On June 22, 2010, the National Research Council released the last of its four reports on America's Climate Choices, entitled "Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change." The report highlights several key recommendations in order to meet national needs for state-of-the-art information on
climate change, its impacts, and response options. One of these recommendations is that a coordinated system
of climate services is needed; such a system would require the
involvement of multiple agencies and regional expertise, with very
clear leadership at the highest level of government. A federally
supported and reliable system for greenhouse gas monitoring, reporting,
verification, and management is also a priority. And finally, the public wants more information on climate change, therefore, the report also recommends the creation of a
national task force on climate communication and education. For more information, see http://americasclimatechoices.org/panelinforming.shtml.
In December 2009, EPA ruled that climate change caused by
emissions of greenhouse gases threatens the public's health and the
environment. Since that time, EPA has received ten petitions challenging their
determination. On July 29, 2010, EPA announced that it has denied these petitions.
petitions to reconsider EPA's "Endangerment Finding" claimed that
climate science can't be trusted, and asserted a conspiracy that calls
into question the findings of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The EPA seriously considered these petitions, however, found no evidence to support the claims, and has denied them. For further information, see:http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/petitions.html.
On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program are coordinating the solicitation of comments by U.S. experts to inform development of an integrated set of U.S. Government comments on the report. The Global Change Research Program and Climate Change Technology Program Offices will coordinate collation of U.S. expert comments and the review of the report by panels of Federal scientists and program managers in order to develop a consolidated U.S. Government submission. Â Expert comments must be received via the internet-based application by Midnight, Eastern Daylight Time, 18 July 2010 to be considered for inclusion in the U.S. Government submission. An expert reviewer may also be asked to participate in the government review organized within his or her own country. In such a case, he/she should submit comments either as an individual or as part of the government review, but not both.
Because the report is still in draft, distribution of the materials for review will be through a password-protected website. This draft will undergo extensive revision based on comments received from many experts and governments. IPCC practice is that drafts of IPCC reports are not published until they are final. In making the document available for review by U.S. experts, we are requesting reviewers to indicate that they understand and will respect this practice. If you wish to review the draft document, please visit: http://srren.globalchange.gov. There you will find additional instructions about the review process and how to submit comments.
To receive a copy of the draft report for review, you will be asked to register with your first name, last name, institutional affiliation and email address. This draft will undergo extensive revision based on comments received from many experts and governments. IPCC practice is that drafts of IPCC reports are not published until they are final. In making the document available for review by U.S. experts, we are requesting reviewers to indicate that they understand and will respect this practice.
If you wish to review the draft document, please visit: www.globalchange.gov/srrenreview. There you will find additional instructions about the review process and how to submit comments. To receive a copy of the draft report for review, you will be asked to register with your first name, last name, institutional affiliation and email address. You will also be asked to accept a user agreement before submitting your request.
The IPCC develops a comprehensive assessment spanning all the above topics approximately every six years. In addition to these comprehensive assessments, the IPCC periodically develops Special Reports on specific topics. Preparation of Special Reports follows the same procedures as for the Assessment Reports. Governments develop and approve plans for reports, and nominate scientists and experts as lead authors and reviewers. Authors prepare the reports, which go through several stages of review, following which they are accepted by member governments at a session of the IPCC. Member governments also approve the executive summaries of the reports (known as a summary for policy makers) in detail at the time that they accept the overall report. Principles and procedures for the IPCC and its preparation of reports can be found at the following web sites (http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles.pdf; http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization_procedures.htm).
The report is structured with technology chapters - bio-energy, direct solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean energy and wind energy - which feed into overarching chapters. A system integration chapter brings different aspects of energy demand and supply together. The report also considers the policy options, outcomes and conditions for effectiveness, and how accelerated deployment could be achieved in a sustainable manner. Capacity building, technology transfer and financing in different regions are also assessed.
