Warning that the risk of climate change impacts is growing with every ton of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted into the atmosphere, a National Research Council (NRC) committee reiterated the need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts.
Options on how to respond to climate change are analyzed in a new report, which is the final volume in America's Climate Choices, a series of studies requested by Congress. The committee that authored the report includes scientists, engineer, economists, business leaders and policy experts.
The most efficient way to accelerate emissions reductions is through a nationally uniform price on GHGs, with a price trajectory sufficient to spur investments in energy-efficiency and low-carbon technologies, according to the committee.
While it recognized that climate change is inherently a global issue requiring an international response, the committee focused on the charge from Congress to identify steps and strategies that U.S. decision-makers could adopt now.
A coordinated national response to climate change, which the country currently lacks, is needed and should be guided by an iterative risk-management framework in which actions taken can be revised as new knowledge is gained, the committee says.
State and local efforts currently under way or being initiated to reduce GHG emissions are potentially quite significant but unlikely to yield outcomes comparable to what could be achieved with a strong federal effort, according to the committee.
However, because emissions reductions in the U.S. alone will not be adequate to avert climate-change risks, U.S. leadership needs to remain actively engaged in international climate-change response efforts, the committee emphasized, the committee says, adding that if the U.S. pursues strong emissions-reduction efforts, it will be better positioned to influence other countries to do the same.
The America's Climate Choices studies were sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.