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Report identifies Obama’s climate inaction by documenting steps he could take

Posted Nov. 16, 2015 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An analysis by Friends of the Earth highlights how President Obama has fallen short on his climate legacy by suggesting nine executive actions he can take before leaving office. Two weeks before the climate negotiations begin in Paris, the report, Unfinished Business: Ways President Obama Can Move the United States Closer to its Fair Share of Climate Action, offers specific recommendations for a stronger U.S. commitment on climate change.

“President Obama’s international climate commitment is a mere 20 percent of what justice and historic responsibility demand from the United States,” said report author and Friends of the Earth International Policy Analyst Kate DeAngelis. “President Obama currently has the tools to do much more to address climate disruption, without any action from Congress. In order for the U.S. to do its fair share President Obama must acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis and stop holding back.”

While this list is by no means exhaustive, this report recommends that President Obama take the following actions:

  1. Use section 115 of the Clean Air Act to force economy-wide GHG reductions from states.
  2. Put forward a broad rule to reduce aviation GHG emissions by forcing technological innovations, including existing aircraft and covering the entire aircraft.
  3. Finalize a methane rule for the oil and gas sector that covers existing and abandoned sources and improves detection of leaks.
  4. Limit methane from flaring and venting on public and tribal lands by ensuring accurate accounting with meters and ending royalty-free flaring.
  5. Prohibit the export of liquefied natural gas, as the Department of Commerce has done with crude oil.
  6. Address black carbon emissions through an endangerment finding under the Clean Air Act and using the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
  7. Reduce hydrofluorocarbon emissions from air conditioners, refrigerators and other end uses by removing high-GWP HFCs from the marketplace and increasing HFC reclamation and recycling.
  8. Prohibit all new leases for fossil fuel exploration and development on public lands and waters.
  9. Incorporate the true social cost of carbon in all government decisions.

Global scientific consensus dictates that the world must keep the majority of its remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground to have a good chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate disruption. As the world’s largest historical emitter and one of the world’s wealthiest countries, the United States must shoulder the greatest share of the burden for making emission reductions. According to the climate fair shares calculator, the United States must reduce emissions by at least 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2025, and provide $635 billion in climate finance to pay its fair share.

“President Obama has slightly over one year left in office. If he wants to cement his legacy as a true climate champion, he must make significant progress to greatly reduce the country’s carbon pollution,” said DeAngelis.

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Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (703) 622-9093, kcolwell@foe.org

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