The energy and climate policy community is all abuzz over the comprehensive climate change and energy policy proposal released last week by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), Chair of this Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee. The 648-page “discussion draft” of a comprehensive bill, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Here we summarize the portion of the bill that addresses climate change impacts assessments and adaptation strategies, covered under Subtitle E of Title IV (see Details); a companion post provides our commentary and recommends some changes.
post by Anne Polansky
TITLE I—CLEAN ENERGY
TITLE II—ENERGY EFFICIENCY
TITLE III—REDUCING GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION
TITLE IV—TRANSITIONING TO A CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
We will focus here on Subtitle E of Title IV, “Adapting to Climate Change,” which in turn is divided into two parts—Part 1 creates a domestic adaptation program; Part 2 creates an international climate adaptation program.
Part 1 – DOMESTIC ADAPTATION
Subpart A of Part 1 creates a NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PROGRAM
The main elements are as follows:
• NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION COUNCIL. (Sec. 462) Establishes a National Climate Change Adaptation Council, charged with serving as “a forum for interagency consultation on, and coordination of, Federal policies relating to assessment of, and adaptation to, the impacts of climate change on the United States and its territories,” with representatives appointed by the heads of each of the following agencies and departments:
.. (1) NOAA; (Note: the bill stipulates that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration representative is the permanent chair of the Council.)
.. (2) the Environmental Protection Agency;
.. (3) the Department of Agriculture
.. (4) the Department of Commerce;
.. (5) the Department of Defense;
.. (6) the Department of Energy;
.. (7) the Department of Health and Human Services;
.. (8) the Department of Homeland Security;
.. (9) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
.. (10) the Department of the Interior;
.. (11) the Department of Transportation;
.. (12) the Army Corps of Engineers;
.. (13) the Centers for Disease Control;
.. (14) the Federal Emergency Management Agency;
.. (15) the National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
.. (16) the United States Geological Survey; and
.. (17) such other Federal agencies or departments as the President considers appropriate.
• NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PROGRAM (Sec. 463): Directs the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Administrator of NOAA, to establish within NOAA a National Climate Change Adaptation Program “for the purpose of increasing the overall effectiveness of Federal climate change adaptation efforts.” (emphasis added)
Develop and publish periodic National Assessments (Sec. 464):
(CSW note: This bill takes a very essential component of climate science, the periodic assessment of climate change impacts—a requirement that is already codified under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (PL 101-606) and falls under the interagency US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP, renamed the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) under President Bush)—and moves it to NOAA. See related post commenting on this bill.)
The bill reads: “Not later than January 1, 2012, and every 4 years thereafter, the Administrator of NOAA shall publish and deliver to the President a National Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment evaluating regional and national vulnerability to impacts of climate change, strategies to adapt to such impacts, and priorities for further research related to climate change impacts and adaptive capacity.”
It requires regional assessments “for a sufficient number of geographic regions within the United States and its territories to effectively address specific climate change impacts at the regional and State or territorial levels… at an appropriate geographic scale… [and assess] the nature and probability of predicted short-term, medium-term, and long-term impacts of climate change on human health and a broad range of natural systems, resources, infrastructure, and social and economic sectors. Vulnerable systems and areas are to be prioritized. Anticipated costs associated with climate impacts are to be estimated. The quadrennial reports are to describe adaptation efforts within regions (for example in public health, emergency response, infrastructure and development, water resource management, agriculture, forest management, and coastal management). The assessments are to identify gaps in adaption efforts and the costs associated with various strategies to address them. The reports are to “describe current research, observation, and monitoring activities focused on understanding regional climate change impacts and adaptation to such impacts, as well as research and data needs and priorities in these areas.” NOAA is to “assess the adequacy of existing mechanisms for communication and coordination within the region between Federal agencies and regional, State, local, and tribal stakeholders and recommend measures to enhance such communication and coordination.”
Each quadrennial National Assessment report is to include a synthesis of the regional assessments that describes climate change impacts and adaptive strategies at the national, international, and global level; an estimate of the costs associated with climate impacts at the national level; a prioritized list of strategies to address impacts and the roles of various federal entities in doing so; priorities for research, observation, monitoring, and policy tools for meeting the needs of state and local decisionmakers; an assessment of existing communication mechanisms between stakeholders and the federal government; and progress in achieving objectives identified in previous Assessments. (emphasis added)
The NOAA Administrator is directed to consult with the Council in conducting these National Assessments and to “seek input and assistance from the Federal agencies represented on the Council within their respective areas of expertise. (emphasis added)
The NOAA Administrator and participating Federal agencies are to “consult with State, local, and tribal governments and nongovernmental stakeholders at the local, State, and regional levels, to facilitate coordination of efforts and to maximize the utility to local, State, regional, and tribal decision makers of the information provided by the National Assessment.”
