Across the country, Americans see their communities changing, increasingly at risk to the devastating impacts of climate change. New data released last week by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration underscores the threat: 2015 was the second hottest year on record in the U.S., bringing about numerous billion-dollar extreme weather disasters from coast to coast.
However, as the President underscored in his State of the Union address earlier this week, while climate change poses threats to our environment, economy, and national security, it also presents a tremendous opportunity for innovation. And communities and local leaders will pave the way. Through locally-driven climate action, we will not only improve community resilience to the effects of climate change, but build a stronger nation overall.
This week, we took critical next steps to link two initiatives that help support communities in applying creative solutions to address the impacts of climate change. These initiatives reflect what we know all communities need: individuals stepping up to the plate to support local priorities and innovative approaches that use the best data to advance comprehensive community-driven strategies.
Earlier this week, we welcomed the first-ever group of Resilience AmeriCorps members to the White House as they began their on-the-ground work in communities across the country to help develop and implement local climate resilience plans. And today, the Administration is announcing that each of the Resilience AmeriCorps host communities is also being invited to participate in Climate Action Champion programming—for leaders that are taking action to reduce carbon pollution and build community resilience to the impacts of climate change – joining 16 other communities across the U.S.. Together, these initiatives represent a deliberate approach by the Obama Administration to work hand-in-hand with communities to advance locally-identified priorities.
The Resilience AmeriCorps program was developed in response to clear feedback from the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, with the goal of improving how the Federal Government responds to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. In addition to receiving enhanced capacity through AmeriCorps VISTA members, through Climate Action Champions activities these communities will receive peer-to-peer support to further their resilience efforts and technical assistance from an inter-Agency working group launched in 2015 to focus on the Champions and leverage existing Federal resources in a meaningful way. We are learning from these communities too, gaining a better understanding of barriers to local climate action and incorporating lessons learned into Federal programs, tools, and processes. This means cutting red tape and unlocking valuable data to help develop tailored solutions to meet local realities.
Both the Climate Action Champions and Resilience AmeriCorps programs will further enable a growing number of local communities across the U.S. to continue to support the President’s Climate Action Plan and the historic international agreement made in Paris to cut harmful carbon pollution. The first-ever group of Resilience AmeriCorps members will be on the frontlines of this important community-driven action – from Jared James and Cassondra Newman, who will work with city officials in Anchorage to help improve the city’s energy grid resilience and creatively bolster the food production system on the local level, to Mia Dillard and Nancy Simpson who will support Minot, North Dakota’s vision to reduce flood risk and build capacity for long-term economic resilience. In doing so, these communities are not just responding to the threat of climate change, but seizing the remarkable opportunity it presents. This is what we need to continue to establish the United States as a climate leader, and we are proud to be part of this milestone in building a better, safer, and more climate resilient planet for our children and grandchildren.
Climate Action Champions is one of the Administration’s community-based initiatives operating across the country. To view all active initiatives in your local community, visit https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/place
Resilience AmeriCorps is a first of its kind effort to support local resilience-building efforts. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation and Cities of Service to place AmeriCorps members in communities to provide capacity building and technical support for climate resilience. http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/resilience-americorps