Today, Shere Abbott, associate director of environment for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, nominated Tom Karl, the Department of Commerce's principal representative to the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, to serve as the group's next Chair. The Subcommittee includes representatives from 13 Federal Agencies and steers the activities of the USGCRP. Tom is currently the transitional director of the NOAA Climate Service.
Abbott also nominated Tim Killeen, Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation as Vice Chair for Strategic Planning and Research.
Tom Karl's appointment as chair of the subcommittee reinforces NOAA's long standing history of contributions to the USGCRP. NOAA is a lead Federal agency in the provision of trusted climate science and information, is a co-chair of the White House Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, and one of the lead agencies in the ongoing National Assessment process.
Tom will take on this new leadership role, while continuing to provide guidance for the development of a proposed Climate Service within NOAA. During his appointment, Scott Hausman, will serve as Acting Director of NCDC, and Sharon LeDuc will serve as Acting Deputy Director.
As director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., Tom has helped develop and implement internationally recognized standards for data quality. He has played a key role in reports developed by the USGCRP and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
He served as Co-Chair of the USGCRP's US National Assessment and its recent Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report. Additionally, Karl was the convening lead author for the Observations Chapter for the IPCC's Third Assessment Report and was the review editor for the chapter on Observations for its Fourth Assessment Report. He has been the convening and lead author and review editor of all the major IPCC assessments since 1990.
He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and has recently completed his term as president. He is also a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and several books as editor and contributor.
He has received many awards for his work in services and scientific contributions in climate-related work including: two Presidential Rank Awards, five Gold Medals from the Department of Commerce and two Bronze Medals; the American Meteorological Society's Suomi Award; National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences; the NOAA Administrator's Award, and several others.
Tim Killeen is currently Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation and is the former Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Past President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Killeen has been the Principal Investigator for many research projects for NASA, NSF, and the U.S. Air Force. These programs include an extensive ground-based network of remote automated optical observatories, including two in Greenland, one in Michigan, one in Chile, and one in Northern Canada.
As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the National Research Council today issued three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as America's Climate Choices.
"These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond."
'Poses Significant Risks'
The compelling case that climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities is based on a strong, credible body of evidence, says Advancing the Science of Climate Change, one of the new reports. While noting that there is always more to learn and that the scientific process is never "closed," the report emphasizes that multiple lines of evidence support scientific understanding of climate change. The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.
"Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for â€” and in many cases is already affecting â€” a broad range of human and natural systems," the report concludes. It calls for a new era of climate change science where an emphasis is placed on "fundamental, use-inspired" research, which not only improves understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change but also is useful to decision makers at the local, regional, national, and international levels acting to limit and adapt to climate change. Seven cross-cutting research themes are identified to support this more comprehensive and integrative scientific enterprise.
The report recommends that a single federal entity or program be given the authority and resources to coordinate a national, multidisciplinary research effort aimed at improving both understanding and responses to climate change. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, established in 1990, could fulfill this role, but it would need to form partnerships with action-oriented programs and address weaknesses that in the past have led to research gaps, particularly in the critical area of research that supports decisions about responding to climate change. Leaders of federal climate research should also redouble efforts to deploy a comprehensive climate observing system.
Beyond 'Business as Usual'
Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require prompt and sustained efforts to promote major technological and behavioral changes, says Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change, another of the new reports. Although limiting emissions must be a global effort to be effective, strong U.S. actions to reduce emissions will help encourage other countries to do the same. In addition, the U.S. could establish itself as a leader in developing and deploying the technologies necessary to limit and adapt to climate change.
An inclusive national policy framework is needed to ensure that all levels of government, the private sector, and millions of households and individuals are contributing to shared national goals. Toward that end, the U.S. should establish a greenhouse gas emissions "budget" that sets a limit on total domestic emissions over a set period of time and provides a clear, directly measurable goal. However, the report warns, the longer the nation waits to begin reducing emissions, the harder and more expensive it will likely be to reach any given emissions target.
