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Sunday
Mar232014

Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan

 

 
PREPARE THE UNITED STATES FOR THE  IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
As we act to curb the  greenhouse gas pollution that is driving climate change,  we must also prepare for the impacts that are too late to avoid. Across America, states, cities, and communitiesare taking steps to protect themselves by upd ating building codes, adjusting the way the y managenatural resources, investing in more resilient infrastructure, and planning for rapid recovery fromdamages that nonetheless occur. The  federal government has an important role to play insupporting community-based preparedness and resilience efforts, establishing policies that promote preparedness, protecting critical infrastructure and public resources, supporting scienceand research germane to preparedness and resilience, and ensuring that federal operations andfacilities continue to protect and serve citizens in a  changing climate.The Obama Administration has been working to  strengthen America’s climate resilience since itsearliest days. Shortly after coming into office, President Obama established an InteragencyClimate Change Adaptation Task Force and, in October 2009, the President signed an ExecutiveOrder directing it to recommend ways federal policies and  programs can better prepare the Nation for change. In May 2010, the Task Force hosted the first National Climate AdaptationSummit, convening local and regional stak eholders and decision-makers to identify challengesand opportunities for collaborative action.In February 2013, federal  agencies released Climate Change Adaptation Plans  for the first time,outlining strategies to protect their operations, missions, and  programs from the effects of climate change. The Department of Transportation, for example, is d eveloping guidance for incorporating climate change and extreme weather event  considerations into coastal highway projects, and the Department of Homeland Security is evaluating the challenges of changingconditions in the Arctic and along our Nation’s borders. Agencies have also partnered withcommunities through targeted grant and technical-assistance programs—for example, theEnvironmental Protection Agency is working with low-lying communities in North Carolina toassess the vulnerability of infrastructure investments to sea level rise and identify solutions toreduce risks. And the Administration has continued,  through the U.S. Global Change R esearchProgram, to support science and monitoring to expand  our understanding of climate change andits impacts.Going forward, the Administration will expand these efforts into three major, interrelatedinitiatives to better prepare America for the impacts of climate change:
 I.  Building Stronger and Safer Communities and Infrastructure
 By necessity, many states, cities, and communities are already planning and  preparing for theimpacts of climate change. Hospitals must build capacity to serve patients  during more frequentheat waves, and urban  planners must plan for the severe storms that infrastructure will need towithstand. Promoting on-the-ground planning and resilient infrastructure will be at the core of our work to strengthen America’s communities. Specific actions will include:
Directing Agencies to Support Climate-Resilient Investment:
The President will directfederal agencies to identify and remove b arriers to making climate-resilient investments; identifyand remove counterproductive policies that increase vulnerabilities; and encourage and supportsmarter, more resilient investments, including through agency grants, technical assistance, andother programs, in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief. Agencies will also be  directed to ensure that  climate risk-managementconsiderations are fully integrated into federal infrastructure and natural resource management planning. To begin meeting this challenge, the Environmental Protection Agency is committingto integrate considerations of climate change impacts and adaptive measures into  major  programs, including its Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and grants for  brownfields cleanup, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development is alreadyrequiring grant recipients in the Hurricane San dy–affected region to take sea-level rise intoaccount.

