CEQ Chair Sutley Gives Keynote Speech at the U.S. Center in Copenhagen
Highlights Actions by Obama Administration to Address Climate Change and Create a New Energy Future for the U.S.
COPENHAGEN – White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley gave the keynote speech today at the U.S. Center in Copenhagen entitled, "Backing up International Agreement with Domestic Action." Her remarks underscored President Obama’s commitment to passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation that will put America back in control of our energy future and make us more energy independent. She also announced that the Obama Administration will commit $5 million to jump start international cooperation on a strategy to reduce black carbon emissions in and around the Arctic.
Sutley outlined the historic progress the Obama Administration has made to address climate change and create a new energy future for the United States. Highlights from her remarks and the announcement on black carbon are below:
"We recognize that climate change has no borders and requires the dedication of all nations doing their individual parts to contribute to a solution. We know that black carbon contributes to climate change by warming the atmosphere and by darkening the surface of snow and ice, speeding melting. Recent studies have indicated that black carbon plays a particularly significant role in the observed amplified warming of the Arctic."
"Unlike long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, black carbon’s warming effects are short-lived, and therefore, while substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are necessary to preserve the Arctic, reductions in emissions of black carbon and other short-lived forcers will help mitigate Arctic warming in the near term. Today, on behalf of President Obama, I am announcing that the Administration will commit $5 million to jump start international cooperation on a strategy to reduce black carbon emissions in and around the Arctic. We want to reduce Arctic warming while yielding significant direct public health and ecosystem benefits."
Sutley also focused on investments made through the Recovery Act.
"The Recovery Act includes a historic $80 billion in clean energy investments that will produce over $150 billion in clean energy projects," said Chair Sutley. "This will allow us to double our capacity to generate renewable energy in the United States; develop new battery technologies for plug-in hybrids; weatherize homes to improve efficiency and create local jobs; and invest in training for American workers to build a smarter and stronger grid."
"When it comes to residential buildings, the Administration is making the largest single investment in home energy efficiency in U.S history. We are on track to weatherize the homes of half a million low income Americans through retrofits by the end of next year," said Chair Sutley. "Over the next several years, federal investments will help millions of American families cut their utility bills by making their homes and appliances more energy efficient."
She also spoke to the advancements made in improving vehicle efficiency standards.
"In the transportation sector, we have instituted historic new vehicle efficiency standards that will reduce greenhouse gas pollution, ultimately requiring an average fuel economy of 35.5 mpg by 2016 for model years 2012 to 2016. The new standards are projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program with a fuel economy gain averaging more than 5% per year and a reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions."
Chair Sutley also cited Recovery Through Retrofit, a report recently released by the Middle Class Task Force and the Council on Environmental Quality, that proposes Federal action to lay the groundwork for a self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry. It builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient.
She also discussed the Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, that committed the Federal government to lead by example by enhancing sustainability in Federal government operations. Among other initiatives, the Executive Order requires Federal agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
"This initiative sets real and meaningful efficiency, sustainability, and pollution reduction targets for federal agencies," said Chair Sutley. "By putting the size and scale of the United States federal government to work to help build a clean energy economy, we can save energy, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, save taxpayer dollars, and help turn good entrepreneurial ideas into great American enterprises that create jobs."
Chair Sutley also noted the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force’s work, an interagency group that represents 23 Administration Agencies, Departments and Offices.
"The Task Force will recommend a national adaptation strategy utilizing best practices and will integrate climate change resilience into Federal Government operations," said Chair Sutley. "The Task Force will also increase awareness across the nation about our vulnerability to climate impacts, equip communities with information to use in local adaptation policies and learn from communities who have already taken steps to adapt."
"I can assure you that after decades of Washington ignoring this reality," concluded Chair Sutley, "we now have a President who is deeply committed to a comprehensive approach to energy and climate that will reduce the threat of deadly pollution, generate millions of clean energy jobs and break our dependence on oil."