Wednesday, March 9, 2011

CEQ Issues Instructions on Federal Agency Climate Change Adaptation Planning

On March 4th, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued instructions to implement recommendations of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. The instructions (available here) require all executive branch agencies to (a) establish, in accordance with criteria and a timetable set out in the instructions, climate change adaptation policies, (b) increase agency understanding of climatic changes, (c) apply understanding of climate change to their missions and operations, (d) develop, prioritize, and implement actions designed to improve agency capacity to assess and build resilience to climate-based risks, and (e) evaluate and share lessons with other agencies. These instructions are directly enforceable under the terms of Executive Order 13,514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance (see here).

This is a legitimate step forward, albeit a small one, toward a national climate policy. This move, along with the establishment of a social cost of carbon (see here), and the president's (unenacted and, therefore, unenforceable) commitment to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions 17% by 2020 (see here) do not make up for the failure to enact substantive climate legislation. But they are, at least, steps in the right direction.

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