The National Assessments are to be “based on the best scientific and commercial data available” and to follow a set of standardized procedures for dealing with scientific uncertainty.
The NOAA Administrator is also “to take into consideration research and information” in IPCC, USGCRP or CCSP reports, as well as other relevant climate impacts assessments prepared by or for any government entity.
Establishes within NOAA a set of Climate Change Adaptation Services (Sec. 465):
Directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish within NOAA a National Climate Service that “serves as a clearinghouse to provide State, local, and tribal government decisionmakers with access to regionally and nationally relevant information, data, forecasts, and services relating to climate change impacts and adaptation to such impacts.” (emphasis added) The NCS is tasked with the following:
1) develop and provide access to policy-relevant climate information products, databases, decision tools, and services for Federal, State, local, and tribal government decisionmakers and policymakers;
2) provide technical assistance to Federal, State, local, and tribal government efforts to assess vulnerability to climate change impacts and develop appropriate strategies and plans to reduce such vulnerability;
3) facilitate communication and coordination among Federal, State, local, and tribal stakeholders with regard to climate change information and adaptation strategies; and
4) undertake education and outreach initiatives related to climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and the application of climate information in decisionmaking.
Directs the NOAA Administrator to convene a set of regional and national workshops “to facilitate information exchange, outreach, and coordination of efforts on assessment of and adaptation to climate change impacts.” Regional workshops are to take place in each region at least once during each four-year cycle, and at least one national workshop per four-year cycle is to take place after all the regional workshops are concluded.
In addition, the NOAA Administrator is authorized to deploy observation and monitoring systems, including remote sensing systems, in order to support the National Climate Change Adaptation Program. (CSW Note: NOAA already has this authority; see accompanying critique.)
Requires federal agency Climate Change Adaptation Plans (Sec. 466):
Every agency / department on the Council is required to complete an agency climate change adaptation plan “detailing the agency’s current and projected efforts to address the potential impacts of climate change on matters within the agency’s jurisdiction” and submit it to the President for review within one year after the publication of each National Assessment. Then within 18 months of the Assessment publication, each Council member must submit their plans to certain House and Senate committees. On matters within each agency’s jurisdiction, each plan must include “a review of the current impacts of climate change” and an assessment of their probability; a description of priorities for building our adaptive capacity; a review of current efforts to address climate change impacts are being integrated into agency decisionmaking and budgets; a description of ongoing initiatives; a description of current and proposed mechanisms to enhance cooperation on climate change adaptation efforts with other Federal agencies and with State, local, and tribal governments and non-governmental stakeholders; an assessment of success in meeting the objectives in its most recent adaptation plan; and an estimate of the budgetary and human resources needed to address climate change impacts.
Establishes a National Climate Change Adaptation Fund in the US Treasury (Sec. 467):
The bill authorizes to be appropriated to the National Climate Change Adaptation Fund “such sums as may be necessary” and requires the President, by Jan. 1, 2013 and through the relevant agencies, to promulgate regulations establishing an integrated program to use the Fund to provide financial assistance to State, local, and tribal governments for projects to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts. The bill stipulates a set of requirements for these regulations, such as “identifying priorities and objectives for building State, local, and tribal governments’ capacity to adapt to climate change impacts through financial support for State, local, and tribal projects” and making sure that projects are in line with the findings in the National Assessment.
Subpart B of Part 1 addresses PUBLIC HEALTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Sec. 471 declares: “It is the policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State, tribal, and local governments, other concerned public and private organizations and citizens to use all practicable means and measures— (1) to assist the efforts of public health professionals, first responders, States, tribes, municipalities, and local communities to incorporate measures to adapt health systems to address impacts of climate change; (2) to encourage further research, interdisciplinary partnership, and collaboration between stake-holders to understand and monitor the health impacts of climate change, for preparedness activities, and for improvement of health care infrastructure; and (3) to encourage each and every American to learn about the impact of climate change on health.”
Sec. 472 requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “promulgate a national strategy for mitigating the impacts of climate change on public health in the United States” within two years of passage of the Act, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, NOAA, NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dept. of Agriculture, and other groups such as local governments and public health organizations.
Subpart C of Part 1 is titled NATURAL RESOURCE ADAPTATION
Sec. 481 establishes an “integrated Federal program to assist natural resources to become more resilient and adapt to and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification” and authorizes the needed financial support for doing so.
