Calling for “a comprehensive, proactive national planning and preparedness strategy for limiting and adapting to the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of climate change,” Climate Science Watch transmitted on September 4 a set of detailed recommendations to three Senate committee chairmen who have been developing climate and clean energy legislation. The recommendations focus on the components of legislation that should address climate change preparedness and adaptation, a prospective National Climate Service, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. We call for the establishment of a National Center for Climate Change Preparedness, which would serve as a coordinating entity and point of entry to the federal government for states and local communities facing a set of wide-ranging impacts, to allow full and equitable access to federal expertise and resources across multiple agencies and departments. See Details for a summary of our recommendations, our letter to Senators, and a discussion of the recommendations. 

Climate Science Watch recommendations for Senate climate and clean energy legislation

Letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair, Committee on Environment and Public Works

We delivered analogous letters and the recommendations to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The letters were copied to committee Ranking Minority Members Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Environment and Public Works; Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Committee on Foreign Relations; and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  In addition, we sent the recommendations to the Executive Office of the President and senior federal science executives overseeing the USGCRP and National Climate Service planning.

Some of our key recommendations include the following, with additional recommendations and explanation in the attached document:

National Climate Change Adaptation Planning and Preparedness

•  The Senate climate and clean energy bill should require the development and implementation of a comprehensive, proactive national planning and preparedness strategy for limiting and adapting to the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of climate change.
•  The Senate should include a program under which the federal government provides support for state-level climate change adaptation planning and implementation.

•  The Senate should establish a national climate change preparedness center to integrate federal interagency adaptation planning and implementation. This center should serve as a one-stop point of entry for states and local communities nationwide to access federal expertise and support for operational adaptation activities.

National Climate Service

•  We support the provision in H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed by the House in June 2009, for a 2-year interagency planning process, led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to develop a proposal for the structure and functions of a National Climate Service. 

•  If a National Climate Service is created, it should be designed as a partner of the USGCRP and serve the purpose of meeting a wide range of time-sensitive stakeholder needs for data, information, and targeted assessments. The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is the appropriate federal program for planning and implementing climate observing systems, climate science research, climate predictive modeling, and national climate change impacts assessments. 

U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)

•  The Senate should require federal agencies with scientific research programs to adopt policies that ensure the integrity of scientific communications.  Such policies should include provisions regarding the approval of final text and communications, and enable scientists to disseminate research results and freely communicate with the Congress, the media, and colleagues in a timely fashion. Scientific reports and communications of the USGCRP and its participating agencies should be protected from inappropriate political interference.
•  The USGCRP needs White House leadership. The Senate bill should designate the Office of Science and Technology Policy as the chair of the USGCRP interagency principals-level committee.

•  We believe OSTP should be given a mandate to play a stronger role in governing and shaping agency research and budget priorities for climate and global change research than it has been able to in the past.

•  With the benefit of 20 years of experience since the development of the original Global Change Research Act and 10 years since the first National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts was carried out, the Senate should update and strengthen the requirements for climate change impacts assessments.

•  The Senate should strengthen USGCRP budget coordination and reporting requirements to promote accountability for how the priorities established in the USGCRP strategic plan for research and assessments are being reflected in the programs and budget requests of the program’s participating agencies.

•  A full-time program leadership group reporting to the OSTP Director should be located in the USGCRP Coordination Office.  This office should have senior-level leadership with a stronger mandate to drive interagency program priorities and coordination than does the current USGCRP Office.

•  The Senate should consider requiring the establishment of an external committee of program stakeholders to provide ongoing oversight, with periodic reporting to the White House and Congress from a stakeholder perspective on USGCRP research and assessment priorities and program implementation.

•  We support including the proposal presented by the Union of Concerned Scientists, most of which is included in H.R. 2454, pp. 684-699, to require periodic scientific reviews of the adequacy of greenhouse gas emissions reductions policy and actions to meet targeted goals in reducing the risk of climate change impacts.

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