The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released it's Draft Plan for Climate Change Adaptation (pdf). Essentially, the agency is mainstreaming Climate Change adaptation and mitigation into it's core policies, planning, practices and programs whenever possible.
The plan published today for public consideration is meant to guide the agency’s response to global warming, which it says is occurring at a rapidly increasing rate.
“Until now, EPA has been able to assume that climate is relatively stable and future climate would mirror past climate. However, with climate changing at an increasingly rapid rate and outside the range to which society has adapted in the past, climate change is posing new challenges to EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
Guiding Principles for AdaptationEPA has identified priority actions it will take to begin integrating climate change adaptation into its programs, policies, rules and operations. These priorities represent EPA’s commitment to address the known vulnerabilities of its mission to climate change, and to continue to identify other vulnerabilities its programs may have to climate change.
• Adopt integrated approaches: Adaptation should be incorporated into core policies, planning, practices and programs whenever possible.
• Prioritize the most vulnerable: Adaptation plans should prioritize helping people, places and infrastructure that are most vulnerable to climate impacts and be designed and implemented with meaningful involvement from all parts of society.
• Use best‐available science: Adaptation should be grounded in the best‐available scientific understanding of climate change risks, impacts and vulnerabilities.
• Build strong partnerships: Adaptation requires coordination across multiple sectors and scales and should build on the existing efforts and knowledge of a wide range of public and private stakeholders.
• Apply risk‐management methods and tools: Adaptation planning should incorporate risk‐management methods and tools to help identify, assess and prioritize options to reduce vulnerability to potential environmental, social and economic implications of climate change.
• Apply ecosystem‐based approaches: Adaptation should, where relevant, take into account strategies to increase ecosystem resilience and protect critical ecosystem services on which humans depend to reduce vulnerability of human and natural systems to climate change.
• Maximize mutual benefits: Adaptation should, where possible, use strategies that complement or directly support other related climate or environmental initiatives, such as efforts to improve disaster preparedness, promote sustainable resource management, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions including the development of cost‐effective technologies.
• Continuously evaluate performance: Adaptation plans should include measureable goals and performance metrics to continuously assess whether adaptive actions are achieving desired outcomes.
(Source: The White House Council on Environmental Quality, “Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force: Recommended Actions in Support of a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy,” October 5, 2010, http://www.whitehouse.gov/...
• Fulfill Strategic Measures in FY 2011–2015 EPA Strategic Plan
• Protect Agency facilities and operations
• Factor legal considerations into adaptation efforts
• Strengthen adaptive capacity of EPA staff and partners through training
• Develop decision-support tools that enable EPA staff and partners to integrate climate adaptation planning into their work
• Identify cross-EPA science needs related to climate adaptation
• Partner with tribes to increase adaptive capacity
• Focus on most vulnerable people and places
• Measure and evaluate performance
• Develop Program and Regional Office Implementation Plans
I don't think it's a coincidence that this document is released right before President Obama makes his State of the Union Address on Tuesday. Look for climate change to be a priority in his address.
As stated this is a draft document which will be open for public review and comment until 4/9/2013. This is the perfect time to get your input into national standards for climate adaptation. After reviewing the document, you can make your comment here.
My update in response to comments: The EPA has been at the forefront of Climate Change mitigation and science with it's emphasis on reducing the short-lived climate pollutants of black carbon(soot), ground level ozone and methane.
This move is clarifying it's mission as directly taking action on both mitigation and adaptation of climate change.