The 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change began in Durban, South Africa on November 28. I'm writing from the U.S. Center at COP-17, where a whole-of-government collaboration has culminated in two weeks of exciting programs that showcase some of the best actions the United States has implemented in climate science and technology. Many programs highlight the efforts we are taking at home to combat climate change.
On December 6, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) hosted an event highlighting the bold advances the United States made in 2011 in vehicle fuel efficiency standards, which will roughly double fuel efficiency by 2025. This past July, President Obama announced the Administration's program to increase fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States. Senior U.S. officials from the White House, Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency were on hand at the U.S. Center to discuss the development of the standards, their impact on U.S. emissions, and their potential to promote economic growth and job creation.
According to Gary Guzy, Deputy Director and General Counsel at CEQ, the standards will reduce carbon dioxide pollution by over 6 billion metric tons -- equivalent to the emissions from the United States last year. The standards will protect the environment and public health by cutting air pollutants such as air toxics, smog, and soot.
David Foster, the Executive Director of Blue Green Alliance, a national strategic partnership between labor unions and environmental organizations, said that fuel efficiency standards are a major building block of how we solve climate change. He believes these standards illustrate how good jobs and a clean environment go hand-in-hand.
The fuel efficiency standards demonstrate how different elements of U.S. society combined efforts in this ambitious program, ranging from government agencies, consumer groups, to the labor, environmental and manufacturing communities. "These elements showcase the overall strategy of clean energy transformation in the U.S.," said Guzy, who is hopeful the U.S. example will be a valuable model for other nations.
For more information on this U.S. initiative, visit www.whitehouse.gov/energy. Also check out the QR Code on the site, which allows users of smartphones to access online information comparing various models on fuel economy and other environmental and energy factors.