Establishing a State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness:
To help agencies meet the above directive and to enhance local efforts to protect communities, thePresident will establish a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on keyactions the federal government can take to  better support local preparedness and resilience- building efforts. The task force will provide recommendations on removing barriers to resilientinvestments, modernizing grant and loan programs to better support local e fforts, and developinginformation and tools to better serve communities.
Supporting Communities as they Prepare for Climate Impacts:
Federal agencies will continue to provide targeted support and  assistance to help communities prepare for climate-change impacts. For example, throughout  2013, the Department of Transportation’s FederalHighway Administration is working with 19 state and regional  partners and other federalagencies to test app roaches for assessing local transportation infrastructure vulnerability toclimate change and extreme weather and for improving resilience. The  Administration willcontinue to assist tribal communities on preparedness through the Bureau of Indian Affairs,including through pilot projects and b y supporting participation in federal initiatives that assessclimate change vulnerabilities and develop regional solutions. Through annual federal agency“Environmental Justice Progress Reports,” the Administration will continue to identifyinnovative ways to help our most vulnerable communities prepare for  and recover from theimpacts of climate change. The importance of critical infrastructure independence  was broughthome in the Sandy response. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Departmentof Energy are working with the private sector to address simultaneous restoration of electricityand fuels supply.
Boosting the Resilience of Buildings and Infrastructure:
The National Institute of Standardsand Technology will convene  a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop acomprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for consistentlysafe buildings and infrastructure – products that can  inform the development of private-sector standards and codes. In addition, building on federal agencies’ “Climate Change AdaptationPlans,” the Administration will continue efforts to increase the resilience of federal facilities andinfrastructure. The Department of Defense, for example, is assessing the relative vulnerability of its coastal facilities to climate change. In addition, the  President’s FY 2014 Budget proposes$200 million through the Transportation Leadership Awards program for Climate ReadyInfrastructure in communities that build enhanced preparedness into their planning efforts, andthat have proposed or are  ready to break ground on  infrastructure projects, including transit andrail, to improve resilience.
Rebuilding and Learning from Hurricane Sandy:
In August 2013, President Obama’sHurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task  Force will deliver to the President a rebuilding strategy to beimplemented in Sandy-affected regions and establishing precedents  that can be followed
elsewhere. The Task Force  and federal agencies are also piloting new  ways to support resiliencein the Sandy-affected region; the Task Force, for example, is hosting a regional “Rebuilding byDesign” competition to generate innovative solutions to enhance  resilience. In the transportationsector, the Department of  Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is dedicating $5.7 billion to four of the area’s most impacted transit agencies, of which  $1.3 billion will beallocated to locally prioritized  projects to make transit systems more resilient to  future disasters.FTA will also develop a competitive process for a dditional funding to identify and supportlarger, stand-alone resilience projects in the impacted region. To build  coastal resilience, theDepartment of the Interior will launch a $100 million competitive grant program to foster  partnerships and promote resilient natural systems while enhancing green spaces and wildlifehabitat near urban populations. An  additional $250 million will be allocated to support projectsfor coastal restoration and resilience across the region. Finally, with pa rtners, the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers is conducting a $20  million study to identify strategies to reduce thevulnerability of Sandy-affected coastal communities to future large-scale flood and storm events,and the National Oceanic  and Atmospheric Administration will strengthen long-term coastalobservations and provide technical assistance to coastal communities.

