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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Last month, the White House Council of Environmental Quality's Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force released it's progress report containing a number of recommendations for how to facilitate adaptation across U.S. government agencies. While these recommendations represent the first step (of many) toward a coordinated federal approach to climate adaption, it's probably fair to say that it doesn't quite reflect the challenges involved in securing that coordination. While one can readily imagine adaptation planning within individual agencies, it's more difficult to envision how the discrete efforts within those agencies are integrated into a coherent federal program. Furthermore, the ultimate goal, as recognized within the America's Climate Choices report on adaptation, shouldn't simply be a federal approach, but a national approach. In any case, the key recommendations are:

  1. Encourage and Mainstream Adaptation Planning across the Federal Government – Climate change will challenge the mission, operations, and programs of nearly every Federal agency. Ensuring that the Federal Government has the capacity to execute its missions and maintain important services in the face of climate change is essential.
  2. Improve Integration of Science into Decision Making – Access to integrated,interdisciplinary science is critical to understanding potential climate change impacts, and informing the development, implementation and evaluation of response strategies.
  3. Address Key Cross‐Cutting Issues – The breadth of certain climate change impacts creates challenges that cut across the jurisdictions and missions of individual Federal agencies. Addressing these issues will require a collaborative approach along with coordination and partnerships at the local, state, Tribal, and regional levels.
  4. Enhance Efforts to Lead and Support International Adaptation – Climate change poses risks and opportunities that are important to many of the U.S. Government’s international development,security, and diplomatic priorities. Climate change adaptation should be a core consideration in the design and implementation of U.S. foreign assistance activities. Agencies should enhance collaboration to support international adaptation objectives.
  5. Coordinate Capabilities of the Federal Government to Support Adaptation – The Federal Government should improve coordination of its science, services, and assessments to better support stakeholders.

As for what comes next, the Task Force states:

"Agencies will initiate a formal adaptation planning process with the support of the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE). USGCRP will continue efforts to build a robust body of science and critical tools to support decision making, and interagency workgroups will collaborate to address cross-cutting issues and support international adaptation objectives. In addition, agencies will continue to develop and strengthen individual and interagency adaptation initiatives, such as the National Climate Assessment and efforts to provide climate services (e.g., modeling, decision-support tools)."

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