of the energy system and long lifetime associated with most infrastructure for energy production and use, it is the committee’s judgment that the most effective strategy is to begin ramping down emissions as soon as possible.
Emission reductions can be achieved in part through expanding current local, state, and regional-level efforts, but analyses suggest that the best way to amplify and accelerate such efforts, and to minimize overall costs (for any given national emissions reduction target), is with a comprehensive, nationally uniform, increasing price on CO21 emissions, with a price trajectory sufficient to drive major investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. In addition, strategically-targeted complementary policies are needed to ensure progress in key areas of opportunity where market failures and institutional barriers can limit the effectiveness of a carbon pricing system.
Begin mobilizing now for adaptation. Aggressive emissions reductions would reduce the need for adaptation, but not eliminate it. Climate change is already happening, and additional changes can be expected for all plausible scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions. Prudent risk management demands advanced planning to deal with possible adverse outcomes—known and unknown—by increasing the nation’s resilience to both gradual changes and the possibility of abrupt disaster events. Effective adaptation will require the development of new tools and institutions to manage climate-related risks across a broad range of sectors and spatial scales. Adaptation decisions will be made and implemented by actors in state and local governments, the private sector, and society at large, but there is also a need for national-level efforts—for instance, to share information and technical resources for evaluating vulnerability and adaptation options, and to develop and implement adaptation plans within the federal agencies and their relevant programs.
RECOMMENDATION 2: Adaptation planning and implementation should be initiated at all levels of society. The federal government, in collaboration with other levels of government and with other stakeholders, should immediately undertake the development of a national adaptation strategy and build durable institutions to implement that strategy and improve it over time.
Invest in science, technology, and information systems. Scientific research and technology development can expand the range, and improve the effectiveness of, options to respond to climate change. Systems for collecting and sharing information, including formal and informal education systems, can help ensure that climate-related decisions are informed by the best available knowledge and analysis, and can help us