President Announces State, Local Climate Task Force

November 4, 2013

By Carolyn Berndt

Last week, as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, President Obama established a State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts. NLC Second Vice President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah is one of 16 local officials and eight governors to serve on the task force.

The task force will present written recommendations to the President on how the federal government should:

  • Remove barriers, create incentives and otherwise modernize federal programs to encourage investments, practices, and partnerships that prioritize resources and facilitate increased resilience to climate impacts, including those associated with extreme weather;
  • Provide useful climate preparedness tools and actionable information for states, local communities and tribes, including through interagency collaboration; and
  • Support state, local and tribal preparedness for resilience to climate change.

“I am honored to be selected by President Obama for this task force,” said Mayor Becker in a statement. “This is an incredibly important issue that affects communities in all corners of the nation and knows no policy affiliation. These issues of climate change adaptation and building resilient communities will require regional, state and federal efforts.  It is great to see President Obama working to coordinate these efforts.”

In addition to announcing the task force, Obama issued an Executive Order, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change” directing federal agencies to:

  • Modernize federal programs to support climate-resilient investments;
  • Manage lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience;
  • Provide information, data and tools for climate change preparedness and resilience; and
  • Plan for climate change related risk.

Climate adaptation and resilience have been priority topics for the NLC Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) Committee for the past several years. Working with several other policy committees, the EENR Committee has examined linkages among climate change adaptation (i.e. preparing for more extreme weather events, coastal sea rise, etc.), building resiliency, disaster mitigation efforts and the need to protect critical infrastructure, such as water, transportation and energy systems.

Additionally, NLC’s Sustainability Program, through the Sustainable Cities Institute, has been working to educate and provide city leaders and their staff with the best information, tools and resources to take informed and timely action on this issue.

These topics will be featured prominently at the upcoming Congress of Cities and Exposition in Seattle,  Nov. 13 - 16, 2013. The EENR Committee will be considering new policy language and a new resolution regarding climate change, adaptation, resilience and preparing for extreme weather events at its meeting on Nov. 13. Additionally, a workshop on “Extreme Weather Events and Adaptive Infrastructure” on Nov. 15 will explore innovative mitigation and adaptation strategies cities are using that lie at the heart of water, transportation and energy infrastructure, in order to better prepare for and respond to a changing climate.