Tim Killeen Nominated Vice Chair for Strategic Planning
Today, Shere Abbott, associate director of environment for the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy, nominated Tom Karl, the
Department of Commerceâ€™s principal representative to the Subcommittee on
Global Change Research, to serve as the groupâ€™s next Chair. The Subcommittee includes representatives
from 13 Federal Agencies and steers the activities of the USGCRP. Tom
is currently the transitional director of the NOAA Climate Service.
Abbott also nominated Tim Killeen, Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation as Vice Chair for Strategic Planning and Research.
Tom Karlâ€™s appointment as chair of the subcommittee reinforces NOAAâ€™s long standing history of contributions to the USGCRP. NOAA is a lead Federal agency in the provision of trusted climate science and information, is a co-chair of the White House Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, and one of the lead agencies in the ongoing National Assessment process.
Tom will take on this new leadership role, while continuing to provide guidance for the development of a proposed Climate Service within NOAA. During his appointment, Scott Hausman, will serve as Acting Director of NCDC, and Sharon LeDuc will serve as Acting Deputy Director.
As director of NOAAâ€™s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., Tom has helped develop and implement internationally recognized standards for data quality. He has played a key role in reports developed by the USGCRP and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He served as Co-Chair of the USGCRPâ€™s US National Assessment and its recent Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report. Additionally, Karl was the convening lead author for the Observations Chapter for the IPCCâ€™s Third Assessment Report and was the review editor for the chapter on Observations for its Fourth Assessment Report. He has been the convening and lead author and review editor of all the major IPCC assessments since 1990.
He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and has recently completed his term as president. He is also a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and several books as editor and contributor.
He has received many awards for his work in services and scientific contributions in climate-related work including: two Presidential Rank Awards, five Gold Medals from the Department of Commerce and two Bronze Medals; the American Meteorological Society's Suomi Award; National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences; the NOAA Administrator's Award, and several others.
Tim Killeen is currently Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation and is the former Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Past President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Killeen has been the Principal Investigator for many research projects for NASA, NSF, and the U.S. Air Force. These programs include an extensive ground-based network of remote automated optical observatories, including two in Greenland, one in Michigan, one in Chile, and one in Northern Canada.
As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the National Research Council today issued three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as America's Climate Choices.
"These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond."
'Poses Significant Risks'
The compelling case that climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities is based on a strong, credible body of evidence, says Advancing the Science of Climate Change, one of the new reports. While noting that there is always more to learn and that the scientific process is never "closed," the report emphasizes that multiple lines of evidence support scientific understanding of climate change. The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.
"Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for â€” and in many cases is already affecting â€” a broad range of human and natural systems," the report concludes. It calls for a new era of climate change science where an emphasis is placed on "fundamental, use-inspired" research, which not only improves understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change but also is useful to decision makers at the local, regional, national, and international levels acting to limit and adapt to climate change. Seven cross-cutting research themes are identified to support this more comprehensive and integrative scientific enterprise.
The report recommends that a single federal entity or program be given the authority and resources to coordinate a national, multidisciplinary research effort aimed at improving both understanding and responses to climate change. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, established in 1990, could fulfill this role, but it would need to form partnerships with action-oriented programs and address weaknesses that in the past have led to research gaps, particularly in the critical area of research that supports decisions about responding to climate change. Leaders of federal climate research should also redouble efforts to deploy a comprehensive climate observing system.
Beyond 'Business as Usual'
Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require prompt and sustained efforts to promote major technological and behavioral changes, says Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change, another of the new reports. Although limiting emissions must be a global effort to be effective, strong U.S. actions to reduce emissions will help encourage other countries to do the same. In addition, the U.S. could establish itself as a leader in developing and deploying the technologies necessary to limit and adapt to climate change.
An inclusive national policy framework is needed to ensure that all levels of government, the private sector, and millions of households and individuals are contributing to shared national goals. Toward that end, the U.S. should establish a greenhouse gas emissions "budget" that sets a limit on total domestic emissions over a set period of time and provides a clear, directly measurable goal. However, the report warns, the longer the nation waits to begin reducing emissions, the harder and more expensive it will likely be to reach any given emissions target.
