THE WHITE HOUSE
Addressing Climate Change
President Obama recognizes that climate change poses an economic, security, and environmental threat
that demands a decisive response. The impacts of climate change – including warmer temperatures,
extreme weather, and sea level rise - are already being felt, across the Nation and around the world.
By building on important progress achieved during the President’s first term, the United States can
meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas pollution 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and make
additional progress in forging a robust international response to this global challenge. We must also
improve our ability to manage the climate impacts that are already being felt at home and around the
world. Preparing for increasingly extreme weather and other consequences of climate change will save
lives now and help to secure long-term American prosperity. To that end, the President is committed to
building stronger, more resilient infrastructure and communities.
Cutting carbon pollution: In 2009, President Obama set a goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. During the first term we have made important
progress towards that goal. The President has called on Congress to finish the job and stated that
he will use existing authorities to cut carbon pollution absent Congressional action.
Catalyzing broad-based national action to double both renewable electricity generation and
energy productivity: Building on momentum from the first term, the President is calling for
doubling renewable electricity by 2020 and overall energy productivity by 2030. The
Administration will continue to work with Congress, state and local leaders, Tribes, the private
sector, and civil society to reach these objectives, including through the launch of a Race to the
Top challenge to spur energy efficiency progress at the state level.
Helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other climate impacts: The
Administration is committed to partnering with governors, mayors and other leaders to help
bolster climate change resilience and encourage innovative approaches to local planning and
Taking New Action
President Obama set a goal to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels
by 2020. During the first term we have made significant progress towards that goal. The President has
directed his cabinet to identify additional executive actions from across the administration to help
reduce pollution, prepare our cities and nation for the worsening effects of climate change, and
accelerate the transition to more sustainable sources of energy, which will be assessed if Congress does
not take action. In addition, the Administration will seek partnerships with states, localities and
businesses to make progress together and challenge federal agencies to reduce their own carbon
pollution. Given that climate change is a global problem, the Administration will also seek to galvanize
global action to slash greenhouse gas and other climate pollution by all major emitters.
Setting a new goal to double American renewable electricity generation again by 2020. In order to
double generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources by 2020, relative to 2012 levels, the
President called on Congress to make the renewable energy Production Tax Credit permanent and
refundable, which will provide incentive and certainty for investments in new clean energy. Instead
of continuing century-old subsidies to oil companies, the President believes that we need to invest
in the energy of the future.
Established a new goal to double American energy productivity by 2030. The President issued a
bold but achievable goal to cut our economy’s energy waste in half over the next twenty years.
More specifically, the Administration will take action aimed at doubling the economic output per
unit of energy consumed in the United States by 2030, relative to 2010 levels.
o Announced a new Energy Efficiency Race to the Top challenge for states. Modeled after a
successful Administration approach in education reform, which was designed to promote
forward-leaning policies at the state-level, the President’s budget includes $200 million in
Race to the Top awards to support state governments that implement effective policies to
cut energy waste. Key opportunities for states to increase energy productivity include:
modernizing utility regulations to encourage cost-effective investments in efficiency like
combined heat and power, clean distributed generation, and demand response resources;
enhancing and standardizing financing tools for efficiency upgrades; adopting and
enforcing the latest building codes; and improving grid operations. Not only will increased
efficiency save consumers money, the resulting reforms will drive investments that enhance
manufacturing competitiveness, improve grid resiliency, and cut carbon pollution.
o Committing to build on the success of existing partnerships with the public and private
sector to use energy wisely. Over the next four years, the President is committed to
accelerating progress on energy productivity including through the Better Buildings
Challenge, improving energy data access for consumers through the "Green Button"
initiative, and making appliances even more efficient - saving consumers money, spurring
innovation, and strengthening domestic manufacturing.
