Healing the planet: A look back at 2014 & a look forward to 2015

This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.

5 January 2015

One of the core values we share between Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United States is a deep respect for the environment.  Therefore, as we head into 2015, I thought it’d be helpful for folks to see some of what the Obama Administration has been doing to help heal the planet as well as increase resiliency in the face of the effects we’re already feeling from climate change.

Here’s a great site on WH.gov  with a comprehensive view of the efforts taken primarily in 2014 (but with some look back to previous years).  Just this year, highlights include:

  • Proposing new carbon pollution standards for existing power plants (power plants are the largest major source of emissions in the US and account for 1/3 of all domestic greenhouse gas pollution)
  • Doubling the electricity generated in the US from wind & solar
  • Further improving fuel standards (especially for heavy-duty trucks, buses and vans)
  • Encouraging more energy efficient building standards – including more than 2 million housing efficiency upgrades completed by the Dept of Energy and Housing and Urban Development.
  • Directing the federal government to buy at least 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2020
  • Signing an historic agreement with China to set aggressive emissions reductions targets and to collaborate more broadly on addressing climate change.
  • Preserving spaces: In the final weeks of 2014, right before President Obama made his historic announcements about US relations with Cuba, he also made another important announcement – he protected Bristol Bay from drilling (here’s a great page explaining why that mattered so much – but basically – it protecting endangered species, fishing jobs, and amazing salmon). That was just the latest in his efforts to protect nature – whether on land or sea!

And that doesn’t even include some of the major efforts President Obama spearheaded throughout his first 5 years in office.

As we enter 2015, I look forward to seeing what nations around the globe do to further improve efforts to fight climate change – especially as we all gear up for the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in late November/Early December.