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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

New GAO Report Highlights U.S. Challenges to Adapt to Expected Global Warming Impacts

Report Says Most Areas of Country Have Not Yet Acted, But Examples of Success Exist

WASHINGTON (October 22, 2009) – A new report released today by the U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that the majority of federal, state and local officials have not yet taken steps to adapt to the impacts of global warming America can expect, even with deep cuts in carbon emissions. The report, "Climate Change Adaption," includes several case studies and examples of how federal, local, state and even international governments can effectively move forward to protect coastlines, infrastructure, and citizens from rising sea levels, intensifying storms, droughts, and other impacts from global warming.

The report, which was requested by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), coincides with a hearing on the topic of adaptation measures held today in Chairman Markey’s Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

"A robust answer to the threat of climate change includes preventing the worst impacts and preparing for the reality that global warming impacts are already occurring," said Chairman Markey. "If we are going to avoid the worst effects of global warming, we must pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. However, we also must prepare for the effects of global warming that will realistically occur."

The report is available on the GAO’s website here

The GAO authors surveyed nearly 200 officials knowledgeable about adaptation to climate change from federal, state and local government offices and agencies, including planners, scientists and public health officials. The survey showed that lack of funding for adaptation measures (83.8 percent of respondents) and the complexity of future impacts (76.7 percent of respondents) are "very or extremely challenging" barriers to addressing adaptation.

However, case studies in the report show that there are examples of effective local, state and international programs to reduce vulnerability from climate impacts. The report focused on the state of Maryland’s efforts to protect low-elevation habitat and infrastructure from future sea-level rise and storms; New York City’s integrated carbon-cutting and infrastructure-protecting campaign; King County, Washington’s plan to protect water systems and prevent flooding; and London’s tidal gates holding back storm surges in the River Thames.

The Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June, establishes a number of programs and services to encourage adaptation efforts. All told, the Waxman-Markey bill provides nearly $25 billion in the first ten years of the program towards adaptation efforts.

The bill would create a National Climate Change Adaptation Program within the U.S. Global Change Research Program and launch a National Climate Service within NOAA to develop and distribute climate information and forecasts to decision-makers and a Climate Change Adaptation Panel to promote interagency coordination on adaptation. The legislation requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services and federal agencies prepare adaptation plans. The bill also provides funding for adaptation efforts, including a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund that would provide support to states and federal agencies.

PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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