The White House released the Fifth National Climate Assessment and warned that even though planet-warming pollution in the U.S. is slowly decreasing, it is not happening fast enough to meet the nation’s targets, nor is it in line with the UN-sanctioned goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – a threshold beyond which scientists warn life on Earth will struggle to cope.
Key Findings: Climate Impacts Across the U.S.
Some of the report’s sweeping conclusions remain familiar: No part of the U.S. is safe from climate disasters, and every fraction of warming leads to more intense, frequent, and costly impacts. White House officials and the report’s scientists emphasized there is no place immune from climate change, and this summer’s extreme weather was a stark reminder.
We’ve all seen the devastating toll of the changing climate in areas hit by historic hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. This summer presented historic heat records and had many environmental and non-governmental organizations considering naming heat waves in the future, like how we currently name tropical storms and hurricanes.
Economic Ramifications of a Changing Climate
Climate change increasingly imposes costs on Americans as prices rise for flood or other weather-related insurance and materials to repair damaged homes and structures. The report said medical expenses are also increasing as more people struggle with climate consequences like extreme heat.
Last year, natural disasters caused $178 billion in damages in the United States, often hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.
According to the report, economic impacts due to the changing climate are happening more frequently. They are evidenced by the 2023 record number of extreme weather disasters costing at least $1 billion. In addition, disaster experts have spent the last year warning the U.S. that it’s only beginning to see the economic fallout of the climate crisis.
What does the Fifth National Climate Assessment Say About Emissions?
The report explains that planet-warming pollution in the U.S. is declining but needs to be faster to stabilize the planet’s warming or meet the United States’ international climate commitments.
The country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions fell 12% between 2005 and 2019, primarily driven by the electricity sector moving away from coal and toward renewable energy and methane gas. However, the report finds that U.S. planet-warming emissions “remain substantial” and would need to decline by an average of 6% annually to align with the international 1.5-degree Celsius reduction goal.
The White House’s Call to Action and Policy Implications
Officials said the Fifth National Climate Assessment was the most comprehensive assessment yet on the state of climate change in the U.S. and announced more than $6 billion in funding for climate resilience projects, including bolstering the power grid and reducing flood risks.
State and local policymakers are encouraged to use the study’s findings to consider ways of adapting to the growing climate disruption, such as implementing mitigation and resilience strategies, redesigning sewer systems to drain water from flood-prone city streets, creating cooling centers in heat-vulnerable cities, or helping hospitals plan for likely increases in vector-borne diseases or the number of people affected by heat.
Contact our team today to learn how you can utilize this federal funding to implement resilient strategies to help your communities meet our nation’s goal to reduce climate impacts.