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  • Dr. John P. Holdren: Well, good afternoon everybody.

  • I'm John Holdren, President Obama's science

  • advisor and the Director of the White House Office

  • of Science and Technology Policy.

  • It's my honor to be able to welcome you all to the

  • White House and to launch this extraordinary event.

  • We're here, of course, to talk about the release

  • of the Third National Assessment

  • of Climate Change Impacts on the United States.

  • It exists.

  • This is the 20-page overview.

  • This is the 140-page highlights.

  • The 840-page whole document

  • is live on www.globalchange.gov and folks are invited

  • to go there but not while today's

  • speakers are talking.

  • The assessment that we're launching today

  • is distinguished by laying out with unprecedented

  • comprehensiveness, disaggregation detail

  • and clarity how the climate is changing across

  • the United States, disaggregated by eight geographic regions,

  • and also by various crucial

  • sectors of the economy.

  • Agriculture, fisheries, the oceans,

  • energy, and so on.

  • It basically is letting Americans know how climate

  • is changing where they work and live,

  • what impacts that is having on things they value,

  • and how this picture is expected to evolve going

  • forward and of course a very substantial emphasis

  • on what can be done about it.

  • We're providing what John Podesta

  • this morning earlier called "actionable science."

  • This is the theme.

  • The President has also emphasized information

  • that people can use to take appropriate action

  • to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and

  • to participate in the actions that reduce the emissions

  • that are driving climate change around the world.

  • I think that the findings of this extraordinary

  • report, about which we'll be saying

  • considerably more, are really the loudest alarm bell

  • to date signaling the need for urgent action

  • so that we can combat the threats and the risk

  • we face from global climate change in this country.

  • As I think you all know, President Obama

  • has long recognized the urgency of this challenge

  • and last June in a speech at Georgetown University

  • on a sweltering hot day, appropriately enough,

  • the President launched his Climate Action Plan.

  • Three-part plan cutting carbon pollution

  • in America, preparing our communities for changes

  • in climate that already are on-going, and leading

  • international efforts to address the challenge.

  • Now, almost a year later, a lot has happened

  • in executing on the commitments made

  • in the Climate Action Plan.

  • The President has directed the Environmental

  • Protection Agency and the Department

  • of Transportation to develop fuel economy

  • standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

  • Department of Interior has

  • announced its permitting of the 50th Renewable Energy Related

  • Project on federal lands during this administration.

  • The Department of Energy has issued

  • multiple new energy efficiency standards.

  • Department of Agriculture has announced

  • seven new climate hubs to help farmers and ranchers

  • adapt their operations to a changing climate.

  • The administration launched

  • in this room and not very long ago a Climate Data Initiative

  • bringing together extensive government

  • open data and design competitions

  • with strong commitments from the private and philanthropic

  • sectors in order to develop data-driven

  • planning and resilience tools for communities

  • and I should say that Climate Data Initiative

  • and the results of this extraordinary

  • study we're launching today are coming together.

  • All of the information that the study has

  • developed will be available

  • on the web again in user-friendly,

  • accessible forms to provide people with the

  • information they will need to reduce their vulnerability.

  • Of course, as you all know,

  • the President has instructed the Environmental Protection

  • Agency to develop standards both

  • for new power plants, which have already been

  • put out there, and soon there will be standards proposed

  • for discussion on existing power plants

  • and their emissions of heat-trapping gases.

  • So this is a lot of progress.

  • We also announced just a couple of months

  • ago a new strategy to reduce methane emissions

  • that involve characterizing and quantifying

  • the sources of methane emissions, committing to new

  • steps to cut the emissions of that

  • potent greenhouse gas, and outlining a set

  • of actions going forward to improve the measurements

  • so we can tell exactly how well we're doing.

  • That, I would say, is what progress is supposed

  • to look like and today's events around

  • this extraordinary assessment are another big step.

  • As I think probably everybody in the room

  • knows, a critical piece

  • of the President's Climate Action Plan is ensuring that

  • we continue our steady pace to strengthen

  • the science that informs and underpins the actions that

  • we take to address the threats from climate change and ensuring

  • that as we do that, we pursue the insights

  • and the information that are most immediately relevant and

  • useful to the people who need that information.

  • We're talking about the folks who, in some sense,

  • are on the front lines of climate change.

  • The coastal property owners, the farmers,

  • the fishermen, the city planners,

  • the water resource managers, and others whose livelihoods,

  • whose day-to-day decisions, and whose

  • longer-term planning needs to be informed

  • by the best data available.

  • Knowledge about what is happening today

  • in climate change, what's likely to come down the road,

  • and what can be done to reduce vulnerability.

  • And this assessment that we're releasing today,

  • as you might imagine from its extraordinary length --

  • 839-pages, I think, on the web --

  • is a virtual encyclopedia of that essential information.

  • The report was four-plus years in the making.

