President’s Climate Action Plan

Earth from space

The Executive Office of the President has released the President’s Climate Action Plan, in which President Obama states that “we have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged.”

The world has been experiencing the devastating consequences of inaction on climate change. In the United States, 2012 was “the second most extreme year on record for the nation” with record high temperatures, increasing wildfires, and billions of dollars spent on responding to these environmental issues. These disasters show that “climate change is no longer a distant threat – we are already feeling its impacts across the country and the world. Last year was the warmest year ever in the contiguous United States and about one-third of all Americans experienced 10 days or more of 100-degree heat. The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years. Asthma rates have doubled in the past 30 years and our children will suffer more asthma attacks as air pollution gets worse. And increasing floods, heat waves, and droughts have put farmers out of business, which is already raising food prices dramatically.”

In order to slow the effects of climate change, the plan put forth by the President consists of three main pillars, including:

1) Cutting carbon pollution in the United States with strict new regulations
2) Preparing the U.S. for the impacts of climate change by strengthening our nation’s infrastructure
3) Leading international efforts to combat global climate change by combining domestic action with international leadership

Under these three broad pillars, the plan also outlines a number of more specific recommendations to be undertaken:

  • Deploying clean energy
  • Increasing fuel economy standards
  • Cutting energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories
  • Building stronger, safer communities and infrastructure
  • Preserving the role of forests in mitigating climate change
  • Protecting our economy and natural resources
  • Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
  • Enhancing multilateral engagement with major economies
  • Expanding bilateral cooperation with major emerging economies
  • Mobilizing climate finance

In his speech on the climate action plan, President Obama discussed the 1968 broadcast from lunar orbit done by the astronauts of Apollo 8, in which they described the Earth as they saw it and took a photograph of our planet. Jim Lovell, one of the astronauts, expressed, “It makes you realize, just what you have back there on Earth.”

President Obama then concluded: “[T]hat image in the photograph, that bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface, containing everything we hold dear — the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity — that’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if we remember that, I’m absolutely sure we’ll succeed.”

For a transcript of this speech, click here.

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