Manish Bapna highlights five standout climate and energy stories of 2013, which point to signs that some businesses, consumers, and governments are moving toward a growing understanding of the risks of climate change. The question is whether this heightened awareness will shift a global course quickly enough to reduce negative climate impacts. This blog post was originally published at Forbes.
WRI established its U.S. office in 1982. We work to improve water quality, increase awareness of local climate change impacts, and identify cost-effective emissions-reduction opportunities in the United States. Learn more about our work in the United States.
Wisconsin has already taken strides to reduce its near-term power sector CO2 emissions by implementing cost-effective clean energy policies. And the state has the opportunity to go even further. In fact, new WRI analysis finds that Wisconsin can reduce its CO2 emissions 43 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 by extending its existing clean energy policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Wisconsin to meet even ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.
On June 25 2013, President Obama announced the Climate Action Plan to address climate change and put the United States on a trajectory to meet its international commitment of reducing its emissions 17 percent by 2020. The findings of WRI’s flagship report, "Can the U.S. Get There from Here", played a valuable role in influencing the Administration’s decision.
Given prevailing political inertia, there was scant hope in 2012 for any new U.S. legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Another unwelcome dynamic was that many government officials and influential leaders argued without credible evidence that recent declines in U.S. emissions meant the country was already “on track” to meet its international commitment.
WRI responded with its groundbreaking report, which recommended a “Four-Point Plan” to achieve emissions reductions by taking action on existing power plants, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), methane, and energy efficiency. A strong outreach and communications effort followed, resulting in extensive media coverage of the report. We also held briefings for high-level Administration officials and enlisted allies in the environmental and business worlds to echo our message and carry our work into the White House.
When the President announced a Climate Action Plan, it included key elements of WRI’s “Four Point Plan” and other measures to reduce carbon dioxide pollution and prepare for the impacts of climate change. His speech announcing the Plan was the clearest statement by a U.S. President of his intent to use the Administration’s existing legal authority under the Clean Air Act and other enacted legislation to reduce GHG emissions.
Although implementation of the Plan in the coming months and years will determine its success, the Plan itself represents the most substantial and comprehensive approach to addressing domestic GHG emissions since the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010. It also sent a clear signal to the international community that the United States is prepared to take significant actions to reduce its GHG emissions – without Congress, if need be – and be a more constructive partner in international negotiations.
Take a look at four U.S. cities—Boulder, CO.; Salt Lake City, UT; Pinecrest, FL.; and Hoboken, NJ—and it's clear that they are at the frontlines of climate change. But take a closer look and you’ll see that they’re also at the forefront of local climate action.
WRI analysis finds that Wisconsin can reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 43 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 by extending its clean energy policies past 2015 and making better use of existing infrastructure.
President Obama announced the first-ever National Climate Plan for the United States in June 2013. Under the plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will set carbon pollution...
Mayors and city officials from Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, and Utah will be participating in an event in Washington D.C. to discuss how cities are being affected by climate change and what they are doing to adapt to these impacts using state-of-the-art technology and design. The event is being organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the World Resources Institute.