“There is no Plan B”: Vision is as important as Ambition to tackle climate change

Have you seen President Obama’s speech announcing the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan?

The Clean Power Plan is a key element of the US’s contribution to climate action and the debate on the global agreement taking shape ahead of COP21 in Paris this December. Beyond the content of the Plan itself, the rhetoric of Obama’s launch speech and the way he communicated the vision and role for his country is important for all leaders as we prepare for COP21.

Here is a leader who is rallying his country to support ambitious actions to tackle climate change. He draws on science to establish the need for, and impact of action and inaction. He draws on history to dispel fear tactics from lobby groups who resist change. He draws on faith to underpin the moral obligation to act, and he promotes the power and ingenuity of his people, of his country, to seize the opportunity that exists in taking action on a critical global issue. He is not divisive, nor partisan – but speaks to a higher purpose for policy, a higher purpose for his Ministries, and a higher purpose for his country, businesses and citizens in the world.

As Obama says: “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last with the chance to do something about it … we only have one planet … there is no plan B”.

All countries need to have a greater vision of what they can contribute and can gain from taking ambitious action to climate change. People need more ambition and inspiration from their government and business leaders. People all over the world are just as capable, just as innovative and just as motivated as Americans, but how often do we hear that we are going to lead the world on climate change? An overwhelming majority of people are ready to lead – is your government or business with us?

If so, we want to know about it. The GBPN is working with a coalition of organizations including the UNEP and French Government to organize a Buildings Action Day at the COP21 on December 3rd 2015. In order to showcase climate actions in the building sector, we are collecting and documenting climate commitments by government and the private sector involving action in the building sector. If you would like to have the commitments of your jurisdiction or organization included in the event please contact us at:

Background information:
The content of the Clean Power Plan will establish standards to limit CO2 emissions from power plants and provide flexibility for States to develop their own plan for reducing emissions. The plan will reduce emissions by 32% by 2030 – removing 877Mt CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and is projected to save about $327billion annually and create about 1.3 million new jobs.

The new standard is structured around three “building blocks”: heat-rate improvements at coal-fired power plants, increased use of combined-cycle natural gas generation to displace coal power and deployment of zero-carbon energy.

Early drafts of the rule included an energy efficiency building block. Although this was not included in the final version, many EE advocates agree that the Clean Power Plan will encourage more investment in energy efficiency because it is a very cost-effective compliance option. By extension this is likely to be good news for building sector stakeholders looking to mainstream building energy policy and projects.

You can find more information here.

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