  • It was produced under the auspices

  • of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

  • 13 federal agencies and departments

  • involved in that.

  • Leadership came from NOAA and OSTP.

  • The heavy lifting

  • by a 60-person federal advisory committee.

  • Writing team included some 300 individuals.

  • I wouldn't even care to count the number

  • of reviewers in probably one of the most extensive

  • and transparent multi-stage review processes

  • in the history of government reports.

  • And that effort, that extraordinary effort

  • which included experts from government at all levels,

  • from academia, from business, from non-profits

  • has really produced this exceptionally detailed

  • disaggregated accounting of what climate change

  • is already doing in every geographic region

  • of the United States and the most effective

  • sectors of our economy.

  • The single most important bottom line that shines

  • through all these hundreds of pages

  • is that climate change is not a distant threat.

  • It is something that is happening now, it is

  • affecting the American people

  • now in important ways.

  • Summers, on the whole, are longer

  • and hotter with longer periods of extreme heat.

  • Wildfires in the west start earlier

  • in the spring and continue later in the fall.

  • Rain in many parts of the country is coming

  • down in deluges and heavier downpours.

  • People are experiencing changes

  • in the length and severity of seasonal allergies and climate

  • disruptions to agriculture and water resources

  • have been growing.

  • And, of course, again, key insight of this report:

  • it's not the same everywhere.

  • Climate change is not uniform.

  • It is having different impacts in different

  • parts of the country and that's why it's so important

  • that this study based on advancing science over

  • the past five years since the last one came

  • out has been able to disaggregate these

  • on-going and expected impacts regionally.

  • When President Obama launched his Climate

  • Action Plan, he made clear that the information

  • in this new climate assessment would

  • be used and it will be used to inform the efforts

  • at the federal, state, and local levels

  • to increase preparedness for and resilience against

  • the impacts of changes in climate that

  • can no longer be avoided.

  • And I think it's very important to say that

  • this report is not just a bad news story about

  • all the impacts that are happening.

  • It's a good news story about

  • the many opportunities to take cost-effective

  • actions to reduce the damages.

  • I want to acknowledge a number of folks,

  • including the stakeholders in this room, who have gathered

  • to hear about this and who will be crucial actors

  • going out and promoting, propagating,

  • and implementing the findings of this report.

  • We are grateful for all of your engagement,

  • but I do want to thank four key individuals without whom

  • this report would never have come to fruition.

  • Kathy Sullivan the Administrator of NOAA

  • and Under Secretary of Commerce whom you'll hear

  • from later in the program for NOAA's

  • key partnership in bringing this assessment to fruition,

  • and I should mention as well her predecessor

  • Jane Lubchenco who regrets that she couldn't

  • be here but I spoke with her last evening and she handed

  • the reins over to Kathy Sullivan from

  • Jane's earlier involvement from NOAA in this extraordinary

  • effort and again, without NOA's partnership support,

  • needless to say also money,

  • this study would not have been completed.

  • Jerry Mellilo the Chair of the National

  • Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee

  • affectionately called the NCADAC fac.

  • Jerry's leadership in this endeavor ensured rigor,

  • scientific integrity at every step of the way.

  • You'll hear from Jerry in a moment as well.

  • Cassie Jacobs who was the first executive director

  • of the assessment whose vision and dedication

  • really made this the most transparent national

  • climate assessment ever and who kept

  • the trains running on time for more than two years.

  • Cassie was a great contributor and then

  • Cassie's successor Fabian Loree

  • who seamlessly picked

  • up the ball and saw this report over the finish line

  • with dedication, focus, and competence.

  • I think to these folks and to the entire National

  • Climate Assessment team, the whole NCADAC fac,

  • the 300 authors, the even more numerous reviewers.

  • I think we owe them a big vote of thanks

  • and I want to lead that.

  • (applause)

  • Dr. John P. Holdren: And to the rest

  • of you who are here today

  • are partners at organizations

  • and institutions standing ready to disseminate

  • and communicate the findings of this report

  • and its message that we need to take action and

  • we can take action, I ask each of you here to absorb

  • the energy and enthusiasm that we're generating today,

  • carry it back, share it with

  • your constituencies, share it with your communities.

  • This is, in a sense, a new beginning of this effort

  • to reach out all across the country

  • and incentivize and organize the kinds

  • of actions we need.

  • Tell folks to visit globalchange.gov

  • to get informed about what climate is doing

  • in the regions where they live and work.

  • Ask them to share that information further

  • and invite them to share stories

  • about what they're doing, what their communities

  • are doing by using the hashtag #ActOnClimate.

  • Now, I will wrap up, strap on my Master of Ceremonies

  • hat, and proceed to the introduction

  • of the next speaker who is none other than Dr. Jerry Mellilo.

  • Jerry, I'm surprised to say given

  • the enormous amount of work he had to put in to help bring

  • this study over the finish line,

  • actually has a day job.