Climate change panel disbanded by Trump defies president to issue urgent guidance on flooding and wildfire threats

'Integrating climate science into everyday decisions is not just smart planning, it's an urgent necessity'

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Thursday 04 April 2019 14:24 BST
Donald Trump says he ‘doesn’t believe’ his own administration’s report on climate change

A group devoted to helping the US tackle climate change has released its first report since being officially disbanded by Donald Trump two years ago.

The Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment was set up as a panel of experts to prepare the nation for a future of rising sea levels and wildfires.

It was first appointed by former president Barack Obama to assist communities who wanted to adapt to the changing climate.

But Mr Trump – who has repeatedly expressed doubts about the existence of climate change – dismissed the panel after taking power in 2017.

Last year, with support from Columbia University, New York State and the American Meteorological Society, the committee reconvened, but swapped the word “federal” in its title to “independent”.

Announcing the move, the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo said: “In New York, we don’t believe denying climate change is a successful survival strategy and the work of this committee has never been more urgent”.

Now, the group is calling for action to update infrastructure, reduce wildfire risk and manage flooding, in a world in which global temperatures continue to soar.

Their newly compiled report also calls for a new network to guide state, local and Native American tribal governments on how to use climate science to change their communities for the better and cut emissions.

“We’re trying to produce something that adds value for those on the front lines of preparing their communities for climate change,” said Dr Richard Moss, chairman of the committee.

Their recommendations are largely based on the official National Climate Assessment, a report released by Mr Trump’s own administration last year that the president publicly announced he “doesn’t believe”.

In the past, Mr Trump has dismissed global warming as a “hoax” and more recently described the science underpinning it, which the vast majority of researchers agree with, as “fake”.

Reports in February suggested the administration was planning to set up another panel to reconsider the US government’s official position on climate change, including prominent sceptics who have questioned the scientific consensus.

The move by Dr Moss and his colleagues is the latest effort by local leaders to take action on global warming in defiance of their climate sceptic president.

California governor Jerry Brown has been a vocal critic of the president’s stance, calling him a “liar, criminal and fool” when it came to climate change, and pledging 100 per cent clean energy for his state by 2045.

The proposed Science to Climate Action Network would be independent of the federal government and would comprise experts from civil society and state, local, and tribal settings.

“We live in an era of climate change and yet many of our systems, codes and standards have not caught up,” said Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s chief climate policy advisor.

“Integrating climate science into everyday decisions is not just smart planning, it’s an urgent necessity.”

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