Partnerships Show Huge Potential to Address Climate Change

Last Friday, EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs (OAP) released its annual report on its climate partnership programs. The report is notable not just because some of these voluntary programs started more than 20 years ago, but also because it shows just how much partnerships can accomplish.


In 2012, more than 21,000 organizations and millions of Americans partnered with EPA through OAP’s climate partnerships and prevented more than 365 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the annual electricity use of over 50 million homes. That’s one million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per day.

The climate protection programs covered in the report include some you probably have heard of, like ENERGY STAR, and others that you might not have. For example, the GreenChill partnership works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change. And the Green Power Partnership helps promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and reductions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses.

The programs run the gamut – appealing as much to families looking for an ENERGY STAR home as they do to major corporations focused on the bottom line. Similarly, our climate protection partners span the economy – from elementary schools to the U.S. Air Force. But all our partners have one thing in common – they all work with EPA to tackle the challenge of climate change while improving our health, saving money, and strengthening the economy.

You’ll see what I mean by taking a look at the full report.

The President’s Climate Action Plan called on the federal government to work with all stakeholders to take action in three major ways: cut the harmful carbon pollution that fuels climate change, help our cities and towns build resilience to its impacts, and lead international efforts to combat and prepare for the changing climate. The plan directs federal agencies to work together over the next 20 years to cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses and to leverage new opportunities to reduce pollution from highly potent greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons and methane.

The involvement and commitment of individuals, communities, organizations and businesses are critical to address the challenges of climate change. As the President made clear in his State of the Union address last week — climate change is not a distant threat; it is happening now, and we owe it to our children to take steps now. Businesses and individuals all across the country understand the urgency for action. That’s what these programs are here to provide – a way to take meaningful and valuable steps that reduce our impacts on the climate today and help build the foundation for progress in the future.

Janet McCabe is the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, having previously served as OAR’s Principal Deputy to the Assistant Administrator. Prior to joining EPA in November 2009, McCabe was Executive Director of Improving Kids’ Environment, Inc., a children’s environmental health advocacy organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana and was an adjunct faculty member at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health.  Ms. McCabe grew up in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Harvard College in 1980 and Harvard Law School in 1983.

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