Sunday, March 28, 2010

The White House takes on climate change adaptation

Dipka Bhambhani on Cleanskies: The White House is planning to focus on climate change adaptation over mitigation and a special administration task force plans to send President Obama a list of recommendations that will lead to a national strategy on adaptation. "Our next step is to deliver a set of recommendations to the president in October 2010," Maria Blair, deputy associate director for climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality told the Georgetown Law Center and the Georgetown Climate Center Friday.

"In some cases those will be very specific near term recommendations. In other cases they will be recommendations on the approaches or processes by which a national strategy does get developed." Blair said the administration believes climate change mitigation is "critical," and the President is committed to greenhouse gas mitigation. But, the administration "is recognizing there are other things we have to do," she said. "We have to prioritize adaptation."

Last week, a special task force comprised of members of The White House Council, the Office of Science and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a progress report that outlines major gaps in the current approach and a path going forward.

The report says adaptation and building resilience are critical issues, and the federal government has a leading role. The government is just starting to identify that role. Blair says the report "really is laying groundwork by which we catalyze much broader action across the federal government and between the federal government and everyone else who's going to need to do a lot of this adaptation." "So it's a starting point," she said.

The report also showed gaps in the national strategy to deal with adaptation. Among them, a lack of a unified strategic vision and approach to climate change adaptation, Blair said.… In its report, the task force also outlines a set of key elements to a national adaptation strategy. Blair said good science behind climate change adaptation is essential. "Science needs to be much more integrated in a much better way in the decisions that we make and the policies that we sign," she said….

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