A valuable framework for making decisionsabout America’s climate choices is
iterative risk management
. This refers to a process of systemati-cally identifying risks and possible responseoptions, advancing a portfolio of actions thatemphasize risk reduction and are robust across arange of possible futures, and revising responsesover time to take advantage of new knowledge,information, and technological capabilities.
Components of an Effective NationalResponse
The America’s Climate Choices committeeoutlines the following main components of aneffective national response to climate change.
Substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to minimize the risks of climate changeand its most adverse impacts, the nation shouldreduce greenhouse gas emissions substantiallyover the coming decades. The exact magnitudeand speed of emissions reduction depends onsocietal judgments about how much risk is accept-able and at what cost. However, given the longlifetime associated with infrastructure for energy production and use (among other factors), the mosteffective strategy is to begin ramping downemissions as soon as possible.The most effective way to amplify and accel-erate current state, local, and private sector efforts,and to minimize overall costs of meeting a nationalemissions reduction target, is with a comprehen-sive, nationally-uniform price on CO
emissions,with a price trajectory sufcient to drive major investments in energy efciency and low-carbontechnologies. In addition, strategically-targetedcomplementary policies are needed to ensure progress in key areas of opportunity where marketfailures and institutional barriers can limit theeffectiveness of a carbon pricing system.
Begin mobilizing now for adaptation.
Prudentrisk management involves advanced planning todeal with possible adverse outcomes—known andunknown—by increasing the nation’s resilience to both gradual climate changes and abrupt disaster events. Effective adaptation will require the devel-opment of new tools and institutions to manageclimate-related risks across a broad range of sectorsand spatial scales. Adaptation decisions will bemade by state and local governments, the privatesector, and society at large, but those efforts will be much more effective with national-level coordi-nation, for instance, to share information andtechnical resources for evaluating vulnerabilityand adaptation options.
Invest in science, technology, and informationsystems.
Scientic research and technology devel-opment can expand the range, and improve theeffectiveness of, options to respond to climatechange. Systems for collecting and sharing informa-tion, including formal and informal education, canhelp ensure that climate-related decisions areinformed by the best available knowledge andanalyses, and can help us evaluate the effectivenessof actions taken.
Many actors are involved in suchefforts. For instance, technological innovation willdepend in large part on private sector efforts; whileinformation, education, and stakeholder engagementsystems can be advanced by non-governmentalorganizations and state/local governments, withsupport from the federal government.
Participate in international climate changeresponse efforts.
America’s climate choicesaffect and are affected by the choices madethroughout the world. U.S. emissions reductionsalone will not be adequate to avert dangerousclimate change risks, but strong U.S. efforts willenhance the nation’s ability to inuence other countries to do the same. Also, the United Statescan be greatly affected by impacts of climatechange occurring elsewhere in the world, so it isin the country’s interest to help enhance theadaptive capacity of other nations, particularlydeveloping countries that lack the needed resourcesand expertise. Effectively addressing climate
Climate models project that in the coming decades, NewYork City will experience more heavy rainfall events,which has signicant implications for key infrastructuresystems. On August 8, 2007, a major rainstorm caused asystem-wide outage of the subway during the morningrush hour. Such events may become more commonwithout innovative adaptation measures.