Friday, March 19, 2010

White House releases Climate Change Adaptation Interim Report

Regan Nelson at the NRDC: … President Obama’s Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force is making steady progress to deal with the impacts of climate change with the release of their interim report. Comprised of over 20 federal agencies, the Task Force has been charged with delivering federal recommendations on how the U.S. should adapt to climate change impacts, both domestically and internationally. The final report is due to the President by October 2010, and the interim report published today reports on the Task Force’s progress to date.

The report begins with a simple acknowledgement: “The impacts of climate change already are being felt across the United States and the entire world…[i]t is therefore imperative to take action now to adapt to a changing climate.”

…Overall, the interim report does a good job with problem identification: “Climate change impacts are pervasive, wide-ranging and affect the core systems of our society: transportation, ecosystems, agriculture, business, infrastructure, water, and energy, among others.”

…In its initial analysis, the interim report finds “significant gaps in the U.S. government’s approach to climate change adaptation”, including lack of a unified strategic vision and approach, lack of research programs and relevant climate change and impact information, and a poor understanding of how to address adaptation challenges at different levels of government, and among different stakeholders. To address these gaps, the report proposes a national strategy guided by six key principles or elements:

1. Focus on integrating science into decision-making, translating new research into formats that are useful for planners and managers.
2. Build awareness and engage relevant stakeholders in developing adaptation approaches, and build capacity within agencies by providing training and resources.
3. Establish a formal approach for coordinating and collaborating on adaptation approaches across agencies and with stakeholders.
4. Prioritize approaches and areas that will most benefit from a coordinated government response.
5. Develop a consistent framework to guide how agencies respond to and implement climate change adaptation activities, and provide common tools and information.
6. Commit to continued evaluation in order to benefit from lessons learned, and incorporate these lessons into the principles above….

A painting in the White House by Michele Felice Cornè, "The Landing of the Pilgrims" (1803-1807)

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