On October 2, 2012, the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) released its 2012 Action Plan Report recommending programs and policies that the next President of the United States should take to combat climate change and build a clean energy economy. The 2012 report is the fifth in a series of reports issued since PCAP’s inception in 2007 and focuses on “overarching and systemic changes” that the President should pursue to improve the energy and climate security of the United States. The report emphasizes programs and policies the President can implement with his existing executive authorities and without further action by Congress. As the report states, “When the need was great, past presidents have shown that their powers are sufficient to produce historic changes in the course of national and world affairs.”

The report provides an overview of global climate change and the U.S. energy sector and suggests that transforming the United States from a fossil fuel economy to an economy built on efficiency and renewable energy will have substantial, positive economic impacts. PCAP provides 10 recommendations on how the President can use his executive authority and leadership to mitigate global climate change and build a clean energy economy. Some of the key proposals include: “Complete the Job of Pricing Carbon;” “Reform Federal Fiscal Policy for an Advanced Energy Economy;” “Make Sustainable Development a National Security Imperative;” and “Help the American People Envision an Advanced Energy Economy.”

The report includes recommendations for specific executive orders, national security directives, and executive agreements. Additionally, PCAP recommends that the President forcefully push Congress to pass legislation that prices carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and that he make clear that if Congress refuses to act, he will use all available executive authority to cut GHG, including continued action by the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, PCAP says the President should propose: (1) a phase out of all federal financial support to fossil energy industries in five years; (2) extending renewable energy subsidies, but set them on a 25-year scheduled phase out to provide certainty to the business community. Finally, PCAP recommends that the President, “In a televised address, make clear to the American people that security is a shared responsibility and that local resilience, and local efforts to reduce the threat of climate change, increase our security and are acts of good citizenship.”

PCAP asserts that, “Energy and climate security are non-partisan issues...that solutions must serve the public interest rather than special interests...and that climate and energy security are extraordinarily urgent issues that require bold leadership and can no longer be ignored.” The report continues, “Confronting big challenges is what we Americans do. Addressing climate change and energy security are the biggest opportunity for new jobs and industries, a dynamic economy, lasting peace and a better quality of life for our children. Just as important, they are an opportunity to prove again that a free society and open market are capable of dealing with the most serious of threats.”

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