U.S. Environmental Policy to Combat Global Warming

942 words | 4 page(s)

U.S. is the largest economy in the world and one of the major energy producer and consumer, thus, it is only reasonable for the global community to expect from U.S. to lead the charge in the fight against global warming. Due to its economic and political leverage on the global stage, U.S. is in a position to set powerful precedents for other countries. The fight against global warming is not only being led in the U.S. in the public arena but private sector is also playing a major role by making significant investments in cleaner and sustainable technologies. One thing is clear that the government is serious in gaining energy independence through development of reliable and cleaner energy sources that would also help the country significantly lower its carbon emissions.

The most important public agency in the U.S. to lead the charge against global warming is Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency employs various tools to increase awareness, fund research, and influence energy consumption patterns. First of all, the agency creates rules and standards to influence organizational and individual behaviors. EPA is now working on Carbon Pollution Standards to regulate power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution in the country. The agency also works closely with the private sector to implement programs that resulted in reduction of 345 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2010 alone. Similarly, the agency funds a number of research activities to better understand climate change as well as develop policies that may be effective in combating it. The agency also provides consultation services to state, local, and tribal governments .

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Climate change is getting attention at the highest levels of U.S. Government now, with President Obama personally committed to the fight against global warming. Earlier this year, President Obama reiterated that we have to do something about global warming before it’s too late. He even instructed the State Department not to approve the construction of the XL pipeline until it can be proven that the project will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. He claimed that the project’s climate impact will need to be understood before deciding whether the project should be allowed to move forward. In his final term, President Obama’s strategy to combat global warming has three main elements which are cutting carbon emissions, preparing the country for impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts against carbon pollution. The President has not been afraid to use his executive powers to lead government efforts against global warming .

The U.S. Government understands its political leverage and has been using it to lead the international efforts against global warming. In December 2009, the U.S. and other countries agreed to reduce their carbon emissions in a transparent manner under the Copenhagen Accord. The Cancun Agreement in 2010 extended core elements of Copenhagen Accord. In December 2011, the U.S. and its international partners took steps to implement Cancun Accord provisions as well as establish a Green Climate Fund. U.S. President Barack Obama also launched The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in April 2009 whose members include 17 major economies such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, and U.K. besides the U.S. In February 2012, the U.S. launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution to speed up progress on clean air. The coalition now has over thirty members including the European Commission. The U.S. has also been leading international coalition to phase down global production and consumptions of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol .

While President Obama calls for cutting emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, the U.S. House passed The American Clean Energy and Security Act which calls for 83 percent reduction in carbon emissions below the year 2005 level by 2050. The Obama Administration understands the importance of involving private sector in the fight against global warming, thus, it has provided the private sector with billions of dollars to develop the next-generation green technologies. Many of these ambitious goals to achieve energy independence have been outlined in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act .

It is important to note that the fight against global warming has mostly been the priority of Obama Administration. President Obama’s predecessor President Bush’s Administration took a passive approach to the fight against global warming. President Bush’s Administration almost singlehandedly derailed the Kyoto Protocol when President Bush announced in March 2001 that the U.S. would withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. U.S. ratification was important to the treaty because for the treaty to be internationally binding, it had to be ratified by at least 55 nations who together accounted for 55 percent of the total carbon emissions in 1990. U.S. alone was responsible for 25 percent of the carbon emissions in 1990, thus, it was a huge blow to the prospects of the treaty. But eventually the international community found a way to proceed with the treaty .

It is clear that the U.S. is seriously committed to playing a leading role in the global fight against global warming. President Obama Administration has not only focused on building international coalitions but has also empowered EPA. In addition, the administration has provided billions of dollars to the private sector to help the country achieve energy independence through cleaner and sustainable energy sources.

  • CSA. Global Warming and the Kyoto Protocol . July 2001. 1 December 2013 .
  • Graves, Lucia. Obama Climate Change 2013 Policy Speech Outlines Executive Orders. 26 June 2013. 1 December 2013 .
  • New England Aquariam. Climate change policy in the United States. 1 December 2013 .
  • The White House. Climate Change. 1 December 2013 .
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency. What EPA is Doing about Climate Change. 1 December 2013 .

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