What Is Obama's Climate Legacy?

With President Elect Trump's inauguration a little over two weeks away, environmentalists are reflecting on President Obama's environmental legacy. There is no doubt that the President wasn't as green as some would have hoped when he first entered office, but the policies of the Obama Administration have come a long way. The International Business Times put together a list of ten times the President worked hard to protect the environment. From the Clean Power Plan to his incredible climate-related speeches, to the Arctic Drilling Ban, it's all here. So, take a short break from lamenting Donald Trump's disastrous picks for EPA and the Energy Department and reflect on the President's legacy. 

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1. Signing the US up to the Paris Agreement
Obama threw his weight behind the Paris Agreement, the historic global pact to limit carbon dioxide emissions reached at the COP 21 meeting in Paris in December 2015. The agreement is the most ambitious international effort to tackle anthropogenic climate change in history.
This commitment has been threatened by President-elect Donald Trump, who said on the campaign trail that he would pull the US out of the agreement.
US secretary of state John Kerry said after Trump's election in November 2016 that the Obama administration would do everything possible to secure the agreement before Trump assumes office in January 2017.
2. Designating the most national monuments since Roosevelt
Obama has designated about 550 million acres of rural America to be national monuments under the Antiquities Act. Most recently, those included Bears Ears in Utah and Golde Butte in Nevada. Obama said that both sites were at risk from looting and required further protection.
The site in Utah has special significance for Native Americans in the area, as the land is considered sacred.
3. Making one National Monument the biggest in the world
One of the national monuments Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to make it the largest in the world. Researchers at the monument named a rare fish they discovered there after Obama to acknowledge the contribution to conservation.
4. Designating millions of acres wilderness
In addition to all the national monuments, in 2009 Obama signed in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, to protect more than 1,000 miles of rivers and millions of acres of land as wilderness.
"This bipartisan bill has been many years in the making, and is one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades," said a White House statement.
5. Banning oil-drilling in the Arctic
Obama announced in December 2016 that vast areas of the Arctic will be protected from oil and gas drilling. The ban also stretched from parts of the US coast in the Atlantic.
"These actions, and Canada's parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth," Obama said in a statement at the time.
6. Introducing the Clean Power Plan
Obama enacted an ambitious set of regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants in August 2015. The Clean Power Plan is intended to go a long way in helping the US meet its carbon reduction targets that it would need to aim for under the Paris Agreement.
However, once again Trump has made it clear he will do everything he can to scrap the plan, which was brought in by executive order and legally will be a relatively easy environmental target.
7. Allocating $90 billion in green energy subsidies
In 2009 Obama announced more than $90bn to support the growth of the green energy industry. Tens of billions were invested in renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar panels, and funds were also provided for improving insulation in low-income housing.
8. Classifying carbon dioxide a pollutant
In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency reclassified carbon dioxide as a pollutant. This development acknowledged that carbon emissions are a risk to human health and should be regulated by the agency.
While it wasn't scientifically controversial to call high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere a hazard, it aggravated those arguing against tougher environmental regulations.
9. Drawing the world's attention to the Arctic
In addition to recently banning oil and gas drilling, Obama has more generally drawn attention to the changes that the Arctic is undergoing due to climate change, such as melting permafrost, which is threatening Arctic livelihoods.
"The Arctic is the leading edge of climate change – our leading indicator of what the entire planet faces. Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average. Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the United States," he told a conference in Anchorage, Alaska, in August 2015. "The impacts here are very real."
10. Making some awesome speeches
Time and again, Obama has been outspoken about the dangers of climate change and the urgent need to tackle it.
"We cannot condemn our children, and their children, to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair. Not when we have the means – the technological innovation and the scientific imagination – to begin the work of repairing it right now," he said at the 2014 UN Climate Change Summit.