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Understanding, Preparing and Responding to Climate Change

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, discusses the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force Report.

I am proud that the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force released a report today with recommendations that will help strengthen the Nation’s capacity to understand, prepare for, and respond to the risks associated with climate change.  The Task Force, co-chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, includes representatives from more than 20 Federal Agencies that collaborated on these recommendations at the request of the President (you can view the report here).

We know that climate change is already affecting communities, livelihoods and natural places around the world.  Curbing greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the effects of climate change is a priority.  The Federal Government also has an obligation to prepare for and respond to the risks and vulnerabilities we are already beginning to see, and the impacts we may see in the future.

The Federal Government must consider how climate risks will affect our services, operations and assets throughout the country.  Infrastructure such as Federal roads, for example, may require additional resilience to extreme heat, extreme cold, or more frequent and severe floods.  Public lands may need to be managed to take into account more frequent or severe droughts and wildfires.  Planning for adaptation will reduce the long-term costs of responding to these kinds of impacts, and help protect American communities and the infrastructure and natural areas they rely on. 

The Federal Government can also play a critical role in building greater awareness of the importance of adaptation, promoting best practices, and providing access to essential information about climate risks and vulnerabilities.  The recommendations we announced today will help ensure the United States is prepared to safeguard our citizens, our communities and our economy as we confront the 21st century challenge of global climate change.

Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality