United States Climate Change Actions

Fact Sheet
Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
January 20, 2009

The international community recognizes the importance of moving forward collaboratively in addressing climate change. The Bali Action Plan represents an important step in this global effort by recognizing that all countries that contribute to atmospheric emissions must undertake measurable, reportable, and verifiable mitigation actions in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The world community must work collaboratively to slow, stop, and reverse greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a way that promotes sustainable economic growth, increases energy security, and helps nations deliver greater prosperity for their people. The United States is taking a leading role in achieving these interlinked goals by advancing an ever-expanding suite of measures. We have initiated a number of polices and partnerships that span a wide range of initiatives from reducing our emissions at home to developing transformational low-carbon technologies to improving observations systems that will help us better understand and address the possible impacts of climate change. Our efforts emphasize the importance of results-driven action both internationally and domestically.

As we move from Bali to Poznan to Copenhagen, the United States will continue to engage constructively to contribute to an agreed outcome on a post-2012 arrangement that is both environmentally effective and economically sustainable. We have a track record of success; the following paragraphs detail some of the specific results we have achieved in addressing climate change over the last eight years.

International Leadership – Recent Initiatives:

Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change: The United States initiated a series of meetings that brought 17 of the world's major economies together to reinforce and accelerate global efforts under the UNFCCC, culminating in a Leader’s Meeting in July, 2008. The assembled leaders issued a declaration acknowledging that all Major Economies – developed and developing – have a role in combating climate change and agreeing to continue to work together to promote the success of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009. The leaders also agreed to near-term actions, including:
  • Working together on technology cooperation and cutting emissions in specific economic sectors;
  • Directing trade officials responsible for the WTO Doha negotiations to advance with urgency their discussions on climate-related issues, with an emphasis on eliminating trade barriers, which in turn, will rapidly increase the spread of clean energy technologies;
  • Accelerating technology development, transfer, financing, capacity building and measurement methodologies to support mitigation and adaptation efforts; and
  • Improving energy efficiency and promoting new, climate-beneficial actions under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer.

Washington International Renewable Energy Conference: The Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC 2008) was held March 4-6 in Washington, DC. As the third international ministerial-level event on renewable energy, the conference and associated trade show drew over 9,000 participants from governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Notably, the Ministerial Meeting at WIREC brought together 103 ministers representing energy, economic and scientific sectors of governments around the world. In response to the call issued by the conference organizers, participants submitted over 140 pledge commitments related to the implementation of renewable energy projects on behalf of organizations ranging from governments to civil society to the private sector, including a pledge by the government of Australia to obtain 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Innovative International Partnerships: The United States continues to pursue a range of collaborative, public-private partnerships that increase global capacity to reduce GHG emissions, improve energy security and cut harmful air pollution. In addition to our 15 bilateral and regional climate change partnerships launched since 2002, the United States is collaborating with our international partners on a wide array of strategies to reduce GHG emissions, including through advancing technologies such as hydrogen fuel, carbon sequestration, and cleaner more efficient nuclear technologies. Results include:

  • The Methane to Markets Partnership (M2M): With 26 partner nations and the European Commission, and an extensive project network of nearly 800 members, M2M could recover up to 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by 2015.
  • The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP): The APP provides a unique public-private forum for government and industry leaders from seven of the world’s largest economies to identify opportunities to commercialize and deploy cleaner technologies. Partner countries Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States collectively account for more than half of the world’s population, GDP, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. By engaging private industry as well as government officials from multiple ministries, the APP is using public-private partnerships to build local capacity, improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create new investment opportunities, and remove barriers to the introduction of clean energy technologies in the Asia-Pacific region. APP successes include:
    • APP Power Generation and Transmission Task Force-provided technical support, including assessment, training, and diagnostic equipment, to two large Indian power plants, Kolaghat in West Bengal and Ropar in Punjab, will result in 4 percent boiler efficiency improvement at both 210 MW plants and ultimately achieve 10-15 percent reduction in total CO2 emissions if implemented in full.
    • U.S. APP participant Solar Turbines, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., has placed 15MWe of clean energy technology for the coking industry in China. By using Solar Industrial gas turbines, one customer, Shandong Jinneng Coal Gasification Company, is reducing their CO2 emissions by 40,000 tons per year.

Domestic Action

Decline in emissions growth: Between 2000 and 2006, the United States added more than the GDP of France ($1.5 trillion) and the combined population of Austria and Sweden (17 million people) while net greenhouse gas emissions decreased by three percent.

Ambitious near term domestic measures: We have a diverse portfolio of policy measures including dozens of mandatory, incentive-based, and voluntary programs for our domestic emissions. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) represents a major step forward in expanding the production of renewable fuels, reducing our dependence on oil, and confronting global climate change. Under EISA, almost every sector of the American economy has new mandates to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy security. Preliminary estimates indicate that combined, EISA mandates will prevent 5-6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions through 2030. The policies embodied in this Act and other programs represent a bipartisan consensus in the United States, and include:

· Renewable fuels – 36 billion gallons or roughly 15 percent of fuel supply by 2022;
· Vehicle Fuel Economy – 40 percent improvement to 35 mpg (miles per gallon) by 2020;
· Lighting Efficiency – 25 to 30 percent improvement by 2012-2014, 70 percent by 2020;
· Appliance Efficiency – increase in efficiency standards for over 45 energy-intensive appliances;
· Federal Government Operations – increase efficiency by 30 percent and renewable fuel use 20 percent by 2015;
· ENERGY STAR program reduced GHG emissions by the equivalent of 27 million cars in 2007; and
· Domestic Methane Programs reduced 2006 methane emissions to 11 percent below 1990 levels.

Unmatched investments in science and technology: The United States has devoted nearly $45 billion to climate change since 2001 for climate-related science, technology, observations, international assistance and incentive programs. U.S. investments in energy technology research increased from $1.7 billion in 2001 to $4.3 billion in 2008. The United States also has $67.5 billion in loan guarantee authority available for technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases or air pollutants, including nuclear, large-scale renewables, and clean coal technologies. Our farmers now can compete for billions of dollars in conservation incentives to sequester carbon dioxide.