Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change

America’s Climate Choices: Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change America’s Climate Choices: Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies

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T HE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS • 500 Fifth Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special compe- tences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under contract number DG133R08CQ0062. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-14594-7 (Book) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-14594-5 (Book) International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-14595-4 (PDF) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-14595-3 (PDF) Library of Congress Control Number: 2010940140 Copies of this report are available from the program office: Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3512 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Cover images: Far left: © City of Palo Alto Middle left: courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration Middle right: Photo by Scott Bauer courtesy of National Wildlife Refuge Far right: courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distin- guished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to se- cure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and educa- tion. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of fur- thering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing ser- vices to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.or g

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AMERICA’S CLIMATE CHOICES: PANEL ON INFORMING EFFECTIVE DECISIONS AND ACTIONS RELATED TO CLIMATE CHANGE DIANA LIVERMAN (Co-Chair), University of Arizona, Tucson and Oxford University, United Kingdom. PETER RAVEN (Co-Chair), Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis DANIEL BARSTOW, Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Alexandria, Virginia ROSINA M. BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor DANIEL W. BROMLEY, University of Wisconsin-Madison ANTHONY LEISEROWITZ, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut ROBERT J. LEMPERT, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California JIM LOPEZ,* Department of Housing and Urban Development EDWARD L. MILES, University of Washington, Seattle BERRIEN MOORE, III, Climate Central, Princeton, New Jersey MARK D. NEWTON, Dell, Inc., Round Rock, Texas VENKATACHALAM RAMASWAMY, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey RICHARD RICHELS, Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., Washington, D.C. DOUGLAS P. SCOTT, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Springfield KATHLEEN J. TIERNEY, University of Colorado at Boulder CHRIS WALKER, The Carbon Trust LLC, New York, New York SHARI T. WILSON, Maryland Department of the Environment, Baltimore NRC Staff MARTHA McCONNELL, Study Director LAUREN M. BROWN, Research Associate RICARDO PAYNE, Program Assistant DAVID REIDMILLER, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Fellow *Asterisks denote members who resigned during the study process. 

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Foreword: About America’s Climate Choices C onvened by the National Research Council in response to a request from Congress (P.L. 110-161), America’s Climate Choices is a suite of five coordinated activities designed to study the serious and sweeping issues associated with global climate change, including the science and technology challenges involved, and to provide advice on the most effective steps and most promising strategies that can be taken to respond. The Committee on America’s Climate Choices is responsible for providing overall direction, coordination, and integration of the America’s Climate Choices suite of activi- ties and ensuring that these activities provide well-supported, action-oriented, and useful advice to the nation. The committee convened a Summit on America’s Climate Choices on March 30-31, 2009, to help frame the study and provide an opportunity for high-level input on key issues. The committee is also charged with writing a final re- port that builds on four panel reports and other sources to answer the following four overarching questions: • What short-term actions can be taken to respond effectively to climate change? • What promising long-term strategies, investments, and opportunities could be pursued to respond to climate change? • What are the major scientific and technological advances needed to better understand and respond to climate change? • What are the major impediments (e.g., practical, institutional, economic, ethi- cal, intergenerational, etc.) to responding effectively to climate change, and what can be done to overcome these impediments? The Panel on Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change was charged to describe, analyze, and assess strategies for reducing the net future human influence on climate. The panel’s report focuses on actions to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions and other human drivers of climate change, such as changes in land use, but also considers the international dimensions of limiting climate change. The Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change was charged to describe, analyze, and assess actions and strategies to reduce vulnerability; increase adaptive ii

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FOREWORD capacity; improve resiliency; and promote successful adaptation to climate change in different regions, sectors, systems, and populations. The panel’s report draws on a wide range of sources and case studies to identify lessons learned from past experiences, promising current approaches, and potential new directions. The Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change was charged to provide a concise overview of past, present, and future climate change, including its causes and its impacts, and to recommend steps to advance our current understanding, including new observations, research programs, next-generation models, and the physical and human assets needed to support these and other activities. The panel’s report focuses on the scientific advances needed both to improve our understanding of the intergrated-cli- mate system and to devise more effective responses to climate change. The Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change was charged to describe and assess different activities, products, strategies, and tools for informing decision makers about climate change and helping them plan and execute effective, integrated responses. This report describes the different types of climate change-related decisions and actions being taken at various levels and in dif- ferent sectors and regions; and it develops a framework, tools, and practical advice for ensuring that the best available technical knowledge about climate change is used to inform these decisions and actions. America’s Climate Choices builds on an extensive foundation of previous and ongoing work, including National Research Council reports, assessments from other national and international organizations, the current scientific literature, climate action plans by various entities, and other sources. More than a dozen boards and standing com- mittees of the National Research Council were involved in developing the study, and many additional groups and individuals provided additional input during the study process. Outside viewpoints were also obtained via public events and workshops (including the Summit), invited presentations at committee and panel meetings, and comments received through the study website, http://americasclimatechoices.org. Collectively, the America’s Climate Choices suite of activities involve more than 90 volun- teers from a range of communities including academia, various levels of government, business and industry, other nongovernmental organizations, and the international community. Responsibility for the final content of each report rests solely with the authoring panel and the National Research Council. However, the development of each report inluded input from and interactions with members of all five study groups; the membership of each group is listed in Appendix E. iii

