NRC Reports: United States Should Act Now to Cut Greenhouse Gases
June 2, 2010
The United States should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, according to three new reports from the National Research Council (NRC). The three new NRC reports, issued on May 19, examine the science of climate change, ways to limit future climate change, and ways to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The first report finds that multiple lines of evidence support the scientific understanding of climate change, and it concludes that climate change is occurring, is largely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. The report also notes that many climate change impacts are already evident.
The second report concludes that limiting emissions must be a global effort, but strong U.S. actions could encourage other nations to follow. The report recommends a U.S. emissions budget of the equivalent of 170-200 gigatons of carbon dioxide emitted from 2012 through 2050. That averages out to 5.26 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year, while the nation emitted the equivalent of about 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2008. The report also finds that a carbon pricing system is the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The third report notes the ongoing climate change impacts on the United States and recommends a national adaptation strategy to help respond to these impacts. The report emphasizes that actions to limit climate change and actions to adapt to it should not be seen as separate alternatives, but rather partners that work together to respond to the problem. Two additional reports will be issued later this year. See the National Academies press release and the special Web site for the reports, America's Climate Choices.