Summary

On November 13, The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) hosted a briefing to discuss one of the most important challenges facing President-elect Obama when he takes office – addressing the interrelated problems of climate change and energy and economic security. In September, the Global Carbon Project reported that CO2 emissions – mainly from burning fossil fuels – have grown three percent from 2006 to 2007, a rate faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted last year in its worst-case scenario. The world’s leaders are looking to the new US President for an indication of the kind of leadership and actions he will take to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, especially in preparation for the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009. In addition, societal economic impacts have been an important piece of the climate debate. The PCAP report seeks to offer concrete, achievable options for both the 44th President and the 111th Congress as a new legislative agenda is set for 2009.

The Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP), a two-year initiative of the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs, has gathered leaders from the nation’s science, policy, business and civic sectors to provide the 44th President with background information and educational materials on global warming, as well as a broad portfolio of tools and policy options to address this global challenge. The project does not advocate on behalf of specific climate policies, programs, spending or other actions by the President or the federal government; instead, members of PCAP have developed a bold, comprehensive and non-partisan plan for presidential leadership rooted in climate science and designed to ignite innovation at every level of the American economy.

  • In the first 100 days of the Obama Administration, the Presidential Climate Action Plan recommends pragmatic, practical actions to immediately curb global warming. Such actions would include implementing a national cap and trade program, investing heavily in energy efficiency research, development, and deployment, and striking an agreement with China to move toward sustainable practices.
  • We cannot address climate change without also addressing energy, national security, and foreign policy -- all are interconnected.
  • Globally, we are moving in the wrong direction. Electricity consumption is growing, with the United States consuming five times the rest of the world's average. The wasted electricity in the United States could power the entire Japanese economy.
  • We need a 50-year federal farm policy that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, soil loss, and nitrogen runoff, as well as revitalize rural communities.
  • Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks should be increased to 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
  • Policies that assist low income families with rising energy costs such as refundable tax credits, electronic benefit transfers, and assistance with weatherization and other efficiency upgrades are an important part of the climate change solution. Green job training can also help these individuals benefit from the clean energy economy.
  • Though little federal action has taken place recently, much of the groundwork has been laid to pass new climate-friendly legislation during the Obama Administration. President-elect Obama has been very receptive and has made a personal commitment to move quickly.
  • According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the green market will reach $2.7 billion by 2020. Green technology is seen as a recession-proof investment, and the United States must step up as a leader in advancing sustainability.

Speaker Slides