 II.  Protecting our Economy and Natural Resources
 Climate change is affecting nearly every aspect of our society, from agriculture and tourism tothe health and safety of o ur citizens and natural resources. To help protect critical sectors, whilealso targeting hazards that cut across sectors and regions, the Administration will mount a set of sector- and hazard-specific efforts to protect our country’s vital assets, to include:
Identifying Vulnerabilities of Key Sectors to Climate Change:
The Department of Energywill soon release an assessment of climate-change impacts on the energ y sector, including power-plant disruptions due to drought and the disruption of fuel supplies during severe storms,as well as potential opportunities to make our energ y infrastructure more resilient to these risks.In 2013, the Department of Agriculture and  Department of the Interior released several studiesoutlining the challenges a changing climate poses for America’s agricultural enterprise, forests,water supply, wildlife, and public lands. This  year and next, federal a gencies will report on theimpacts of climate change on other ke y sectors and strategies to address them, with priorityefforts focusing on health, transportation, food supplies, oceans, and  coastal communities.
Promoting Resilience in the Health Sector:
The Department of Health and Human Serviceswill launch an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals in the face of climate chan ge.Through a public-private partnership with the healthcare ind ustry, it will identify best practicesand provide guidance on  affordable measures to ensure that our medical system is resilient toclimate impacts. It will also collaborate with partner agencies to share best practices amongfederal health facilities. And, building on lessons from pilot projects underway in  16 states, itwill help train public-health professionals and community leaders to prepare their communitiesfor the health consequences of climate change, including through effective communication of health risks and resilience measures.
Promoting Insurance Leadership for Climate Safety:
Recognizing the critical role that the private sector plays in insuring assets and enabling rapid recovery after disasters, theAdministration will convene representatives from the insurance industry and other stakeholdersto explore best practices for private and  public insurers to manage their own processes and investments to account for climate change risks and incentivize policy holders to take steps toreduce their exposure to these risks.
Conserving Land and Water Resources:
America’s ecosystems are critical to our  nation’seconomy and the lives and health of our citizens. These natural resources can also helpameliorate the impacts of climate change, if they are p roperly protected. The Administration hasinvested significantly in conserving relevant ecosystems, including working with Gulf State partners after the Deepwater Horizon spill to enhance barrier islands and marshes that protectcommunities from severe storms. The Administration is also  implementing climate-adaptationstrategies that promote resilience in fish and wildlife populations, forests and other plantcommunities, freshwater resources, and the ocean. Building on these efforts, the  President is alsodirecting federal agencies to identify and evaluate  additional approaches to improve our naturaldefenses against extreme weather, protect biodiversity and conserve natural resources in the  faceof a changing climate, and  manage our public lands and n atural systems to store more carbon.
Maintaining Agricultural Sustainability:
Building on the existing network of federal climate-science research and action centers, the  Department of Agriculture is creating seven newRegional Climate Hubs to deliver tailored, science-based knowled ge to farmers, ranchers, andforest landowners. These hubs will work with universities and other partne rs, including theDepartment of the Interior and the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration, to supportclimate resilience. Its Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Department of theInterior’s Bureau of Reclamation are also providing grants and techni cal support to agriculturalwater users for more water-efficient practices in the face of drought and  long-term climatechange.
Managing Drought:
Leveraging the work of the  National Disaster Recovery Framework for drought, the Administration will launch a cross-agency National Drought Resilience Partnershipas a “front door” for communities seeking help to  prepare for future droughts and reduce droughtimpacts. By linking information (monitoring, forecasts, outlooks, and early warnings) withdrought preparedness and longer-term resilience strategies in critical sectors, this effort will helpcommunities manage drought-related risks.
Reducing Wildfire Risks:
With tribes, states, and local governments as partners, theAdministration has worked to make landscapes more resistant to wildfires, which areexacerbated by heat and  drought conditions resulting from climate change. Federal agencies willexpand and prioritize forest and rang eland restoration efforts in order to make natural areas andcommunities less vulnerable to catastrophic fire. The Department of the Interior and  Departmentof Agriculture, for example, are launching a  Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership – a pilot effort in five western states to reduce wildfire risk by removing extra brush and other flammable vegetation around critical areas such as  water reservoirs.
Preparing for Future Floods:
To ensure that projects funded with taxpa yer dollars last as longas intended, federal agencies will update their flood-risk reduction standards for fed erally funded projects to reflect a consistent approach that accounts for sea-level rise and other factorsaffecting flood risks. This effort will incorporate the most recent science on expected  rates of sea-level rise (which vary by region) and build on work done by the Hurricane Sandy RebuildingTask Force, which announced in April 2013 that all federally funded Sandy-related rebuilding projects must meet a consistent flood risk reduction standard that takes into account increasedrisk from extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and other impacts of climate change.
 III.  Using Sound Science to Manage Climate Impacts
 Scientific data and insights are essential to help government officials, communities, and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with climate change. TheAdministration will continue to lead in advancing the  science of climate measurement andadaptation and the development of tools for climate-relevant decision-making by focusing onincreasing the availability, accessibility, and utility of relevant scientific tools and information.Specific actions will include:
Developing Actionable Climate Science:
The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget providesmore than $2.7 billion, largely through the 13-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program, toincrease understanding of climate-change impacts, establish a public-private partnership toexplore risk and catastrophe modeling, and develop the information and tools needed bydecision-makers to respond to both long-term climate change impacts and  near-term effects of extreme weather.
Assessing Climate-Change Impacts in the United States:
In the spring of 2014, the ObamaAdministration will release the third U.S.  National Climate Assessment, highlighting newadvances in our understanding of climate-change  impacts across all regions of the United Statesand on critical sectors of the econ omy, including transportation, energy, agriculture, andecosystems and biodiversity. For the  first time, the National Climate Assessment will focus no tonly on dissemination of  scientific information but also on translating scientific insights into practical, useable knowledge that can help decision-makers anticipate and prepare for specificclimate-change impacts.
Launching a Climate Data Initiative:
Consistent with the President’s May 2013 ExecutiveOrder on Open Data
 –
and recognizing that freely available open government data can fuelentrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and public benefits the Administration islaunching a Climate Data Initiative to leverage extensive federal climate-relevant data tostimulate innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in support of national climate-change preparedness
 
