July 29th, 2014 was a big day for climate change at the White House. As EPA’s public hearings continued for their plan to regulate emissions from existing power plants, the administration made the following announcements:
- Release of new report written by the White House Council of Economic Advisers that warns of the risks of not acting on climate. Take away is that the cost of doing nothing is expensive, and increases 40 percent for every decade that policymakers delay in taking significant action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The figure was calculated through the review of 16 studies with costs over time driven by the increased damage from climate change and the increase in costs from reducing emissions more sharply if policy is implemented later, rather than sooner, to achieve the same climate target.
- Revealing of executive actions to reduce methane emissions. White House Director of Energy and Climate Change, Dan Utech, told reporters that new executive actions will address methane emissions from natural gas pipelines including a change in framework of voluntary programs to incentivize reductions, partnership with natural gas producers, a $30 million Department of Energy program supporting technology to decrease methane leaks, and a series of white papers from the Environmental Protection Agency to help identify “potentially significant” sources of methane beyond pipeline leaks.
- Collaboration to assist the agricultural sector. Multi-stakeholder approach between government and food, agriculture, and technology businesses will help provide the tools to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The collaboration means access to technologies, big data, and information sharing on factors such as water availability, to timing of planting and harvest, to storage practices. Overall goal is to increase resilience of the U.S. and global food system and reduce the contributions of food production to climate change.
Happy day for climate change action in the U.S. Illustrating the economic costs of delayed climate policy, tackling methane from fracking (one of environmentalist’s biggest concerns), and investing in food security are three very different, but key areas to focus efforts. Announcements signal that the administration is serious about climate change and we hope to see more.