In President Barack Obama’s last full week before officially being a lame duck, his administration released the White House’s Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a guide to areas where the federal government has opportunities to address climate change.
The document — the culmination of eight years of federal work to address climate change — highlighted three areas where progress could continue to be made: Advancing and applying science-based information, technology, and tools to address climate risk; integrating climate resilience into federal agency missions, operations, and culture; and supporting community efforts to enhance climate resilience.
Some of the specific initiatives include requiring future design students to be taught to design for extreme weather events, using climate resilience as a determining factor in infrastructure decisions, and increased collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal governments in climate resiliency decisions.
“We have come a long way in understanding the effects of climate change, organizing communities, strengthening infrastructure, protecting our natural and cultural resources, developing technology, and planning for the future,” the conclusion of the report read. “Climate change impacts will continue to manifest for a long time to come, and we have more work to do to ensure that we prepare, we adapt, and we respond and recover quickly. Federal leadership remains important to understand climate change, to improve the resilience of its missions, operations, and programs that serve communities, and to support community efforts to enhance resilience.”
The report came out the week before an election that will determine federal climate change policies going forward and seemed to hint at the stark differences the two candidates.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has pledged to continue many of the Obama administration’s efforts on climate change and Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has denied the existence of climate change and has pledged to pull out of the international Paris climate change agreement.
Trump’s views have drawn widespread criticism in the international community, including rare criticism from the Chinese government this week.
Even without Congressional support, the Obama administration has made notable progress on climate change, including negotiating the landmark Paris Agreement and taking unprecedented executive action on the issue.