Providing a Toolkit for Climate Resilience:
Federal agencies will create a virtual climate-resilience toolkit that centralizes access to data-driven resilience tools, services, and best practices, including those developed through the Climate Data Initiative. The toolkit will provideeasy access to existing resources as well as  new tools, including: interactive sea-level rise mapsand a sea-level-rise calculator to aid po st-Sandy rebuilding in New York and  New Jersey, new NOAA storm surge models and interactive maps from the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration that provide risk information by combining tidal data, projected sea levels andstorm wave heights, a web-based tool that will allow developers to integrate NASA climateimagery into websites and mobile apps, access to the U.S.  Geological Survey’s “visualizationtool” to assess the amount of carbon  absorbed by landscapes, and a  Stormwater Calculator andClimate Assessment Tool developed to  help local governments assess stormwater-controlmeasures under different precipitation and temperature scenarios.
LEAD INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO ADDRESS  GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
The Obama Administration is working to build on the  actions that it is taking domestically toachieve significant global greenhouse gas emission reductions and enhance climate preparednessthrough major international initiatives focused on spurring concrete action,  including bilateralinitiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries. These initiatives not only serveto support the efforts of the United States and  others to achieve our goals for 2020, b ut also willhelp us move beyond those and bend the post-2020 global emissions trajectory further. As a key part of this effort, we are also working intensively to forge global responses to climate changethrough a number of important international negotiations, including the United  NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change.
 I.  Working with Other Countries to Take Action to Address Climate Change
 
Enhancing Multilateral Engagement with Major Economies:
In 2009, President Obamalaunched the Major Economies Forum on  Energy and Climate, a hi gh-level forum that bringstogether 17 countries that account for ap proximately 75 percent of global greenhouse  gasemissions, in order to support the international climate negotiations and spur co operative actionto combat climate change. The Forum has been successful on both fronts – having contributedsignificantly to progress in the broader negotiations while also launching  the Clean EnergyMinisterial to catalyze the development and deployment of  clean energy and efficiency solutions.We are proposing that the Forum build  on these efforts by launching a major initiative this year focused on further accelerating efficiency  gains in the buildings sector, which accounts for approximately one-third of global carbon pollutions from the energ y sector.
Expanding Bilateral Cooperation with Major Emerging Economies:
 
