As the Third National Climate Assessment makes clear, climate change is already affecting communities in every region of the country as well as key sectors of the economy. Recent events like Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, flooding throughout the Midwest, and severe drought in the West have highlighted the vulnerability of many communities to the impacts of climate change. In 2012 alone, the cost of weather disasters exceeded $110 billion in the United States, and climate change will only increase the frequency and intensity of these events. That is why, even as efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continue, communities must prepare for the impacts of climate change that can no longer be avoided.
At state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, leaders are making bold decisions on ways to invest in more resilient infrastructure, revise land use, update building codes, and adjust natural resource management and other practices to improve the resilience of their communities to climate impacts. The Federal Government has a critical role to play in supporting these efforts by ensuring that Federal policies and programs incorporate climate change, incentivize and remove barriers to community resilience, and provide the information and assistance communities need to understand and prepare for climate risks. The Federal Government also has a responsibility to protect its own investments, such as military installations and space launch facilities, and ensure that the lands and resources it holds in the public trust are managed for a changing climate.
In order to better support communities across the country as they prepare for the impacts of climate change, the Task Force proposes that the Administration advance actions across the Federal Government that align with the following overarching principles:
- Require consideration of climate-related risks and vulnerabilities in the design, revision, and implementation of all Federal policies, practices, investments, regulations, and other programs.
- Maximize opportunities to take actions that have dual-benefits of increasing community resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Strengthen coordination and partnerships among Federal agencies, and across Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions as well as economic sectors.
- Provide actionable data and information on climate change impacts and related tools and assistance to support decision-making at all levels.
- Consult and cooperate with Tribes and indigenous communities on all aspects of Federal climate preparedness and resilience efforts, and encourage states and local communities to do the same.
The diverse challenges posed by climate change will require a wide range of actions to ensure that communities across the country, large and small, are prepared. With coordination, thoughtful planning, and decisive action, Federal, State, and local governments, Tribes, and territories can ensure a safe and prosperous future.
Source: The White House
Publication Date: November 2014