This week, I am in Warsaw, Poland at the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 19) spreading the word about the President’s Climate Action Plan to our international partners.
Since the President launched his plan in June of this year, U.S. government agencies have been working to put the plan into action and make progress toward securing a healthy planet for future generations. The plan seeks to cut carbon pollution in the U.S., prepare American communities for potential climate change impacts and help lead international efforts to find a global solution to climate change.
On Monday, I spoke on a panel about the progress we are achieving through the Climate Action Plan. I was joined by EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Pershing from the Department of Energy, and Global Climate Change Coordinator Kit Batten from USAID, as well as by Secretary of State John Kerry through a video message. Together, we outlined the important actions underway, including carbon pollution standards for power plants under the Clean Air Act, significant investments in clean energy technology and energy efficiency, and global partnerships to reduce deforestation and advance low emission development.
Taken together, these actions will help us to achieve our international commitment to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and will position the U.S. as a leader in the new global low-carbon economy.
Even in the context of ambitious actions to mitigate the causes of climate change, we know we must act to prepare communities for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, which we are already seeing in bigger and more frequent storms, droughts, floods, and other severe weather events. On November 1st, the President signed an Executive Order directing Federal agencies to take necessary steps to help communities to better prepare for the impacts of climate change. In particular, the Order directed Federal agencies to: remove barriers to and incentivize climate-resilient investments; improve natural resource sustainability by making common sense improvements to land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations; and provide information, data, and tools for climate change preparedness through a climate data platform to inform decisions by state, local, and private-sector leaders.
At the same time, the President created the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience – a team of state, local, and tribal leaders from across the United States who will use their first-hand experience in preparedness and resilience to advise federal action.
Even with the President’s actions to reduce carbon pollution and prepare our communities for impacts we are currently experiencing, one thing is certain – we can’t do this alone. Everyone – private companies, federal governments, non-profits, think tanks, developed and developing country citizens – must come together and take their part in a global solution to climate change.
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality