Using Executive Orders, the next President of the United States need not wait for Congress to act on climate change
Next President Will Have Ample Authority to Act on Climate Change
With the science community calling for urgent action on global climate change, the next President of the United States need not wait for Congress. According to a study commissioned by the Presidential Climate Action Project, the chief executive has substantial authority to act immediately.
"The Boundaries of Executive Authority: Using Executive Orders to Implement Federal Climate Change Policy" reviews presidential actions from 1937 to the present. The authors, including Alaine Ginocchio and Kevin Doran of the Center for Energy & Environmental Security at the University of Colorado School of Law, found "significant authority, without further action by Congress, for the President to... implement various aspects of climate change policy."
The report analyzes the potential for the president to use executive orders, presidential directives, executive agreements, the budget process and the bully pulpit to jump-start federal leadership on climate change with authority already granted by Congress, the Constitution and the Courts.
While action implemented under executive authority can be revoked by a succeeding president, the authors noted that "a proactive administration with an understanding of the serious implications of climate change can make a significant impact immediately upon taking office."
Measures the president could implement under executive authority
-- A cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions;
-- Limits on greenhouse gas emissions for the nation's largest energy consumer, the federal government;
-- Specific targets for federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions;
-- A program to use the federal procurement system to create a vast new market for climate-friendly goods and services;
-- Agreements with other nations to further international collaboration on climate action, and;
-- New national goals and timetables for improving energy efficiency, increasing the use of renewable energy resources, reducing petroleum consumption and implementing other climate-critical actions.
The full study can be found at: www.climateactionproject.com
The Presidential Climate Action Project is a nonpartisan initiative of the Wirth Chair at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. The project, which is advised by a coalition of climate scientists and policy experts, released a preliminary action plan last December proposing more than 300 presidential actions that could be initiated within 100 days of taking office.