The report does not recommend a specific target for a domestic emissions budget, but suggests a range of emissions from 170 to 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent for the period 2012 through 2050 as a reasonable goal, a goal that is roughly in line with the range of emission reduction targets proposed recently by the Obama administration and members of Congress. Even at the higher end of this range, meeting the target will require a major departure from "business-as-usual" emission trends. The report notes that with the exception of the recent economic downtown, domestic emissions have been rising for most of the past three decades. The U.S. emitted approximately 7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2008 (the most current year for which such data were available). If emissions continue at that rate, the proposed budget range would be used up well before 2050, the report says.
A carbon-pricing system is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. Either cap-and-trade, a system of taxing emissions, or a combination of the two could provide the needed incentives. While the report does not specifically recommend a cap-and-trade system, it notes that cap-and-trade is generally more compatible with the concept of an emissions budget.
Carbon pricing alone, however, is not enough to sufficiently reduce domestic emissions, the report warns. Strategically chosen, complementary policies are necessary to assure rapid progress in key areas such as: increasing energy efficiency; accelerating the development of renewable energy sources; advancing full-scale development of new-generation nuclear power and carbon capture and storage systems; and retrofitting, retiring, or replacing existing emissions-intensive energy infrastructure. Research and development of new technologies that could help reduce emissions more cost effectively than current options also should be strongly supported.
Managing the Risks
Reducing vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change that the nation cannot, or does not, avoid is a highly desirable strategy to manage and minimize the risks, says the third report, Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. Some impacts â€“ such as rising sea levels, disappearing sea ice, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events like heavy precipitation and heat waves â€“ are already being observed across the country. The report notes that policymakers need to anticipate a range of possible climate conditions and that uncertainty about the exact timing and magnitude of impacts is not a reason to wait to act. In fact, it says boosting U.S. adaptive capacity now can be viewed as "an insurance policy against an uncertain future," while inaction could increase risks, especially if the rate of climate change is particularly large.
Although much of the response to climate change will occur at local and regional levels, a national adaptation strategy is needed to facilitate cooperation and collaboration across all lines of government and between government and other key parties, including the private sector, community organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. As part of this strategy, the federal government should provide technical and scientific resources that are lacking at the local or regional scale, incentives for local and state authorities to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.
Adapting to climate change will be an ongoing, iterative process, the report says, and will involve decision makers at every scale of government and all parts of society. A first step is to identify vulnerabilities to climate change impacts and begin to examine adaptation options that will improve resilience. To build the scientific knowledge base and provide a basis for increasingly effective action in the future, adaptation efforts should be monitored and analyzed to judge successes, problems, and unintended consequences. The report also calls for research to develop new adaptation options and a better understanding of vulnerabilities and impacts on smaller spatial scales.
Adaptation to climate change should not be seen as an alternative to attempts to limit it, the report emphasizes. Rather, the two approaches should be seen as partners, given that society's ability to cope with the impacts of climate change decreases as the severity of climate change increases. At moderate rates and levels of climate change, adaptation can be effective, but at severe rates, adapting to disturbances caused by climate change may not be possible, the report says.
Flexible and Adjustable
The new reports stress that national climate change research, efforts to limit emissions, and adaptation strategies should be designed to be flexible and responsive to new information and conditions in the coming decades. Because knowledge about future climate change and possible impacts will evolve, policies and programs should continually monitor and adjust to progress and consequences of actions.
America's Climate Choices also includes two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change will examine how to best provide decision makers information on climate change, and an overarching report will build on each of the previous reports and other work to offer a scientific framework for shaping the policy choices underlying the nation's efforts to confront climate change.
The project was requested by Congress and is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, visit http://americasclimatechoices.org. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter. Committee and panel members, who serve pro bono, are chosen by for each study based on their expertise and experience and must satisfy the Research Council's conflict-of-interest standards. The resulting consensus reports undergo external peer review before completion. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org/studycommitteprocess.pdf.