National Climate Assessment Report: Time Is Running Out...
Late last week on the heels of the Thanksgiving holiday, the federal government released the second volume of its Fourth National Climate Assessment. The report details the present and future impacts of climate change in the U.S. by sector and by region.
The main finding? Climate change is already having economic and health impacts across the nation, and time is running out to prevent or minimize even the very worst impacts.
Prepared by the 13 federal agencies that make up the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the assessment reflects the urgency of the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which underscored that avoiding the worst effects of climate change will require dramatically increasing the pace and scale of greenhouse gas emission reductions. This second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment also confirms many of the findings from the first volume (released last year).
According to the report, many of the climate impacts we expect to feel by 2050 are largely locked in and unavoidable. However, acting now to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions will prevent far worse impacts from occurring. A combination of voluntary actions and strong federal and state-level policies will be essential to achieve the emissions reductions required to avoid the “worst-case scenario” from occurring.
The case for immediate action is clear. This “worst-case scenario” could add hundreds of billions of dollars in costs to the economy per year by the end of the century. Now more than ever business leaders have an unequivocal case for supporting smart climate and clean energy policies—policies that the National Climate Assessment makes clear are critical to protecting our economy, our health, and our communities.
World leaders are now preparing to convene next month in Katowice, Poland, for the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP24, to hammer out the implementation plan for the Paris Agreement. Both in Poland and here in the U.S., investors, companies, and other non-state actors in the U.S. economy will courageously stand up and call for urgent action to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Ceres stands in solidarity with all those who are “still in” and “all in” on meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. We pledge to do our part to move lawmakers at all levels of government to act boldly on tackling climate change. As these recently reports have made clear, the time to act is now.