Partnering with governors, mayors and other leaders to help American communities prepare for
climate impacts: The President is proposing a “Resilient Communities Challenge” to bolster
climate change preparedness. This program would encourage innovative approaches to local
planning and preparedness, such as resilient building codes, cost-effectiveness models for climate
change response, designs for using natural infrastructure to increase resilience, and constructing
Promoting Safe and Responsible Use of Natural Gas in the Power and Transportation Sectors: Our
domestic natural gas resources are reducing energy costs across the economy – for manufacturers
investing in new facilities and families benefiting from lower heating costs. The President’s budget
will invest more than $40 million in research to ensure safe and responsible natural gas production
and a new $25 million prize for the first, natural gas combined cycle power plant to integrate
carbon capture and storage. The President is also committed to accelerating the growth of this
domestically abundant fuel and other alternative fuels in the transportation sector in a way that
benefits our planet, our economy, and our energy security.
Leading Internationally: The Administration will seek to galvanize global action to slash
greenhouse gas and other climate pollution by all major emitters through key fora such as the
Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, the Clean Energy Ministerial, and the Climate and
Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, while pressing for continued
progress through the international climate negotiations, the Montreal Protocol, and supporting the
IAEA mission on safe, secure, peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Building on Progress
These new actions build on significant first term progress in cutting carbon pollution and supporting
preparedness for extreme weather and other climate change impacts:
Cut pollution and saved money for consumers through energy efficiency. During President Obama’s
first term, significant progress was made in cutting domestic carbon pollution by raising fuel
efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025;
establishing first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks; weatherizing
more than 1 million homes and forging private and public partnerships to drive investments in
energy efficiency in commercial buildings; and setting appliance efficiency standards for nearly 40
products that will save consumers hundreds of billions off their utility bills through 2030.
Delivered on commitment to double renewable energy during the first term. Since 2008, the U.S. has
doubled renewable generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. We've helped develop
nearly 50,000 new clean energy projects that are supporting jobs all across the country. Last year,
the President set a goal to permit 10,000 megawatts of renewables on public lands – a goal the
Interior Department achieved. America is now home to some of the largest wind and solar farms in
Improving manufacturing competitiveness and enhancing our energy infrastructure. Last summer,
the President issued an Executive Order to accelerate investment in industrial energy efficiency,
including setting a new challenge to achieve 40 gigawatts of new combined heat and power (CHP)
by 2020. Achieving the President’s CHP goal will save energy users, such as homes and businesses,
$10 billion per year in energy costs and reduce carbon pollution by 150 million metric tons, the
equivalent of 25 million cars.
Cut federal government carbon pollution: In 2010, President Obama announced that the federal
Government would reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent by 2020. Agencies are
also meeting the President’s directive to enter into at least $2 billion in performance-based contracts
by the end of this year to achieve substantial energy savings at no net cost to American taxpayers.
Developed first-ever plans to safeguard federal investments and natural resources in the face of
climate change: Through the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force launched by the President,
agencies have developed their first-ever climate change adaptation plans to ensure smart decisions
that protect taxpayer investments and safeguard the health and safety of communities, economies,
Launched new programs and partnerships to improve resilience to climate impacts: Federal
agencies have launched a number of programs targeted at increasing preparedness and resilience to
climate change impacts. For example, The U.S. Department of Transportation has partnered with
local Departments of Transportation across the country to pilot approaches to conduct vulnerability
assessments of transportation infrastructure and analyze options for improving resiliency. In
addition, federal agencies are working with local governments to provide technical assistance to
evaluate threats of future sea level rise, including saltwater intrusion of groundwater supplies and
Led international efforts to reduce climate pollution and build global climate resiliency. In the
past four years, the Administration has led efforts in the international climate negotiations that
have produced the first set of national greenhouse gas reduction commitments by all major
developed and developing countries alike, the most robust transparency system to date, historic
global efforts in support of climate resiliency, and more. At the same time, we have worked to
advance concrete climate and clean energy efforts through a range of international initiatives,
including working through the G20 and other fora for the global phase out of inefficient fossil fuel