Ever since its creation in 2005, CSW has been ahead of the curve in championing climate change “preparedness.” We believe that CSW’s efforts and the work of our allies played a significant role in the concept of “climate preparedness” rising to the level of public discussion it required. The long virtual ‘climate silence’ in the White House that we argued against between 2009 and 2013 was finally broken, and a Climate Action Plan containing first steps was finally issued. A presidential Executive Order was issued in November 2013 as part of implementing the Climate Action Plan (CPA), establishing adaptive preparedness and resilience to disruptive climate change impacts as an essential national priority. Thus, the “National Climate Change Preparedness Initiative (NCCPI)” that we proposed in 2008 and have advocated for since then has become part of mainstream policymaking.

Consistent with our recommendations, the plan identified a set of preparedness initiatives aimed at building stronger and safer local communities and infrastructure, protecting the economy and natural resources, and using science to manage climate impacts. However, the Plan specifies 52 action items and has many moving parts – spanning a wide range of federal agencies, jurisdictions, budgets, missions, issues and decisions. There is no specification of how progress will be documented and reported, whether those actions will be transparent, how the results will be publicly communicated, and if this will be done in a way which will allow independent assessment. Furthermore, there are other issues which must be addressed. For example, while the Plan addresses the problem of coal-fired power plants by pledging to develop rules to regulate emissions, it fails to address the problems of coal leasing, mining, and export. In addition to these obstacles, the need for a central, coordinating body within the federal government to address serious emissions reductions and a capacity to handle the growing threats of climate instability is as strong as ever. We quickly learned through our efforts to promote this coordinated national mechanism that push-back from deeply entrenched fossil-fuel interests is formidable and must be countered directly.

We will therefore be working with allies, inside sources and experts to track key actions, call for transparency and accountability in reporting, and call strategic attention to these problem areas in the Plan. We will be promoting our findings and analysis through a strategic blogging campaign culminating in a White Paper on the Climate Action Plan with a projected public distribution of late 2015. We will do so while simultaneously applying the historical lessons learned from our NCCPI and taking advantage of the successful integration of our recommendations in the Plan by identifying statutory, regulatory and policy barriers to these critical national needs; and, we will seek to work with local NGO’s, leading coalition members and local communities and expect to be able to supply them vetted, insider information focused on our own and their advocacy efforts related to resilience and preparedness across the nation for the development of a new, national grassroots-led coordinated initiative. The long-term, integrated strategy for this coordinated proposed initiative will also be strategically promoted through a coordinated blogging campaign on our CSPW website, ultimately taking the form of a White Paper in 2016.

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