The League of Conservation Voters’ top priority is addressing climate change. We are already seeing the damaging effects of climate change in communities across the U.S. and the globe. Severe droughts, more powerful storms, larger wildfires, flooding, and sea level rise are posing real threats to families and impacting the economy. 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental U.S. and the decade between 2001 and 2010 was the warmest our planet has ever seen.
And we are paying the price for unchecked climate change. Extreme weather costs the U.S. a staggering $485 billion per year, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Hurricane Sandy alone cost $70 billion in direct damages and lost economic output.
It is critical that we reduce carbon pollution and other heat-trapping gases responsible for global warming, which means modernizing the way we produce and consume energy. Today, much of our energy comes from fossil fuels—coal for electricity and gas to power our vehicles. But burning these dirty energy sources means emitting air pollution that endangers our health, traps heat in our atmosphere, and contributes to global warming and all its costly and dangerous impacts. We can reduce this pollution by using less energy, using energy more efficiently, and replacing dirty sources of energy with clean sources like wind and solar power. This transition to clean energy will create millions of American jobs while strengthening our national security and improving our health.
While LCV remains committed to passing national legislation to address climate change and grow the clean energy economy, we are working with the Obama administration to reduce the harmful pollution driving climate change and building support for legislative action in the years to come.
In June 2013, President Obama unveiled a comprehensive Climate Action Plan. The central pillars of this plan are: reducing carbon pollution from the nation’s biggest emitters, specifically coal-fired power plants; reducing energy waste and consumption; expanding clean energy; preparing for global warming’s impacts on our communities and natural resources; and leading international efforts to address climate change. This plan builds on important progress undertaken since President Obama first took office, including landmark clean car standards that roughly double fuel efficiency by 2025. These standards are widely supported by the auto industry, autoworkers, consumer advocates, and environmentalists because they will save consumers money at the pump, reduce our dangerous dependence on oil, reduce carbon pollution, and create jobs.
On June 2, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the Clean Power Plan, the first national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly 40% of the pollution driving climate change. This plan builds on the successful actions many states have already taken to clean up their power sector and grown clean energy alternatives and provides a flexible framework that allows states to craft the solutions that work best for them. Big Oil and Dirty Coal have predictably responded by demanding a free pass to continue polluting. Their allies in Congress have pushed legislation that would gut the EPA’s ability to reduce harmful carbon pollution. LCV will continue working with allies in the Senate and the Obama administration to defeat these assaults on the administration’s efforts to address dangerous climate change.
Passing federal policies to reduce carbon pollution and bring about a clean energy economy is essential to tackling the climate crisis. To that end, LCV worked hard to ensure passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) in the House of Representatives in June 2009. This landmark legislation, while not perfect, would have helped rebuild our manufacturing base by creating millions of clean energy jobs, boosted our national security by lessening our dependence on oil, and protected the planet. Regrettably, defenders of the dirty energy status quo, including the nation’s biggest oil and coal companies and their Senate allies, succeeded in preventing even a vote on similar legislation in the Senate.
It is critical that we enact national policies to tackle climate change and spur our nation’s transition to clean energy sources, but given the anti-environmental leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, the most promising near-term avenues for progress remain the executive actions under the Climate Action Plan.
In addition, LCV remains committed to establishing a global climate treaty. Climate change is a global problem that requires cooperation among nations to solve. LCV is strongly committed to working with Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that the United States fulfills the 17% global warming pollution reduction commitment by 2020 and international funding pledges our nation made at the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. The President’s Climate Action Plan takes strides towards meeting the pollution reduction commitment and we will continue to work with organizational allies and the Administration to establish a new global treaty at the United Nations’ international climate conference in Paris in 2015.