Before President Obama's climate change announcement yesterday, U.S. and worldwide news reported on numerous climate change-related issues on an almost daily basis. An overview of recent climate change news includes:
- Resilient Communities for America Agreement – 45 U.S. mayors recently pledged to take action to protect their communities from disasters and disruptions caused by climate change. The campaign hopes to have leadership commitments from 200 local elected officials within 12 months and from 1,000 by 2015. Four organizations–U.S. Green Building Council, the National League of Cities, the World Wildlife Fund, and Local Governments for Sustainability–will coordinate the multi-year campaign. More information on the Resilient Communities for America Agreement is available at http://www.resilientamerica.org/.
- World Day to Combat Desertification – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon the international community to address the global threat from drought and water scarcity and advocated for more disaster preparedness. He noted that droughts are projected to become more widespread, intense and frequent as a result of climate change. More information on the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification is available at http://www.unccd.int/.
- Homeland Security/Critical Infrastructure – U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that climate change will be one of the factors to be considered in updates to its national plan for ensuring the security of critical infrastructure. First released in 2006, the National Infrastructure Protection Plan is a blueprint that guards infrastructure against terrorist attacks. Public comments on areas that need to be changed must be received by July 8. The DHS notice published June 6 is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-06/pdf/2013-13427.pdf.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Authority – In testimony before a congressional committee, the Corps Regulatory Chief Jennifer Moyer advised that the Corps lack authority to consider the climate impact of burning hundreds of millions of tons of U.S. coal in Asia in evaluating permits for coal export terminals. Opponents of coal exports and the proposed terminals want the Corps to conduct area wide EIS vs. the site specific EIS process, hoping for more analysis of indirect and cumulative impacts. Ms. Moyer's comments were made on June 18.
President Obama's new plan will foster even more discussion and commentary about climate change. While many continue to disagree about the causes, effects, consequences and timing of climate change impacts, President Obama's announcement this week will initiate a meaningful, national dialogue about climate change that will have repercussions around the world. We can expect even more news stories in the coming days, weeks and months as a result.