Sec. 482 establishes a formal Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Policy, namely, that it is the policy of the federal government, in cooperation with State and local governments, tribal organizations, and other interested stakeholders to use all practicable means and measures to assist natural resources to become more resilient and adapt to and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.” Sec. 483 provides definitions for various terms used in this Subpart.
Sec. 484 requires the Chair of the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to “advise the President on implementation and development of a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (see Sec. 486) and on natural resource agency adaptation plans required under Sec. 488, and to serve as the Chair of a newly established Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel (Sec. 485).
The CEQ Chair is also charged with coordinating federal agency strategies, plans, programs, and activities related to assisting natural resources to become more resilient and adapt to and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.
Sec. 485 requires the President to establish a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel whose Chair is the Chair of CEQ and whose members consist of the heads of various agencies and departments including:
– Department of Commerce (acting through the NOAA Administrator)
– Department of the Interior
– Environmental Protection Agency
– Department of Agriculture
– Army Corps of Engineers
– Council on Environmental Quality
– heads of other federal agencies or departments as the President deems appropriate
The function of the Panel is to serve as a forum for interagency consultation on and the coordination of the development and implementation of a national Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (see Sec. 486).
Sec. 486 requires a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to be developed within two years of the Act’s enactment (and every five years thereafter) by the Panel established under section 485 “for assisting natural resources in becoming more resilient and adapting to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.” The Panel must “base the strategy on the best available science, as identified by the Climate Change Adaptation Science and Information Program established under section 487; cooperate with States, territories and tribes; coordinate with other federal agencies; consult with local governments, conservation organizations, scientists, and other interested stakeholders; and provide for public comment. The bill stipulates that the Strategy include seven different elements, including, for example, an assessment of the effect of ocean acidification on natural resources and a description of the current research on this topic; protocols for integrating ocean acidification strategies into federal management of natural resources; mechanisms for ensuring communication and coordination among Federal agencies; and a process for ensuring that agency adaptation plans address the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the natural resources under their jurisdiction. Agencies on the Panel are required to integrate the elements of the strategy into their programs.
Sec. 487 requires the heads of NOAA and USGS to establish a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Science and Information Program, within 90 days of enactment, that would be implemented through the USGS National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center and counterpart programs at NOAA. Its purposes would be “to provide technical assistance to Federal agencies, State and local governments, and tribal organizations in their efforts to assess the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on natural resources; to conduct and sponsor research and provide Federal agencies, State and local governments, and tribal organizations with research products, decision and monitoring tools and information, to develop strategies for assisting natural resources to become
more resilient and adapt to and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification; and to assist Federal agencies in the development of detailed agency and department specific adaptation plans required under section 488.
The Secretaries of Commerce and Interior are required to undertake a climate change and ocean acidification impact survey (within 180 days of enactment and every 5 years thereafter) that
“identifies natural resources considered likely to be adversely affected by climate change and ocean acidification; includes baseline monitoring and ongoing trend analysis…; identifies and prioritizes needed monitoring and research…; and identifies decision tools necessary to develop strategies for assisting natural resources to become more resilient and adapt to and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. These Secretaries are also required to establish a Science Advisory Board comprised of 10-20 members with the appropriate expertise and who represent a “balanced membership among Federal, State, and local representatives, universities, and conservation organizations;” half the members must be recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The SAB is to A) advise the Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Science and Information Program on “the state-of-the-science regarding the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on natural resources and scientific strategies and mechanisms for adaptation; and to identify and recommend priorities for ongoing research needs on such issues. The SAB is required to collaborate with other federal climate change and ecosystem research entities, and make its advice available to the public.
Sec. 488. One year after completion of the Strategy (see Sec. 486), each agency on the Panel (Sec. 485) is to complete an agency adaptation Plan, subject to public comment and Presidential approval, that details the agency’s current and projected efforts to address the potential impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on natural resources within the agency’s jurisdiction. The Plan is to be submitted to Congress within 30 days of approval by the President. The bill specifies that each agency adaptation Plan – to be reviewed every five years – should include prioritized goals and an implementation schedule, and lists the elements it should include. Implementation of the Plan is to be “conducted in a way that protects, maintains, and restores the resilience of natural resources under the jurisdiction of other agencies and their ability to adapt and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.”
Sec. 489 requires that States, in order to be eligible to receive funds under Sec. 490, must prepare a natural resources adaptation plan detailing the State’s current and projected efforts to address the potential impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on natural resources and coastal areas within the State’s jurisdiction. These plans are subject to the approval of the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce, within 180 days of transmittal, and must be updated every five years. The bill stipulates a list of elements that each Plan must include, and requires the States to solicit public and independent scientific input. The Plan also needs to take into consideration similar plans, such as those for fish habitat, wetlands conservation, coastal zone management, fisheries management, endangered species, and so on.
