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White House releases progress report on Obama climate action plan

On Wednesday in Washington, D.C. the White House released a one-year progress update of the President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, revealing a strong start to action in combating against and living with climate change.

U.S. President Barack Obama continues to push for common sense measures to combat climate change during a commencement address for UC Irvine students in Anaheim, Calif. June 14, 2014.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The plan, first announced in June 2013, calls for a three-pronged approach to combating and preparing for climate change through the reduction of carbon pollution in the United States, the preparation of the nation to be better equipped to handle the effects of climate change and through U.S. leadership within the international community to create greater action on climate change from other nations of the world.

Steps taken thus far to curb greenhouse gas pollution highlighted by the White House website include carbon pollution standards for power plants by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), initial new appliance and equipment efficiency standards from the Department of Energy (DOE) and more efficient building energy codes from the DOE.

Carbon pollution standards are expected to cut power sector carbon pollution by 30% by 2030. Initial appliance and equipment efficiency standards are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 340 million metric tons by 2030. Furthermore, initial revised building codes are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 230 million metric tons by 2030.

In addition, the EPA and Department of Transportation are presently working on a March 2016 rollout of greater fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards and for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

Concerning preparation for dealing with climate change effects which are already plaguing the country and those effects in the future which cannot be averted the White House has started a taskforce made up of local, state, tribal and federal leaders. This taskforce is charged with the responsibility of finding ways to better coordinate the flow of climate change information resources to better meet the needs of communities before, during and after event occurrences.

International partnerships the United States have already started on a multitude of projects involving greenhouse gas emission reduction and clean energy production. In addition to the European Union many nations are involved with the United States in these efforts including China, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.

According to a statement from the White House, in the end the action plan is expected to:

  • Cut nearly 3 billion tons of carbon pollution between 2020 and 2025, an amount equivalent to taking more than 600 million cars off the road for a year
  • Enable the development of 8,100 megawatts of wind, solar, and geothermal energy, enough to power nearly 2 million homes;
  • Train more than 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry;
  • Save consumers more than $60 billion on their energy bills through 2030;
  • Improve the energy efficiency of more than 1 billion square feet of city buildings, schools, multifamily housing complexes, and business across the country, an area the size of 17,000 football fields; and
  • Protect the health of vulnerable Americans, including children and the elderly, by preventing 150,000 asthma attacks and up to 3,300 heart attacks.

“I am convinced this is the fight America can, and will, lead in the 21st century,” President Obama stated in June 2013 when initially announcing the action plan. He continued, “And I’m convinced this is a fight that America must lead. But it will require all of us to do our part."

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