The report does not recommend a specific target for a domestic emissions budget, but suggests a range of emissions from 170 to 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent for the period 2012 through 2050 as a reasonable goal, a goal that is roughly in line with the range of emission reduction targets proposed recently by the Obama administration and members of Congress. Even at the higher end of this range, meeting the target will require a major departure from "business-as-usual" emission trends. The report notes that with the exception of the recent economic downtown, domestic emissions have been rising for most of the past three decades. The U.S. emitted approximately 7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2008 (the most current year for which such data were available). If emissions continue at that rate, the proposed budget range would be used up well before 2050, the report says.
A carbon-pricing system is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. Either cap-and-trade, a system of taxing emissions, or a combination of the two could provide the needed incentives. While the report does not specifically recommend a cap-and-trade system, it notes that cap-and-trade is generally more compatible with the concept of an emissions budget.
Carbon pricing alone, however, is not enough to sufficiently reduce domestic emissions, the report warns. Strategically chosen, complementary policies are necessary to assure rapid progress in key areas such as: increasing energy efficiency; accelerating the development of renewable energy sources; advancing full-scale development of new-generation nuclear power and carbon capture and storage systems; and retrofitting, retiring, or replacing existing emissions-intensive energy infrastructure. Research and development of new technologies that could help reduce emissions more cost effectively than current options also should be strongly supported.
Managing the Risks
Reducing vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change that the nation cannot, or does not, avoid is a highly desirable strategy to manage and minimize the risks, says the third report, Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. Some impacts â€“ such as rising sea levels, disappearing sea ice, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events like heavy precipitation and heat waves â€“ are already being observed across the country. The report notes that policymakers need to anticipate a range of possible climate conditions and that uncertainty about the exact timing and magnitude of impacts is not a reason to wait to act. In fact, it says boosting U.S. adaptive capacity now can be viewed as "an insurance policy against an uncertain future," while inaction could increase risks, especially if the rate of climate change is particularly large.
Although much of the response to climate change will occur at local and regional levels, a national adaptation strategy is needed to facilitate cooperation and collaboration across all lines of government and between government and other key parties, including the private sector, community organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. As part of this strategy, the federal government should provide technical and scientific resources that are lacking at the local or regional scale, incentives for local and state authorities to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.
Adapting to climate change will be an ongoing, iterative process, the report says, and will involve decision makers at every scale of government and all parts of society. A first step is to identify vulnerabilities to climate change impacts and begin to examine adaptation options that will improve resilience. To build the scientific knowledge base and provide a basis for increasingly effective action in the future, adaptation efforts should be monitored and analyzed to judge successes, problems, and unintended consequences. The report also calls for research to develop new adaptation options and a better understanding of vulnerabilities and impacts on smaller spatial scales.
Adaptation to climate change should not be seen as an alternative to attempts to limit it, the report emphasizes. Rather, the two approaches should be seen as partners, given that society's ability to cope with the impacts of climate change decreases as the severity of climate change increases. At moderate rates and levels of climate change, adaptation can be effective, but at severe rates, adapting to disturbances caused by climate change may not be possible, the report says.
Flexible and Adjustable
The new reports stress that national climate change research, efforts to limit emissions, and adaptation strategies should be designed to be flexible and responsive to new information and conditions in the coming decades. Because knowledge about future climate change and possible impacts will evolve, policies and programs should continually monitor and adjust to progress and consequences of actions.
America's Climate Choices also includes two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change will examine how to best provide decision makers information on climate change, and an overarching report will build on each of the previous reports and other work to offer a scientific framework for shaping the policy choices underlying the nation's efforts to confront climate change.
The project was requested by Congress and is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, visit http://americasclimatechoices.org. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter. Committee and panel members, who serve pro bono, are chosen by for each study based on their expertise and experience and must satisfy the Research Council's conflict-of-interest standards. The resulting consensus reports undergo external peer review before completion. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org/studycommitteprocess.pdf.
