Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Within the last year, the Obama administration has taken two significant and dramatic steps addressing the challenges of climate change and demonstrating a renewed leadership role for the US. First, as a signatory to the Paris climate agreements, the US has stepped forward to participate in that global effort after years of recalcitrance. The US, for example, signed the Rio Declaration in 1992 but five years later would not ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Now, though, the US has reversed course and has reentered the international climate conversation.

The second significant climate initiative came on the domestic front as the Obama administration issued its Clean Power Plan (CPP), which promises to transform US energy policy and facilitate the ongoing transition to a clean power economy. Indeed, President Obama has called the CPP “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.” His administration has now committed the federal government to engaging this global problem.

A new narrative is developing that is attentive to emerging energy technologies, cognizant of environmental consequences of the fuel cycle, and is committed to developing a wider range of energy resources, markets, and participants on both the supply and demand sides of the meter. The CPP, then, promises to be major chapter in that new narrative.