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Preface H ow can America make more informed decisions about climate change? This was the question asked of the Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change. We were challenged to identify the op- portunities and challenges associated with informing effective decisions and actions, including the different activities, products, strategies, and tools for informing decision makers about climate change and helping them plan and execute effective, integrated responses. We were asked to describe the different types of climate change-related decisions and actions being taken at various levels and in different sectors and regions and to review frameworks and tools for ensuring that the best available technical knowledge about climate change is used to inform these decisions and actions. Our first challenge was to decide how to set the limits of our panel report given the broad statement of task, the limited time, and the potential for overlap with the work of the three other America’s Climate Choices panels. We also took into account input received during the public discussion of the study, especially suggestions about the significance of looking at decision makers beyond the Federal government and about the importance of communication and education. We soon recognized that an in- formed and effective national response to climate change requires that the widest possible range of decisions makers—public and private, national and local—have ac- cess to up-to-date and reliable information about current and future climate change, the impacts of such changes, the vulnerability to these changes, and the response strategies for reducing emissions and implementing adaptation. We also acknowl- edged the importance of information that is needed to assess whether the decisions or responses are successful or should be revised. We began our work with reflections about America’s ability to face grand and com- plex challenges in the past, where a record of success and learning from experience provided us with an optimistic start to thinking about informing climate choices. We then examined the decisions and actions that have already been taken in relation to climate, who was making the decisions, and what tools and information they were using or lacking. Responding to our task statement we then turned to an assessment of frameworks and tools for making climate-related decisions and identified two key types of information services that are needed in making decisions about climate change: (1) information about climate, climate impacts, and adaptation, and (2) infor- mation about greenhouse gas emissions and their management. We recognized that ix

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P R E FA C E America needs good international information for effective decisions and can play an important role in maintaining international observational and research activities. Finally we decided to assess what is known about public understanding of climate and the ways in which climate knowledge is communicated and incorporated in formal and informal education systems. We tried as much as possible to maintain a “user” perspective: Is the right information available and accessible for the different types of decisions that people are making? Where is there potential for confusion? How can information services be designed so as to allow monitoring and assessment of climate and climate policy so that we can understand what is happening, evaluate the effec- tiveness of policies, and make adjustments to increase the effectiveness of decisions? We were fortunate that our panel included representatives from many different groups, including federal, state, and local government, universities, the private sector, physical and social scientists, and several individuals who have long experience of decision making about climate in a variety of different roles, including international and non-governmental organizations. We believe that this diverse panel reflects the range of actors involved in decision making about climate, but we also invited several people to meet with the panel to share their insights and answer our questions. We are grateful to these speakers: Eric Barron, Mary Nicholls, Ted Nordhaus, Jeff Seabright, Alex Perera, Amanda Staudt, Mark Way, Andrew Castaldi, Michael Liffmann, Brad Udall, Louie Tupas, and Chet Koblinsky. We also relied on a number of previous National Research Council reports that focused on decision making about climate and many of our findings and recommendations echo, reemphasize, and build on those of previous panels and committees. Several members of other panels and the main committee were helpful in defining areas of overlap and providing information in their areas of expertise, especially Kathy Jacobs, Jim Geringer, and Tom Karl. We are especially grate- ful to Adam Bumpus for his assistance with Chapters 2 and 6. The study was conducted during a period when climate issues and climate policy were being debated and developed at all levels of government, and our time frame for the report included pivotal negotiations at the international level in Copenhagen, several climate-related bills in Congress, proposals for new approaches to climate services in Federal agencies, state actions to limit emissions and set up greenhouse gas trading, swings in public support for climate policy, and some major private sector actors moving to incorporate climate risks into their investments and decisions. This posed challenges for the panel, as it sometimes seemed as though the world was rac- ing ahead of our cautious deliberations. This is one reason why we have avoided, for the most part, focusing on specific recommendations, and have chosen to emphasize the frameworks, information, and criteria that can be used to inform and evaluate deci- sions, whatever those decisions may be. x

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Preface We extend our gratitude to the staff at the National Research Council. We are espe- cially grateful to our study director, Martha McConnell, who was able to maintain a positive attitude and enthusiasm in spite of our time limitations, the challenges in bounding our task and in liaising with other panels, and coordinating a large commit- tee of talented but very busy members. Martha was assisted in all aspects of her work by Lauren Brown. David Reidmiller, Joe Casola, Paul Stern, and Michael Craghan also assisted at times during the study process. We also want to acknowledge the director of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Chris Elfring, who engaged often with our panel to provide advice and coordination with other panels. Diana Liverman (Co-Chair) Peter Raven (Co-Chair) xi

