What happened: For three years, the Trump administration delayed an update to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) peer-reviewed report on climate change indicators.
Why it matters: By preventing the publication of the EPA’s climate change indicators, the Trump administration prevented federal scientists from releasing a key set of data showing the causes and effects of climate change. This information plays a pivotal role in how academics, researchers, and the public learn about and study climate change. The Trump administration stifled the government’s ability to report on climate change indicators and therefore diminished the government’s ability to act upon these data to protect public health and the environment.
For three years, the Trump administration delayed the release of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report detailing important evidence related to the causes and effects of climate change. Since 2010, the EPA’s climate change indicators website, reports, and data have served as an important source of information on how climate change is manifesting in the world as well as in people’s daily lives.
Prior to a May 2021 update, the climate change indicators website was last updated in 2016, when the Trump administration had halted the regular updates that had been a regular feature of the site. As compared to its 2016 assessment, the EPA’s 2021 update shows that climate effects are happening faster and becoming more extreme. The 2021 update contains about a dozen new indicators of climate change and provides evidence showing that almost every facet of our climate system is changing.
While most of this data is publicly available elsewhere, such as on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites, the EPA carefully screens the data used for its climate change indicators to ensure that it is connected to climate change and is based on trends over time. The EPA’s climate change indicators provide important scientific input for federal interagency efforts, such as the National Climate Assessment. By preventing the release of this important scientific information, the Trump administration sidelined our ability to more deeply understand how the climate is changing, and therefore delayed or hindered the ability of decisionmakers to use this science to protect people and the environment from the impacts of climate change.