Obama to unveil climate change action plan Tuesday — boon for cleantech?


President Obama plans to address the nation on how America will tackle climate change during a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday (1:30PM EST). In a video the White House published over the weekend (embedded below), Obama said the speech this week would lay out his vision for where he believes America needs to go, which includes: “a national plan to reduce carbon pollution,” a way to “prepare our country for the impacts of climate change,” and a strategy for leading global efforts to fight climate change.

Will the speech — one of the first following his State of the Union Address where he will talk about climate change — act as a boost for the entrepreneurs and investors who have been building the next generation of clean technologies? The reality is that the cleantech sector, which includes technologies from clean power generation to energy efficiency software to electric vehicle tech, has had a difficult past few years.

Investors in Silicon Valley have been shying away from the sector, while the industry has witnessed some major flameouts. I’ve personally seen very few early-stage cleantech startups emerge in 2013 and have seen a lot of maturing cleantech companies struggle to scale.

Obama notes in his video address his desire to grow an American clean energy economy, as well as create the next generation of biofuels, and “new sources of energy.” He calls for businesses, scientists, engineers and farmers to help lead this clean energy economy.

The big question is what concrete plans will Obama actually announce? The Washington Post reports that Obama intends to discuss his intention to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, increase appliance efficiency standards and promote renewable energy development on public lands.

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions would likely lead to the closing or retrofitting of aging coal plants, as well as older natural gas plants, which provide most of the electricity in the U.S. That move would no doubt be controversial as it could raise electricity prices in coal states and reduce fossil fuel-related jobs.

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