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US announces Climate Action Plan

By Bettina Tratz-Ryan | June 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

US announces Climate Action Plan

The US has announced a comprehensive Climate Action Plan that includes the reduction of green house gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by the end of 2020. It also introduces limits on emissions generated by newly build and existing power plants, which contribute to 40 percent to the US carbon footprint. The Action Plan details also renewable energy projects especially for federal housing and military installations, as well as supporting the investments into green technologies by providing federal loan guarantees. One intention of the plan is really clear, the provisions are calling for a joint approach between stakeholders of EPA, state, city, industry, tribal authorities and communities. Only if there is common ground in the methodology of how to develop policies and measurements, the execution will be possible. Technology will play a major role in identifying, monitoring and reporting resource inefficiencies and potential for environmental management, but those need to be embedded in standardize interfaces and tools. Bringing all stakeholders together on one consensus table will be an important step towards building a common sustainability and climate pact.

There are differnet initiatives with concrete outcomes that have been established in the US  already. The Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition is a group of 33 large corporations in the US, including Intel, Nike, Unilever and Symantec, who push for CO2 emission and sustainability standards.  In addition, cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC,  Austin and Philadelphia have started to impose an energy reporting mandate on building owners with real estate footprint of more than 20,000 sqft. Those cities already use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Portfolio Manager which provides a standardized methodology to report energy performance and consumption data. Those can be best demonstration projects for the President’s Better Building Challenge.

New York City is amongst the most active advocates on developing a sustainable and resilient city, especially in the rebuild of damage of Hurricane Sandy. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities-Centennial Challenge is an example how foundations and cities work together to fill the void of a national policy to support a sustainable and comprehensive urban development taking climate and environmental challenges into consideration.

While the discussion in the US on the impact of the Climate Action Plan faces the challenge of being derailed by stakeholder driven controversy, European policy making on broad execution of the Horizon 20-20-20 goals are taking shape. During this week’s Sustainable Energy Week, pilot and demonstration projects in cities showcase together with researchers and citizen groups the design, implementation and monitoring of energy and carbon footprinting in buildings, districts and cities. It extends beyond energy consumption into renewable energy generation mandated by the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010 to include near zero energy.   And while the US industry debates the cost of the new Climate guidelines on the industry, in Europe the discussion on energy efficiency alone is expected to bring new jobs, innovation potential and IP on new clean tech as well as new thoughtleadership models  for ecosystems in energy balancing and urban mobility.  The US Climate Action Plan has the ability to take the best practice from the EU policy perspective and can focus on what has worked, without funding projects that face little chance of being replicable for the industry or cities in the future.  It also provides an entry point to develop corporate excellence for US industry and keep its industry competitive and compliant. As mandates such as the EU Energy Directive ratified in 2012 will also impose energy audits for US organizations established in Europe, US companies can those compliant systems also in their domestic organizations to realize resource efficiency potential.   The Climate Action Plan will make US enterprises and the industry ready for global climate and sustainability playing fields.

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