Barack Obama is the first climate president

My how far we’ve come in less than eight years. We have seen happen what those of us in the climate and energy fields knew could happen. The US has become a world leader on climate change, dramatically increased our production of clean and renewable fuels, reduced our emissions of greenhouse gases, signed major international agreements to continue progress into the future, and have done so without cost increases or power disruptions that the denial community proclaimed would occur.

As we in the United States get ready to elect a new president, it is helpful to think about the impact a president can have. Particularly since we transitioned from the worst climate president ever (Bush) to the best (Obama). I am going to detail what I think are Obama’s signature accomplishments.

In my mind, the most important part of President Obama’s legacy on climate is that he changed the conversation. He showed that not only should the US play a role in reducing emissions, but we can do just that. He showed that this problem isn’t too big to solve. In fact, most of the solutions are subtle enough that we don’t even notice them. He showed that we can change our future for the better.

With respect to specific actions, the Clean Power Plan is one of his biggest accomplishments. By working with the EPA, he created the first ever carbon pollution standards for the largest source of pollution – power plants. He did this in the midst of a do-nothing congress that fought him every step of the way.

Under his presidency, we made huge investments in clean energy, which are paying off already. Jump starts to the wind and solar industry have led to enormous cost decreases – dirty energy isn’t cheaper anymore. It is really astonishing – wind power has tripled and solar power has increased by 30 times since he took office. 

Under his presidency, we improved standards for fuel economy of our vehicles, which not only reduces pollution but also saves money. Furthermore, Obama set targets to reduce the federal government’s emissions by nearly 20% by 2025. He has worked to reduce other types of greenhouse gases such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons, not only within the US but through international agreements.

And those aren’t the only international efforts. Obama made a joint plan with China that is almost unbelievably ambitious. It will reduce our emissions by approximately 27% by 2025 and puts major limits on Chinese emissions as well. He also forged an agreement with India to help low-income countries transition to modern economies that are not as polluting as current developed nations.

There are many more items which would be too numerous to mention but I wanted to know how his presidency is viewed within Washington DC. I mean, among climate scientists, he is the president we’ve been waiting for, but what do legislators think? I asked representative Betty McCollum from Minnesota for her view. Ms. McCollum has a long history of focusing on the environment in general and climate change in particular – long before it was popular. She told me:

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Posted by John Abraham on Wednesday, 2 November, 2016

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