs are often an afterthought since we have little control over improvements to our living space. Through Make an Impact’s Tips for the Energy Savvy Renter guide, I was able to provide my landlord with a set of recommendations for reducing her energy costs and reducing our household’s carbon footprint. The calculator predicted that simply by adjusting my thermostats while not at home (or by installing smart thermostats), we would save $166 and 1,863 lbs. of CO2 per year.
With the world already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent and extreme heat waves, droughts, wildfires and downpours, we need governments and businesses to take the threat seriously. As individuals, we cannot only urge action and hold leaders accountable, but also take steps ourselves to walk the talk. With tools like the Make an Impact Carbon Calculator, we can get started doing our part.
To learn more about how the make an impact carbon calculator can engage your employees, visit http://makeanimpact.c2es.org/about/newsroom/c2es-makes-it-easy-calculate-your-carbon-footprint
More than a dozen military leaders say the impacts of climate change threaten military readiness and response and will increase instability and conflict around the globe.
Their assessments are included in a recent report, National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change, by the CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board. The report’s authors – including 16 retired generals and admirals from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps – conclude that climate change impacts will act as threat multipliers and catalysts. Projected warming, changes in precipitation, sea level rise, and extreme weather events will pose risks to security within the U.S. and abroad.
At home, some of the threats are here and now. Many of the nation’s military installations are in coastal areas vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges. For example, the low-lying Hampton Roads area of Virginia is home to 29 military facilities. Sea level in the area is projected to rise 1.5 feet over the next 20-50 years and as much as 7.5 feet by the end of the century. One advisory board member, Brig. Gen. Gerald Galloway, stressed that “unless these threats are identified and addressed, they have the potential to disrupt day-to-day military operations, limit our ability to use our training areas and ranges, and put our installations at risk in the face of extreme weather events.”
Figure 1: Sea level rise projections for the Hampton Roads region, which is home to 29 different military facilities. Source: CNA, 2014
At a meeting last month in Songdo, South Korea, the fund’s board resolved a number of key organizational issues, clearing the way for the fund to start its mission as a channel for finance from developed to developing nations for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Finance for developing countries is a perennial issue in international climate negotiations. Many are hoping developed countries will come forward with new financial pledges at the September summit to help build momentum for a new global climate agreement in 2015. Many developed countries had said they would not make pledges until the fund’s organizational issues were resolved.
The Green Climate Fund will be a principal channel for delivering the $100 billion a year that developed countries agreed in Copenhagen to mobilize by 2020. The board, which is made up of representatives from 24 countries, has been meeting since August 2012 to determine how the fund would be organized and would operate.