Across the United States and the world, climate change is already affecting communities, livelihoods, and the environment. We must understand and adapt to a changing climate, including more frequent extreme weather events such as heat waves, drought and floods, and continued sea level rise. Taking action now to manage climate risks can be viewed as an insurance policy for the Nation's future health and economic prosperity. The Federal Government will work in partnership with states and local communities to help make our nation more resilient and prepared to address the challenges and opportunities that will arise from a changing climate.
By considering how climate change may affect people, businesses, and communities, as well as its own services, operations, and assets, the Federal Government will be in a better position to promote economic growth and enhance our security. Working with diverse stakeholders, Federal agencies are preparing for a range of climate and extreme weather impacts that put people, property, local economies, and ecosystems at risk.
To highlight these actions, yesterday we released a new report that outlines the Federal Government's progress in expanding and strengthening the Nation's capacity to better understand, prepare for, and respond to extreme events and other climate change impacts. This report, produced by the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, provides an update on actions in key areas of Federal adaptation, including: building resilience in local communities, safeguarding critical natural resources such as freshwater, and providing accessible climate information and tools to help decision-makers manage climate risks.
Based in part on numerous listening sessions and public outreach events with a wide range of stakeholders, "Federal Actions for a Climate Resilient Nation: Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force," highlights the progress toward implementing those recommendations. This report follows the Task Force's October 2010 Progress Report to the President that recommended the Federal Government strengthen the Nation's capacity to better understand and manage climate-related risks.
The 2010 Progress Report identified freshwater resources as a priority area for greater attention. On June 2, 2011, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a draft "National Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate," for public review and comment. Yesterday, CEQ also announced the final Action Plan that responds to public input. This final Plan will be the foundation for Federal agency efforts to manage freshwater resources as the climate changes. It is designed to help freshwater resource managers assure adequate water supplies, safeguard water quality and aquatic ecosystems, and protect human life, health and property.
The Obama Administration remains committed to protecting the Nation from the critical impacts of climate change. Responding to demand from local, state, and Tribal governments and communities, the Task Force will focus in coming years on reducing the Nation's vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events; enhancing regional coordination among Federal and non-Federal actors; strengthening and leveraging non-Federal partnerships; and implementing Federal agency adaptation planning. The Task Force will provide an update on Federal adaptation progress in March 2014, following the release of the 2013 National Climate Assessment Synthesis Report.
Article by Nancy Sutley, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, and Dr. Steve Fetter.
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Dr. Jane Lubchenco is Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Dr. Steve Fetter is Principal Assistant Director of Environment for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy