The impacts of dangerous climate change are a daily reality that we simply cannot ignore. Just ask people living in Texas, who have had to face extreme weather rainfall events and record flooding, or Californians who have had to deal with a crippling drought, or New Yorkers who suffered through Superstorm Sandy.
Fortunately, the Obama Administration has taken serious steps to address this growing crisis by reducing dangerous carbon pollution. The U.S. has committed to cutting our carbon pollution by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. This target level, known as an “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC), is an achievable goal because the President’s Climate Action Plan contains the tools necessary to get the job done. We have a decades-long record of success of our landmark environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act which has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court.
The Obama Administration has already taken significant steps toward reaching this target, including establishing new fuel economy and carbon standards for cars and heavy duty trucks, proposing to cut carbon pollution 30 percent from our power sector, and reducing carbon pollution from federal operations by 40 percent in 2025.
The U.S. has always been a leader among other nations, and we are leading the way to address dangerous climate change. We know that we must cut harmful air pollution to protect the health and welfare of the American people, and our resolve has brought other countries to the table to make their own domestic commitments to reduce carbon pollution.
Climate change is a global problem, and we are seeing progress on the international level. Two weeks ago, the G7 agreed to work with all countries to reduce carbon emissions by up to 70 percent by 2050.
Action by the Obama Administration prompted China to make its first-ever commitment to reduce carbon pollution --and already, coal use is down by 8 percent in China this year.
The E.U. has also pledged to reduce carbon pollution significantly, and developing countries, such as Mexico and South Korea, have come forward with their first ever commitments to control their carbon pollution. Already, countries covering over 60 percent of global carbon emissions have agreed to take action to cut carbon pollution, and other countries will soon join this effort before heading to Paris later this year.
Taking action globally to address the threat of climate change will not only help us avoid the worst impacts, but it will provide enormous health and economic benefits to the U.S. A recent peer-reviewed study by the EPA analyzes in detail the benefits of global action on climate change. According to this study, by the end of the century there will be:
• 57,000 fewer death per year from poor air quality, with economic benefits valued at $930 billion;
• 12,000 fewer deaths per year from extreme heat and temperature changes;
• $180 billion per year in avoided damages from water shortages;
• $3 billion per year avoided damages from poor water quality;
• $11 billion per year avoided losses in our agricultural sector;
• 40-59 percent fewer severe and extreme droughts; and
• Almost 8 million fewer acres burned each year from wildfires.
While taking action to reduce our carbon pollution avoids these significant impacts in the future, it is also good for our economy today. A recent report by the New Climate Institute found that the policies in the U.S. INDC will result in the creation of 470,000 additional green jobs, compared to the status quo.
We have seen this type of success in my home state of California. California is on a path to cut its carbon pollution by 80 percent by 2050, as required under our greenhouse gas emissions law, A.B. 32. During the first year and half of my state’s cap and trade program, California added 491,000 jobs -- a growth of almost 3.3 percent, which outpaces the national growth rate of 2.5 percent.
I welcome the witnesses today and look forward to a discussion on how the Obama Administration’s actions to reduce dangerous carbon pollution are leading the world to address the climate crisis.