A National Climate Adaptation Summit will take place in Washington, DC on May 25-27. The goal of the Summit is to bring together about 150 invited users and providers of climate adaptation information from diverse climatological regions and economic sectors to provide insight into what is needed for effective climate adaptation and vulnerability assessment and how we should be organized to do that (public and private sectors -- federal to local levels). These insights will be incorporated into a broad range of federal climate adaptation planning efforts, including the planning of Climate Adaptation Task Force and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, as well as build on related reports.
The Summit will be a three day event held in the WDC region on 25-27 May. The Summit will have keynotes and panels open to broader participation and webcasting, but the primary focus1 of the Summit will be on breakout sessions involving the invited participants. The Summit is not intended to debate what climate change will and wonâ€™t look like. But, using the best available information about projected climate change and impacts, the breakout participants will be asked to examine what needs, knowledge, and roles must be addressed in the near-term and long-term so they can ensure their community has reliable access to water, food, energy, transportation, and health services, and would any of this change between the lower and higher greenhouse gas emissions scenarios? For more clarity, these needs, knowledge, and roles are defined as:
Needs. What incentives and barriers should be addressed to encourage and facilitate effective climate adaptation and vulnerability assessment (e.g., funding, policy, legal, regulatory, legislative, actuarial, infrastructure, building and other standards and codes, training, cultural, etc)? Of these, which are significant, which are urgent, and which, if altered, could provide the most substantial leverage?
Knowledge. What knowledge (e.g., scientific, technical, information, tools, procedures, best practices, advice, etc) is needed by public and private decision makers (federal, state, local, etc) to adapt to climate change and assess vulnerability? How do we assure this knowledge is responsive to their needs, actionable, and effectively used?
Roles. Who should provide this knowledge and leadership, how should it be delivered, and how should these providers be related to one another? What organizations, structures, and mechanisms might be needed for effectively communicating knowledge to action and vice versa?
On 22 June, 2010, the International Council for Science (ICSU), in cooperation with the International Social Science Council (ISSC), will host in Paris an Open Forum to explore institutional frameworks that could effectively and successfully support the research and delivery of the Grand Challenges in global sustainability research. This Open Forum is intended to provide a platform to facilitate exchange of information and perspectives.
ICSU cordially invite all stakeholders and interested parties to attend and contribute their insights. Please register early at www.icsu-visioning.org/open-forum-regis, so that we can confirm your registration. Only those who have received confirmation of their registration and bring photo ID (e.g., passport) will be allowed to enter UNESCO, where the meeting is being held.
The deadline for registration is 4 June, 2010
The themes to be discussed at this event will include:
Grand Challenges in global sustainability research
Possible institutional frameworks to support the Grand Challenges research
Please find attached (and also posted on the website) the tentative agenda. Â This will be finalised to take account of the expressed interests of those attending the meeting to ensure that all views can be heard and discussed.
All information on the Open Forum, including the logistics, can be found on the Visioning website at www.icsu-visioning.org/open-forum. Participants are expected to make their own travel and lodging arrangements; these costs will not be covered by the conference organizers.
Following the Open Forum, there will be a meeting between the co-sponsors of the four major global environmental change programmes (IOC, ISSC, IUBS, SCOPE, UNESCO, UNU, WMO), the four global environmental change programmes (DIVERSITAS, IGBP, IHDP, WCRP), ESSP and funding bodies. This 23-24 June meeting will be an invite-only event. Â However, the results of the Open Forum will be fed directly into this meeting.
This is an important milestone in the effort to improve the ways in which global sustainability research is organized and conducted. It is important that all those who have a stake in this endeavor are able to have their voices heard. The Open Forum is designed for precisely this purpose, but is not the only or the last opportunity to provide input. We are very much aware that not everyone is able to travel to Paris for this occasion. But ICSU, in cooperation with the ISSC, will continue to work hard and utilize a variety of tools, including online consultation, to listen to the views of all stakeholders throughout the process.
ACTION: This is an announcement of an opportunity to recommend experts to the U.S. Government for nomination as Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors, Contributing Authors and Review Editors for the Fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5).
