In his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12, President Obama made it clear: We have experienced tremendous progress on climate change and clean energy – but to further action is needed.
Now that we have a solid clean energy foundation in America, we need to accelerate our transition away from dirty energy, Obama said. In doing so, he said, we’ll address climate change, but we’ll also put tens of thousands of Americans to work in clean energy and in building a 21st century transportation network.
“None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo,” Obama said. “But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve — that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”
That’s what E2 will be working on in Washington and in state capitals across the country in 2016.
Thanks to the successes of 2015, we have a great foundation on which to build.
Internationally, the year closed out with the most ambitious climate accord ever reached at the close of the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. Nearly every nation on Earth signed on to an agreement by which each participating nation volunteered carbon emissions reduction goals or other means to propel the world to maintaining a temperature increase of "well below" 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement sets emissions reductions pledges from most nations for 2030, the U.S. for instance has pledged to cut back its emissions by at least 32% (through the Clean Power Plan) by 2030. Cognizant that the agreement does not achieve the reduction goals needed to completely stymie the growth of carbon emissions, negotiators also required in the final agreement that nations would have to reevaluate their targets every five years.
Domestically, the Obama Administration finalized the Clean Power Plan, its standard setting carbon reduction targets for nearly every state to reach through the deployment of a number of different means, and heavily incentivizing use of energy efficiency and renewable technologies.
Somewhat surprisingly, Congress also helped advance clean energy in the waning weeks of 2015.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) were both given long term extensions, providing a boon to the wind energy and solar energy industries.
The PTC received a five year extension in the deal, so it would be retroactively restored for 2015 and gradually phase down, with amount of credit reduced by 20% for any facilities that begin construction in 2017 with a further 20% reduction every year through 2020. The ITC, which was set to expire at the end of 2016, was renewed for five years.
With 2016, our work begins anew.
In Washington and beyond, E2 will be working to defend the Paris agreement and the Clean Power Plan from attacks we know are coming. One way you can get engaged is by joining me and other E2 members from across the country for our E2 Washington advocacy trip scheduled for April 18-20, when we will meet with dozens of lawmakers to discuss these and other issues. Please contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested in joining us in April, and watch your email for more details to come.
In the states, meanwhile, our great regional advocates will be working to organize business voices to meet with state lawmakers and others to make sure the Clean Power Plan is implemented with a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency. We’ll be working on defending renewable portfolio standards, and advancing and strengthening smart regional policies like California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast.
We will also continue to amplify the story of how smart policies are creating clean energy jobs across America. In the spring, we plan to release the most comprehensive clean energy jobs study of its kind, and complement our national jobs release with state-specific releases throughout the Midwest and in New York. These jobs reports are tremendous advocacy tools for our members and others.
Thanks to your continued support, E2 will continue to help shape policies in Washington and in the states that will lead to an even better economy and cleaner environment tomorrow.
But as President Obama noted in his final State of the Union address, we can’t do this work alone.
“The future we want — opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids — all that is within our reach,” he said. “But it will only happen if we work together.”
Thanks for working together with E2 in 2015, in 2016 – and in the years ahead.
– Grant Carlisle is E2's Director of Advocacy.