In his weekly address last Friday, President Obama summed up his administration’s record on climate change. Calling it “one of the most urgent challenges of our time,” he pointed to progress made since 2008. This includes:
- clean energy investment (300% increase in wind power, 3000% increase in solar power),
- lowest carbon emissions from energy in 25 years,
- continued economic growth,
- energy efficiency investment,
- changed management of coal mining on federal lands (source of 40% of US coal), and
- higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards.
On his “to do” list during the last months of his last term, President Obama put:
- implementing new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles** and
- devising plans to achieve the North American goal (with Mexico and Canada) of 50% clean power by 2025.
While the President did not specifically address US ratification of the Paris Agreement, he closed this short “fireside chat” by highlighting US leadership on climate change. He said: “[T]here’s no doubt that America has become a global leader in the fight against climate change. Last year, that leadership helped us bring nearly 200 nations together in Paris around the most ambitious agreement in history to save the one planet we’ve got. That’s not something to tear up – it’s something to build upon. And if we keep pushing, and leading the world in the right direction, there’s no doubt that, together, we can leave a better, cleaner, safer future for our children.”
You may watch the short address here.
** These final rules for medium- and heavy-duty trucks came out just after I posted. Heavy-duty trucks alone account for about 20% of US transportation GHG emissions. According to the EPA, these fuel efficiency standards will “lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, including benefits to our climate and the public health of Americans. These benefits outweigh costs by about an 8-to-1 ratio.”