Bioneers Co-CEO and Co-Founder Kenny Ausubel is honored to join the Presidential Action Project (PCAP) Advisory Council.
The Presidential Climate Action Project was conceived by Bioneers Board member David Orr at a conference of sustainable development leaders in 2007. David's idea was to create an action plan for the 44th President to energetically address global warming during the first 100 days of his Administration. In the months and years that followed, PCAP grew into a four-year, $4 million policy initiative that the co-chairman of President-elect Obama's transition team called the "gold standard" of policy input to the new Administration.
Since 2007, PCAP has produced four detailed plans on how federal policies and programs could be modified or created to address global warming. Although these plans have included ideas for legislation, the principal focus has been on steps a President can take under existing executive authorities. PCAP's first major task was to commission a comprehensive legal analysis of the President's powers by the University of Colorado School of Law, along with a searchable database of relevant executive orders going back to the 1930s. That analysis has provided the foundation of PCAP's recommendations.
From its inception, PCAP has been a bipartisan project and it remains so today. During the 2008 presidential campaign, PCAP provided white papers and briefings to the policy staff of all the candidates in the field, including the Obama and McCain campaigns.
The first PCAP action plan was published in December 2007 before the 2008 primary season began. Its purpose was to encourage the candidates to address global warming by demonstrating the many things the next President could do to confront the issue.
The second report was published in 2008, outlining more specific ideals for the next president, including steps he could take as president-elect. The third report was published in August 2010 following the failure of Congress to pass a cap-and-trade bill. The fourth report came out in January 2011 at the midpoint of President Obama's first term. It included an inventory of what the Obama Administration had done about climate change to that point. A crosscheck showed a close correlation between PCAP's recommendations and many of the Administration's actions to that point.
In all, PCAP has produced more than 200 proposals for changes in federal policies and programs to mitigate climate change or to adapt to its impacts. The project has engaged more than 300 experts on topics ranging from fresh water resources, oceans, energy, national security, agriculture, transportation and international relations, to state and local leadership and job creation. PCAP has written and delivered to the White House a draft presidential address on the State of the Climate and the texts for several executive orders.
PCAP was suspended after its January 2011 report. Now, it has been revived with a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to once again encourage the candidates to address global warming with specific ideas on what they would do once in office. Among other things, PCAP has shown repeatedly that while action by Congress is important, a President is far from powerless to lead the nation on climate mitigation and adaptation, with or without new legislation.
In October, PCAP will issue its fifth report, offering 10 steps the 45th President can take. It will note that the politics of climate change are rapidly changing today, with a majority of the American people now recognizing that it is real, already underway and affecting the United States, with a growing number of conservatives recognizing it is a problem that leaders at all level of society must address.