 From the outset, the Obama Administration has sought to intensify bilateral climate cooperationwith key major emerging economies, through initiatives like the U.S.-China C lean EnergyResearch Center, the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, and the Strategic EnergyDialogue with Brazil.We will be building on these succ esses and finding new areas for cooperation  in the second term,and we are alread y making progress: Just this month, President Obama and President Xi Jinpingof China reached an historic agreement at their first summit to work to  use the expertise andinstitutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the  consumption and production of HFCs, ahighly potent greenhouse gas. The impact of phasing out HFCs by 2050 would be equivalent tothe elimination of two years’ worth of greenhouse  gas emissions from all sources.
Combatting Short-Lived Climate Pollutants:
Pollutants such as methane, black carbon, andmany HFCs are relatively short-lived in the atmosphere, but have more potent  greenhouse effectsthan carbon dioxide. In February 2012, the United States launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution, which has  grown to include more than 30 country partners and other ke y partners such as the World Bank and the  U.N. EnvironmentProgramme. Major efforts include reducing methane and black  carbon from waste and landfills.We are also leading through the  Global Methane Initiative, which works with 42 partner countries and an extensive  network of over 1,100 private sector participants to reduce methaneemissions.
Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and accelerating the commercializationof renewable mini-grids.  These efforts include:
 
Natural Gas.
Burning natural gas is about on e-half as carbon-intensive as coal, whichcan make it a critical “bridge fuel”  for many countries as the world transitions to evencleaner sources of energy.  Toward that end, the Obama Administration is partnering withstates and private companies to exchange  lessons learned with our international partnerson responsible development of natural gas resources. We have launched theUnconventional Gas
Technical Engagement Program to share best practices on issuessuch as water management, methane emissions, air quality, permitting, contracting, and pricing to help increase global gas supplies and facilitate development of the associatedinfrastructure that brings them to market. Going  forward, we will promote fuel-switchingfrom coal to gas for electricity production and encourage the development of a globalmarket for gas. Since heavy-duty vehicles are expected to account for 40 percent of increased oil use through 2030, we will encourage the adoption of heavy duty natural gasvehicles as well.!
 
Nuclear Power.
The United States will continue to promote the  safe and secure use of nuclear power worldwide through a variet y of bilateral and multilateral engagements. For example, the U.S. Nuclear Regul atory Commission advises international partners onsafety and regulatory best practices, and  the Department of Energy works withinternational partners on research and development, nuclear waste and storage, training,regulations, quality control, and comprehensive fuel  leasing options. Going forward, wewill expand these efforts to promote nuclear energy gen eration consistent withmaximizing safety and nonproliferation goals.
 
Clean Coal.
The United States works with China, India, and  other countries thatcurrently rely heavily on coal for power generation to advance the development anddeployment of clean coal technologies. In addition, the U.S. leads the CarbonSequestration Leadership Forum, which engages 23 other countries and economies oncarbon capture and sequestration technologies. Going  forward, we will continue to usethese bilateral and multilateral efforts to promote clean coal technologies.
 
Energy Efficiency.
The Obama Administration has aggressively promoted energyefficiency through the Clean En ergy Ministerial and key bilateral programs. The cost-effective opportunities are enormous: The Ministerial’ s Super-Efficient Equipment andAppliance Deployment Initiative and its Global Superior Energy PerformancePartnership are helping to accelerate  the global adoption of standards and practices thatwould cut energy waste e quivalent to more than 650 mid-size power plants b y 2030. Wewill work to expand these efforts focusing on several critical areas, including: improving building efficiency, reducing energy consumption at water and wastewater treatmentfacilities, and expanding global appliance standards.
Negotiating Global Free Trade in Environmental Goods and Services:
The U.S. will work with trading partners to launch negotiations at  the World Trade Organization towards global freetrade in environmental goods, including clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro andgeothermal. The U.S. will build on  the consensus it recently forged among the 21  Asia-PacificEconomic Cooperation (APEC) economies in this area. In 2011,  APEC economies agreed toreduce tariffs to 5 percent or less b y 2015 on a negotiated list of 5 4 environmental goods. The APEC list will serve as a foundation for a  global agreement in the WTO, with participatingcountries expanding the scope by adding products of interest. Over the next year, we will work towards securing participation of countries which account  for 90 percent of global trade inenvironmental goods, representing roughly $481 billion in annual environmental goods trade.We will also work in the Trade in Services Agreement ne gotiations towards achieving free tradein environmental services.
Phasing Out Subsidies that Encourage Wasteful Consumption of Fossil Fuels:
TheInternational Energy Agency estimates that the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies – which  amountto more than $500 billion annually – would lead to a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gasemissions below business as usual by 2050. At the  2009 G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, the UnitedStates successfully advocated for a commitment to phase out  these subsidies, and we have sincewon similar commitments in other fora such as APEC. President Obama is calling for  theelimination of U.S. fossil fuel tax subsidies in his Fiscal Year (FY) 2014  budget, and we willcontinue to collaborate with partners around the  world toward this goal.
Leading Global Sector Public Financing Towards Cleaner Energy:
Under this Administration, the United States has successfully mobilized billions of dollars for clean energyinvestments in developing countries, helping to accelerate their transition to a green, low-carboneconomy. Building on these successes, the  President calls for an end to U.S.  government supportfor public financing of new co al plants overseas, except for (a) the most efficient coal technolo gyavailable in the world’s poorest countries in cases where no  other economically feasiblealternative exists, or (b) facilities deploying carbon capture and sequ estration technologies. As part of this new commitment, we will work actively to secure the agreement of other countriesand the multilateral development banks to adopt  similar policies as soon as possible.
Strengthening Global Resilience to Climate Change:
Failing to prepare adequately for theimpacts of climate change that can no lon ger be avoided will put millions of people at  risk, jeopardizing important development gains, and increasing the security risks that stem fromclimate change. That is why the Obama Administration has made historic investments in bolstering the capacity of countries to respond to climate-change risks. Going forward, we willcontinue to:
Strengthen government and local community planning and response capacities, such as by increasing water storage and water use efficiency to cope with the increasedvariability in water supply
Develop innovative financial risk management tools such as index insurance to helpsmallholder farmers and pastoralists manage risk associated with  changing rainfall patterns and drought
Distribute drought-resistant seeds and promote management practices that increasefarmers’ ability to cope with  climate impacts.
Mobilizing Climate Finance:
International climate finance is an important tool in our efforts to promote low-emissions, climate-resilient development. We have fulfilled our joint developedcountry commitment from the Copenhagen Accord  to provide approximately $30 billion of climate assistance to developing countries over FY 2010-FY 20 12. The United S tates contributedapproximately $7.5 billion to this effort over the three  year period. Going forward, we will seek to build on this progress as well as foc us our efforts on combining our public resources withsmart policies to mobilize much larger flows of private investment in low-emissions and climateresilient infrastructure.
 
II.  Leading Efforts to Address Climate Change through International Negotiations
 The United States has made  historic progress in the international climate negotiations during the past four years. At the Copenhagen Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change (UNFCCC) in 2009, President Obama and other world leaders agreed for thefirst time that all major countries, whether developed or developing, would implement targets or actions to limit greenhouse emissions, and do so under a new regime of internationaltransparency. And in 2011, at the year-end climate meeting in Durban, we achieved another  breakthrough: Countries agreed to negotiate a new agreement by the end of 2015 that wouldhave equal legal force and be applicable to all countries in the period after 2020. This was animportant step beyond the previous legal agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, whose core obligationsapplied to developed countries, not to China, India, Brazil or other emerging countries.The 2015 climate conference is slated to play a critical role in defining a post-2020 trajectory.We will be seeking an agreement that is ambitious, inclusive and flexible. It needs to beambitious to meet the scale of the challenge facing us. It needs to be inclusive because there isno way to meet that challenge unless all countries step up and play their part. And it needs to beflexible because there are many differently situated parties with their own needs and imperatives,and those differences will have to be accommodated in smart, practical ways.At the same time as we work toward this outcome in the UNFCCC context, we are making progress in a variety of other important negotiations as well. At the Montreal Protocol, we areleading efforts in support of an amendment that would phase down HFCs; at the InternationalMaritime Organization, we have agreed to and are now implementing the first-ever sector-wide,internationally applicable energy efficiency standards; and at the International Civil AviationOrganization, we have ambitious aspirational emissions and energy efficiency targets and areworking towards agreement to develop a comprehensive global approach.