September in Review: U.S. and China Team Up on Climate, President Obama Visits Alaska, Administration Emphasizes Implementation in Lead-Up to Paris
On September 25, President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping released the U.S.-China Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change, which lays out actions by both countries to implement the ambitious post-2020 climate targets they set last November in Beijing. The joint statement in November marked a new era of multilateral climate diplomacy, as well as a new pillar in the bilateral relationship. Through this most recent statement, the two leaders reaffirmed their shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity and that our two nations should play a leadership role in addressing it.
The joint statement sets forth a common vision for the Paris climate agreement; demonstrates strong momentum in both countries on domestic climate policy, including our Clean Power Plan and China’s confirmation that it will launch a national cap-and-trade system in 2017 to control carbon emissions; and breaks new ground on climate finance, with China announcing a significant new climate finance commitment.
Earlier in the month, the City of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti hosted the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit to highlight implementation progress of these broader climate efforts on a local scale. The Summit attention was focused on the joint pledges between major U.S. and Chinese cities to execute climate goals. For example, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Zhenjang made commitments to peak CO2 emissions around 2020 – a decade earlier than China’s national target. U.S. cities and states announced ambitious emissions reduction targets as well, including California’s commitment to reduce emissions by 80-90% below 1990 levels by 2050 and Seattle’s commitment to produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
See Senior Advisor Brain Deese’s Medium post for additional details on our international climate progress.
September News & Events
From August 31 to September 2, President Obama traveled to Alaska to see firsthand the impacts of climate change on the environment and peoples of the Arctic. Accompanied by his top science and climate advisors, the President celebrated the renaming of Denali, engaged with indigenous populations to foster cooperation in resilience efforts, and even made a guest appearance with survival expert Bear Grylls to discuss the impacts of climate change on the region. Watch the President’s adventures here!
On September 15, the Administration launched the Solar Power International program to provide more than $120 million to scale up clean energy in 24 states and Washington, D.C. In the announcement, Vice President Biden highlighted important facets of the clean energy initiative, such as the Department of Energy’sSolar Ready Vets program and USDA grants to reduce electricity costs in rural areas. Other DOE contributions include $30 million for Technology-to-Market development for solar energy systems, $20 million for photovoltaics research and development, and a host of awards through the SunShot Initiative.
On September 28, the White House convened a Summit on Offshore Wind. The Summit provided an opportunity for Federal agencies, State and city officials, U.S. and European wind developers and equipment suppliers, and European government officials to discuss the future of offshore wind in the U.S. In conjunction with the event, the White House announced the establishment of a Federal interagency working group and multilateral dialogue on offshore wind as well as the funding by DOE of a state-led project to develop a regional roadmap for offshore wind in the Northeast.
On September 10, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released the 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR). The report examines the status of science and technology that form the foundation of national energy systems, as well as the research and development opportunities to advance them, with a focus on the need to respond to the challenges of climate change through evolving technological innovation. The QTR complements the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) that the Department of Energy released last spring.
Summer News & Events
Clean Power Plan
On August 3, President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy released the final Clean Power Plan, a historic step in the Obama Administration’s fight against climate change. The Plan sets emission reduction targets and states will develop tailored plans to achieve the needed reductions. The CPP is expected to cut carbon pollution to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 while also cutting emissions of harmful particulates and smog-forming co-pollutants—avoiding up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, up to 1,700 heart attacks, and 300,000 missed school and work days each year once fully implemented in 2030. The Plan will cut pollution by driving investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other lower-carbon power generation sources.
The economic benefits of the Clean Power Plan far outweigh the costs. The Plan will generate an estimated $54 billion worth of public health and climate benefits and $85 in annual energy bill savings per household, which will provide $155 billion in American consumer savings from 2020-2030. Learn more about the benefits and costs here.
On July 27, Secretary of State John Kerry and senior White House officials hosted 13 of the largest companies who are standing with the Obama Administration to launch the American Business Act on Climate Pledge : Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart. By signing the American Business Act on Climate pledge, these companies voiced their support for a strong Paris outcome, demonstrated an ongoing commitment to climate action, and set an example for their peers. In total, the pledge represented at least $140 billion in new low-carbon investment and more than 1,600 megawatts of new renewable energy.
Solar Access For All
On July 7, Brian Deese was joined by Congressman Cummings and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in Baltimore to announce a new initiative to increase access to solar for all Americans, including low- and moderate- income communities, and expand opportunities join the solar workforce. The Initiative builds on the growing solar power industry, which, in 2014, brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008 and added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. Read more about the Administration’s efforts to increase solar access and jobs for low-income Americans.
On June 19, the EPA and Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly proposed standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation.
By The Numbers: The standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons, cut fuel costs by about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. These reductions are nearly equal to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with energy use by all U.S. residences in one year. The total oil savings under the program would be greater than a year’s worth of U.S. imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
On June 16, the White House hosted a Clean Energy Investment Summit highlighting more than $4 billion of independent commitments by major foundations, institutions, and other long-term investors to fund climate change solutions. At the summit, Vice President Biden also emphasized a number Executive Actions designed to unlock capital for innovation, including DOE’s new Clean Energy Impact Investment Center, Treasury’s efforts to encourage impact investments by charitable foundations, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) expanding access to capital for innovative clean energy companies, and OMB’s increased transparency on federal funding for clean energy.
On August 24, President Obama announced a number of executive action and private sector commitments to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help households save on their energy bills and help America transition to cleaner, and more distributed energy resources. Key announcement included, making $1 billion in additional loan guarantee authority available and announcing new guidelines for distributed energy projects utilizing innovative technology and states looking to access this financing; and unlocking residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for single-family housing to make is easier for Americans to invest in clean energy technologies.
Unable to catch President Obama’s remarks at the National Clean Energy Summit? You can read his speech here.