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Acknowledgments T his report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following indi- viduals for their participation in their review of this report: CHRIS WEST, UK Climate Impacts of Programme, Oxford ROSS ANDERSON, High Roads for Human Rights, Salt Lake City, Utah NED FARQUHAR, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land and Minerals Management, Washington, D.C. CHARLES O. HOLLIDAY JR., Bank of America, Washington, D.C. KIRSTEN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia KAI LEE, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, California PETER GOLDMARK, Environmental Defense Fund, New York, New York BONNIE VAN DORN, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Washington, D.C. MICHELE BETSILL, Colorado State University, Fort Collins F. STUART CHAPIN III, University of Alaska, Fairbanks STEPHEN SCHNEIDER, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California CHARLES REDMAN, Arizona State University, Tempe ELTON SHERWIN, Ridgewood Capital, Palo Alto, California HADI DOWLATABADI, University of British Columbia, Vancouver CARLO C. JAEGER, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by M. Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University, and Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were respon- sible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were xiii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Institutional oversight for this project was provided by: BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR. (Chair), University of Maryland, College Park ROSINA M. BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor RICHARD CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado WALTER F. DABBERDT, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, Colorado KIRSTIN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia GREG S. FORBES, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia ISAAC HELD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey ARTHUR LEE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California RAYMOND T. PIERREHUMBERT, University of Chicago, Illinois KIMBERLY PRATHER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California KIRK R. SMITH, University of California, Berkeley JOHN T. SNOW, University of Oklahoma, Norman THOMAS H. VONDER HAAR, Colorado State University/CIRA, Fort Collins XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona, Tucson Ex Officio Members GERALD A. MEEHL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer IAN KRAUCUNAS, Senior Program Officer MARTHA McCONNELL, Program Officer MAGGIE WALSER, Associate Program Officer TOBY WARDEN, Associate Program Officer JOE CASOLA, Post-Doctoral Researcher RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator xi

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Acknowledgments KATIE WELLER, Research Associate LAUREN M. BROWN, Research Associate ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant JANEISE STURDIVANT, Program Assistant RICARDO PAYNE, Program Assistant SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate x

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 19 The Challenge of Climate Change, 20 Decision Makers, Their Information Needs, and the Challenge of Resource Allocation, 25 Barriers to Effective Decision Making, 29 The Scope and Purpose of This Report, 42 Organization of This Report, 44 2 MANY DIFFERENT DECISION MAKERS ARE MAKING CHOICES TO RESPOND TO CLIMATE CHANGE 47 States, Cities, and Local Governments, 49 Business Sector, 59 Non-governmental Organizations, 72 Federal Government, 73 The Law and Climate Change, 84 Conclusions and Recommendations, 86 3 DECISION FRAMEWORKS FOR EFFECTIVE RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE 91 Why Responding to Climate Change Needs a Decision Framework, 93 Other Ways of Making Decisions, 97 Fundamental Elements of a Risk Management Framework, 103 The Utility of Adaptive Governance in Decision Making About Climate Change, 117 Conclusions and Recommendations, 121 4 RESOURCES FOR EFFECTIVE CLIMATE DECISIONS 123 Whose Decisions? Which Resources?, 125 Decision Support Tools: Their Characteristics and Uses, 130 Understanding Impacts and Informing Adaptation Decisions, 150 Understanding the Value of Information for Resource Allocation, 153 Assessments as Tools for Climate-Related Decision Making, 161 Conclusions and Recommendations, 164 xii

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CONTENTS 5 CLIMATE SERVICES: INFORMING AMERICA ABOUT CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND CHANGE, IMPACTS, AND RESPONSE OPTIONS 167 The Need for Climate Services, 170 Potential Functions of Climate Services, 178 Recommendations from Prior Reports, 185 Institutional Considerations, 189 Goals for Climate Services Operation, 197 Metrics for Evaluating Performance of Climate Services, 201 Conclusions and Recommendations, 201 6 INFORMING GREENHOUSE GAS MANAGEMENT 205 Greenhouse Gas Accounting Systems, 205 Information on Emissions and Energy Use and the Public Response to Climate Change, 222 Institutional Options for Informed Greenhouse Gas Management, 229 Competition and Equity Considerations, 230 Conclusions and Recommendations, 231 7 INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION NEEDS 235 Economic and Market Couplings, 235 Shared Resources and Ecological Services, 237 Human Health, 239 Humanitarian Reasons, 239 National Security, 241 Ways Forward, 242 Conclusions and Recommendations, 249 8 EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION 251 K-12, Higher Education, and Informal Science Education, 252 The General Public, 258 Communication and Education for Decision Makers, 274 Conclusions and Recommendations, 276 REFERENCES 283 xiii

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Contents APPENDIxES A Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change: Statement of Task, 301 B The American Experience with Complex Decisions: Past Examples, 303 C Comparison of CO2 Emissions for States Versus National, United States, in 1999 and 2000, 311 D State Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets and Baselines, 313 E America’s Climate Choices: Membership Lists, 315 F Panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions Related to Climate Change: Biographical Sketches, 319 xix

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