Anniversary of Action

Two years into the climate action plan, the president is on his way to leaving an environmental legacy.

Two Years Into The Climate Action Plan, The President Is On His Way To Leaving An Environmental Legacy

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan – an ambitious blueprint that aims to blunt the impacts of a changing climate. The plan hopes to slow the effects of climate change by cutting pollution, investing in clean energy, preparing the country for increased extreme weather, and leading the international conversation on environmental action. Since the announcement of the plan, the administration has taken bold steps to achieve these goals, including proposing a first-of-its kind climate rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants – the largest single source of emissions in our country.

In conjunction with the anniversary, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new report this week that found that acting on climate is not only a moral imperative, but also presents an economic opportunity for our country. Here are some of the benefits we could see by the end of the century from limiting global carbon pollution:

  • $110 billion: Avoided damages from lost labor due to extreme heat
  • $7.4 billion: Avoided costs for road maintenance and repairs to adapt to climate change
  • $3.1 billion: Avoided expenses from sea-level rise and coastal storm surge
  • 7.9 million: Fewer acres of land lost to wildfires

Even more importantly, limiting carbon pollution would prevent 57,000 deaths due to poor air quality. Before a group of health leaders earlier this week, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy emphasized that we are no longer debating the science behind climate change, but rather trying to understand the “sobering truth” of a “serious, immediate and global threat to human health.” In conjunction with the anniversary of the plan, the White House also launched a series of initiatives that aim to limit the effect climate change will have on public health.

While the administration continues to implement new steps in the Climate Action Plan, Republicans in the House of Representatives are using this week’s anniversary to undermine progress. This afternoon, the House voted on a bill that could block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan and the chamber is scheduled to vote on another piece of legislation later this week. These votes aren’t surprising considering 53 percent of House Republicans still deny or question the science.

BOTTOM LINE: Surgeon General Murthy said it best, “These questions have been settled by science.” And despite congressional conservatives’ unwillingness to face the facts, on the anniversary of the Climate Action Plan, we must recognize that we have both a moral and economic imperative to act on climate.

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