The federal government has the responsibility to link to and participate in international efforts related to climate decision support. For example, it participates in developing measures and monitoring systems for climate vulnerabilities that can be applied globally to assess the potential consequences of climate change and the avoided costs from various mitigation and adaptation actions. It also develops methods and data for international efforts to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, climate-related events and their human consequences, and the effects of mitigation and adaptation activities.
Federal agencies can provide decision support services and products that serve a public good that would not otherwise be provided. Examples include the development of indicators for monitoring climate change and its impacts, national maps of vulnerabilities to climate change, valid and reliable methods for measuring carbon emissions and emissions avoided, and updated standards for the design of transportation infrastructure to withstand extreme climate-related events. Much research also provides important public goods. It is appropriate for the federal government to support research to provide information that is needed throughout the country for high-quality decision making about climate responses, as well as research on ways to provide decision support more effectively. Observational systems and human resource development are also public goods that federal agencies can help provide.
Federal actions can catalyze and facilitate decentralized decision support efforts in state and local governments and in nongovernmental organizations. This can be done, for example, by funding demonstration projects and facilitating communication and learning between activities in different parts of the country. We note that federal agency actions can also impede effective decentralized action. In developing our recommendations, we have attempted to be alert to this possibility and to propose approaches we consider likely to be facilitative.
Following this introductory chapter, Chapter 2 defines some key terms, including decision support and decision support products, services, and