Sec. 490 establishes a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund within the US Treasury, and authorizes appropriations in sums as may be necessary. The bill specifies percentages that are to go towards each of several categories including to States to carry out adaptation activities in accordance with the adaptation plans required in Sec. 489; State wildlife agencies and coastal agencies; the Secretary of the Interior for endangered species, migratory bird, and other fish and wildlife and cooperative programs; and financial assistance to Indian tribes. It also provides for deposits to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to the National Forest Service, the US EPA, the Corps of Engineers, and the Dept. of Commerce. All recipients of funding must provide 10% in nonfederal matching funds.
Part 2 of Subtitle E creates an INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PROGRAM
The “findings” under Sec. 491 include (partial list):
– “global climate change is a potentially significant threat multiplier for instability around the world and is likely to exacerbate competition and conflict over agricultural, vegetative, marine, and water resources and displace people, thus increasing hunger and poverty and causing increased pressure on developing countries;”
– “the strategic, social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental consequences of global climate change are likely to have disproportionate impacts on developing countries, which have less economic and financial capacity to respond to such impacts;”
– “the countries most vulnerable to climate change, due both to exposure to harmful impacts and to their lower capacity to adapt, are developing countries with very low industrial emissions that
have contributed less to climate change than more affluent countries;
– “developing countries rely, to a much greater degree, on the natural and environmental systems likely to be affected by climate change for sustenance and livelihoods, as well as economic growth
– “the consequences of global climate change, including increases in poverty and destabilization of economies and societies, are likely to pose a long-term threat to the national security, foreign policy,
and economic interests of the United States;”
– “it is in the national security, foreign policy, and economic interests of the United States to recognize, plan for, and mitigate the international strategic, social, political, cultural, environmental and economic effects of a changing climate and to assist developing countries to increase their resilience to those effects.” (emphasis added)
The stated “purposes” under Sec. 491 are “to provide assistance from the United States to the most vulnerable developing countries in order to support the development and implementation of climate change adaptation programs and projects that reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of communities to climate change impacts including impacts upon water availability, agricultural productivity, flood risk, coastal resources, timing of seasons, biodiversity, economic livelihoods, health and diseases, and human migration;” and “to provide such assistance in a manner that promotes and protects the national security, foreign policy, environmental, and economic interests of the United States where such interests may be advanced by minimizing, averting, or increasing resilience to climate change impacts.”
Sec. 493 requires the Secretary of State, working with the Administrators of the US Agency for International Development and the US EPA, to establish an International Climate Change Adaptation Program within USAID, and authorizes the Program to “carry out activities and projects and make grants to any private or public group (including public international organizations), association, or other entity engaged in peaceful activities.
This support is intended to be for the most vulnerable developing countries—to provide assistance for the development climate change adaptation plans, policies, and projects; to support capacity-building and building community-level resilience; climate adaptation research; the protection and rehabilitation of natural systems; the deployment of technologies for responding to the destabilizing impacts of climate change; to encourage the adoption of renewable and energy efficiency technologies beneficial to building community-level resilience; and to encourage the engagement of local communities through full disclosure of information, consultation, and the communities’ informed participation relating to the development of plans, programs and projects to increase community-level resilience to climate change impacts.
USAID is to give priority to the most vulnerable countries, and to ensure that local communities in areas where any Program projects or activities are planned are engaged through full disclosure of information, public participation, and consultation. USAID is also to attempt to ensure that Program projects are aligned with broader development, poverty alleviation, or natural resource management objectives and initiatives in the recipient country. The bill establishes reporting requirements and requires annual reports to the President, which, in addition to other items, should address the ramifications of any potentially destabilizing impacts climate change may have on the national security, foreign policy, and economic interests of the United States (such as the creation of refugees and internally displaced peoples; international or internal armed conflicts over water, food, land, or other resources; loss of agricultural and other livelihoods, cultural stability, and other causes of increased poverty and economic destabilization; decline in availability of resources needed for survival, including water; increased impact of natural disasters (including droughts, flooding, and other severe weather events); increased prevalence or virulence of climate-related diseases; and intensified urban migration.
Sec. 495 stipulates how funding should be disbursed: the Administrator of USAID is required to consult with the Secretaries of State and Treasury, and the US EPA Administrator, and provides allocation formulas for disbursement. Funding may also be disbursed under provisions pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. Other conditions are stipulated, such as requiring annual reports, and requiring that the USAID Administrator establish and implement a system to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of assistance provided, in accordance with certain performance goals.