Under President Obama, the United States has made significant progress in reducing carbon pollution. During 2009-2011, average U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell to the lowest level for any three-year period since 1994-1996, due to contributions from both economic factors and government policies. The 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report outlines how existing and planned U.S. action on climate change puts the United States on a path to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report fulfills a commitment under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to publish every four years a National Communication that provides a comprehensive report on actions taken to combat climate change and thereby meet the objectives and provisions of the UNFCCC. In addition, for the first time, the Climate Action Report includes a Biennial Report that outlines progress that Parties are making in meeting targets and actions they have pledged to fulfill in the period leading up to 2020.
Highlights from the 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report:
- The United States made significant progress during President Obama’s first term in reducing emissions. This includes doubling electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal, establishing the toughest fuel economy standards in U.S. history, and promoting efficiency in our homes and businesses.
- Maintaining our progress requires further action. Through the President’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. will take a multifaceted, multisector approach to find opportunities across the economy to enhance efficiency and reduce harmful pollution.
- The Climate Action Report indicates that the goal to reduce emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is both ambitious and achievable through a range of actions across the economy. The Climate Action Plan significantly enhances U.S. domestic efforts to address climate change by setting the U.S. on a path to:
— Put in place new rules to cut carbon pollution from the power sector;
— Enhance action on energy efficiency and clean energy technologies; and,
— Reduce methane (CH4) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions.
The United States is preparing for the impacts of climate change. The Obama Administration is working to strengthen America’s resilience to the effects of climate change, which are already being felt across the country. States and communities are also taking steps to protect themselves by improving building codes, adjusting the way they manage natural resources, investing in more resilient infrastructure, and planning for rapid recovery from extreme weather events. To further this work, President Obama established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience of Governors, Mayors, Tribal Leaders, and local officials, in November, 2013, to share approaches and advise the federal government on building preparedness and resilience across the United States.
About the 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report:
The U.S. Climate Action Report contains two documents, the first-ever U.S. Biennial Report and the sixth quadrennial National Communication. This report reflects the input of 21 federal agencies. The U.S. Government also provided an opportunity for public comment through a notice in the Federal Register posted on September 26th, and the final document reflects many suggestions provided by members of the public.
Together these documents:
- Explain how U.S. social and economic circumstances affect U.S. greenhouse gas emission levels;
- Summarize U.S. greenhouse gas emission trends from 1990 through 2011;
- Identify existing and planned U.S. policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- Show future trends for U.S. greenhouse gas emissions under both existing and planned climate policies and measures;
- Outline the potential impacts of climate change on the United States and the preparedness and resilience measures the Nation is taking to address those impacts;
- Provide information on climate-related financial resources and technology diffusion; and
- Detail U.S. research and systematic observation efforts and describe U.S. climate education, training, and outreach initiatives.
The United States led efforts in recent years to establish biennial reporting requirements through the UNFCCC, in order to increase transparency and promote accountability in the global effort to combat climate change. As a result of decisions taken in recent meetings, all Parties to the UNFCCC are to report, over the course of the coming year, on their progress in combating climate change and in meeting specific actions in the period leading to 2020. Developed country Parties report at the beginning of 2014 and developing country Parties report at the end of 2014.