November 17, 2014

Climate Task Force Recommendations Represent a Call To Action

Statement By Rob Cowin, Union Of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (November 17, 2014)—President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience released recommendations today on how the federal government can help communities become more resilient to climate change.

Below is a statement by Rob Cowin, director of government affairs for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Cities around the country are grappling with the costly and dangerous impacts of climate change on a regular basis. Communities are dealing with more weather extremes like heavy rainfall events that cause flooding and, in the West, hotter and drier conditions that lengthen the wildfire season. While coastal communities are experiencing more tidal flooding because of sea level rise, many urban communities are experiencing more life-threatening heat waves as temperatures increase. Climate change is threatening our most vulnerable populations and it’s putting the financial health of U.S. cities at great risk.

“The recommendations the task force released today are a call to action. It’s time to make climate preparedness a national priority. There’s a lot state and local governments can do to reduce their vulnerabilities to climate impacts and extreme weather, but they can’t do it alone. The challenges and costs are too great. The federal government has an imperative to lead by providing better access to information, restructuring federal programs and policies to incentivize increased preparedness, and leveraging more federal investments in infrastructure that make communities more resilient to climate impacts.

“The administration’s new climate resilience toolkit can be especially helpful to communities, as it will assist them planning for climate impacts, such as knowing which neighborhoods are likely to flood in future storm surges. It can also help municipalities plan for an increase in high tide flooding, which will become more common as the sea level continues to rise. As our recent report showed, flooding during high tides—something that rarely occurred in the past—is projected to grow to the point that sections of coastal cities may flood so often they would become unusable in the near future. For example, in 30 years, Annapolis, D.C. and Wilmington, North Carolina will each likely see well over 300 flooding events  each year.

“The task force’s recommendations are a positive step forward, but we also need Congress to act. While the taskforce report correctly highlights the critical role that the federal government can play in helping to protect communities, Congress must also act to reduce carbon emissions to help slow the pace and scale of these climate threats.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.