How is the USA preparing for climate change?

In an executive order from the White House today, President Obama outlined how the US can prepare itself for the impacts of climate change

Source: Flickr/Justin Sloan

Source: Flickr/Justin Sloan

By Sophie Yeo

The US needs to prepare for the impacts of climate change, says Barack Obama, the US president who earlier this year declared that he doesn’t “have much patience” for anyone who denies the science.

Issuing an executive order from the White House today, he ordered a list of activities that will help the US increase its resilience to the impacts of global warming.

According to the report, these impacts will include: “an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise.”

So how does he think America can fend of the worst of it? Here’s RTCC’s summary:

1. Policy

The Federal government must facilitate efforts to combat climate change at Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector and non-profit-sector levels. Strong partnerships are a must across all levels of government, as well as informed decision making. It should learn from past experience and plan for future preparedness.

2. Investment

Barriers to positive investment? Remove them, says Obama. He has also issued the death warrant to funding programmes that “perhaps unintentionally” increase vulnerability to climate change. Federal agencies are instructed to encourage smarter and more climate-resilient investments by States, local communities and tribes.

3. Land and water

Within nine months, the heads of several departments, including the Department of Defense and the Army Corps of Engineers, must complete an inventory of any proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, with a view to making America’s natural resources, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient. Let’s hope none of the department heads are on maternity leave, then.

4. Data

No one said climate change resilience preparation was going to be fun. Government officials across the States will be brushing up on their Excel skills, as the White House instructs them to develop and provide “authoritative, easily accessible, usable, and timely data” that will help the country to increase its climate resilience.

5. Be prepared!

The Scouts said it first; now Obama is jumping on the bandwagon. He instructs all agencies to continue to develop their Agency Adaptation Plans. Basically, these should identify any impact that climate change might have on each agency’s ability to carry out its missions, as well as describe action that the agency can take to build resilience in the short and the long term.

6. Bureaucracy

You can never have too many councils. The White House sets up a Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which will include senior officials from a broad cross section of existing government departments. This Council is tasked with developing and coordinating efforts across agencies to increase climate resilience, as well as supporting action at State, local and tribal levels.

7. Action

Obama also establishes a State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Its job is to remove barriers, create incentives and modernise any Federal programs that look as though they might be getting a bit rusty, to help increase resilience to climate impacts and extreme weather.

For more detail and added jargon, take a look at the full list on the White House website.

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