The White House on Tuesday released a plan to cut global carbon pollution and address the effects of climate change in three broad ways: cutting carbon pollution domestically, preparing the country to be resilient to climate impacts, and leading international efforts to target climate change.
Below are key highlights of the administration's 'Climate Action Plan':
The domestic front
- Obama will issue a presidential order to direct the country's chief environmental regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency, to complete performance standards for lowering carbon emissions from existing power plants with feedback from states, power companies, and other stakeholders.
- The EPA is directed to finalise carbon limits rules for new power plants by September 20, 2013.
- The EPA is directed to draft carbon limits for existing power plants by June 2014, to be finalised one year later.
- The Department of the Interior is tasked with permitting enough renewable energy projects – wind and solar, for example – on public lands by 2020 to power more than six million homes. The Department is also directed with installing 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020.
- The United States has set a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least three billion metric tonnes cumulatively by 2030, more than half the annual carbon pollution from the US energy sector, via efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings.
- New fuel economy standards will be developed for heavy vehicles and trucks in model year 2018 and beyond.
- The plan also leverages "new opportunities" to reduce pollution from hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases used in air conditioning and refrigerators.
- The plan commits to expanding major new and existing international initiatives, including bilateral agreements with China, India, and other major emitting countries.
- It calls for the end of US government support for public financing of new coal-fired powers plants overseas, except for the world's poorest countries or facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
- The United States commits to working with trading partners to launch negotiations at the World Trade Organization for a global free trade in environmental goods, which include clean energy technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
- Federal agencies are directed to support local climate-resilient investment by removing barriers or counterproductive policies.
- The plan establishes a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on actions the federal government can take to help strengthen communities on the ground.
- Pilot strategies are established for areas affected by 2012's Hurricane Sandy to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts.
- The plan establishes a National Drought Resilience Partnership and expands restoration efforts for forest and rangeland to make areas less vulnerable to catastrophic fire.