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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