SUMMARY: Governments, along with other stakeholder groups, relevant institutions, and United Nations agencies, have been invited to nominate experts to participate in the GEO-5 assessment. The Department of State is coordinating the recommendation of experts to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for GEO-5. The purpose of GEO-5 is to provide a comprehensive, integrated, and scientifically credible global environmental assessment to support decision-making processes at appropriate levels. Individuals may seek to nominate others (or themselves) directly on http://www.unep.org/geo/nominations/, or through the U.S. government. For those who wish to submit their nominations through the U.S. government, your nomination must be submitted to UNEP at the website above, and the nomination must also be received at the U.S. Department of State, Office of Environmental Policy, which is coordinating the U.S. Government nomination process, no later than May 12, 2010. The remainder of this announcement provides background information and describes how to submit recommendations.
The Global Environment Outlook is the primary assessment process of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which helps keep the global environment under review. It is a tool that informs decision-making, focusing on assessment priorities and analyzing policy challenges and opportunities to provide policy response options. It is also a communications tool that brings together diverse stakeholder groups, builds capacity and aims to raise awareness on the status and trends of the environment.
Experts are expected to have a thorough understanding in one or more of the following areas: environmental science; environment and development priorities, challenges and policy; and environmental management or governance. UNEP will select nominees by matching expertise to specific roles, paying due regard to disciplinary, gender and geographical balance. Details of the GEO-5 nominating process may be found online at http://www.unep.org/geo/nominations/ and http://www.globalchange.gov/globalenvironmentoutlook. To access the nominations form on the UNEP website, please use Username: geo5_2012 and Password: nominee. Nominations may be made on http://www.unep.org/geo/nominations/. For nominations to be considered within the U.S. Government nomination process, they must also be submitted to the United States Department of State. GEO-5 will review the nominations from all participating governments, individuals and organizations and make final decisions on nominees.
Selection as a U.S. Government nominee does not guarantee selection by GEO-5 itself. Participants in the GEO process volunteer their time. Nominated individuals should agree in advance to fulfill the role for which they are nominated, should they be selected to do so by GEO. Nomination by the U.S. Government to GEO-5 does not imply a commitment by the U.S. Government to provide financial support for participation.
UNEP may provide travel and subsistence costs for non-Federal participants if requested by the participant, subject to the availability of resources. Additional guidance on compensation of expenses and remuneration of services will be available on the UNEP website.
How to recommend experts
Refer to the GEO-5 website http://www.unep.org/geo/nominations/ for detailed background information on the 5th Assessment Report. To access the nominations form on the UNEP website, please use Username: geo5_2012 and Password: nominee. The document on GEO-5 nominations identifies the substantive areas covered in each of the chapters of the report. It is important to note that the time commitment required to carry out different roles in the GEO-5 process varies greatly.
Make sure that any of the experts that you wish to recommend are willing to serve in the role for which they are nominated.
Nominations to be considered within the U.S. Government nomination process must be submitted to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Environmental Policy no later than May 12, 2010. Complete the GEO-5 nomination form, one for each nominee, including an up-to-date CV, identification of the relevant chapters, and the role for which the individual is being nominated. Send this information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 12. Please note that partial nomination packages will not be considered.
What happens next?
In a process coordinated through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Office of Environmental Policy, technical experts and managers of relevant science and technology programs within the U.S. government will make and review recommendations and forward a slate of nominees to GEO-5 on the basis of their qualifications. Submission of a nomination to the State Department does not guarantee that the nomination will be forwarded by the U.S. Government to UNEP.
For further information
Richard Rosenman of the Office of Environmental Policy, U.S. Department of State, is serving as the coordinator of this nomination process. Mr. Rosenman can be reached at 1-202-647-1126, email email@example.com. Disclaimer: This Public Notice is a request for nominations, and is not a request for applications. No granting or money is directly associated with this request for suggestions for GEO-5. There is no expectation of U.S. Government resources or funding associated with any nominations.