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July 10 --  The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) seeks public comment (by August 10, 2020) on the proposed themes and framework of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), as indicated by the draft prospectus presented here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/10/2020-14904/request-for-comment-on-the-draft-prospectus-of-the-fifth-national-climate-assessment
 
NCA5 is expected to be published in 2023. Additional information on NCA5, including 2020-23 timeline, is available at: https://www.globalchange.gov/nca5
 
Based on input received from this FR notice, USGCRP will develop an annotated outline, which will be released for public comment at a later date. A call for author nominations and technical inputs will also be posted in one or more subsequent Federal Register Notices. In addition to the proposed themes and framework, this Federal Register Notice requests public comment on ways to make the assessment information accessible and useful to multiple audiences; specific types of detailed information on regional scales that would be most useful to stakeholders; how to best describe risks and impacts, as well as potential opportunities to reduce those risks and impacts on sectors of the economy and natural and social systems; new approaches to topics addressed in previous assessments; overarching themes that NCA5 should consider addressing; and other relevant topics.
 
USGCRP is mandated under the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990 to conduct a quadrennial National Climate Assessment (NCA). The most recent, NCA4, was completed in 2018 and delivered in two volumes: The Climate Science Special Report (CSSR, science2017.globalchange.gov) and Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States (NCA4, nca2018.globalchange.gov). In addition to the two volumes of NCA4, other recent assessments by the U.S. Government will inform NCA5, including the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2, carbon2018.globalchange.gov); the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States (health2016.globalchange.gov); and Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System (www.usda.gov/​oce/​climate_​change/​FoodSecurity.htm).
 
Overarching Themes for NCA5:

NCA5 will be GCRA compliant and will include a number of overarching themes and perspectives that respond to needs and gaps identified by NCA4. The following is a list of proposed themes for NCA5:  

○ Identification of advancements or improvements, relative to NCA4, in scientific understanding of human-induced and natural processes of global change and the resulting implications for the United States.
○ Identification of vulnerable populations for climate-related risks and potential impacts, a theme highlighted in multiple previous assessments.
○ Characterization of scientific uncertainties associated with key findings.
○ Characterization of current and future risks associated with global change with quantifiable metrics, such as indicators, where possible, and with the needs of multiple audiences in mind.
○ Emphasis on (1) near-term trends and projections that can inform adaptation needs; (2) long-term projections that are more scenario dependent; and (3) in some cases, timeframes past 2100, to be consistent with the GCRA and to indicate anticipated legacy effects of the human influence on the climate and oceans.

We seek comments on these proposed overarching themes, as well as suggestions for potential additional overarching themes.
 
Proposed Framework for NCA5:  

The proposed framework is presented here in five parts: (1) Introduction and context for NCA5; (2) foundational physical and biological science; (3) human health and welfare, societal, and environmental areas that are vulnerable to a changing climate; (4) regional and, where possible, sub-regional analyses within the United States; and (5) information needed to inform climate change adaptation, increased resiliency, and risk reduction. This framework presents the anticipated scope and content of NCA5; it is not an indicator of the final structure of the report. Public comments are sought on all aspects of this proposed framework.
 
Excerpts from framework elements that encompass economics:
 
1. Introduction and Context for NCA5 -- This content will describe the following:  
 
. . .  ○ Changing global and national conditions that influence (1) drivers of climate change, namely the activities that lead to emissions and atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gas concentrations; and (2) factors that affect resiliency and vulnerability, such as demographic and land-use changes, behavioral changes, advances in technology, and economic development.
○ The geographic scope (see Part 4) and the temporal scope (i.e., historic to the next 25 to 100 years).  
○ Risks to interconnected natural, built, and social systems, which are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts of global change that are often difficult to predict. For example, extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems, including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, and international trade.
 
3. Human Health and Welfare, Societal, and Environmental Vulnerabilities to a Changing Climate

The GCRA of 1990 requires that the NCA analyze “the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity.” NCA5 will provide national-level overviews of observed and potential effects and projected trends under a range of emissions scenarios in these key areas of concern for people and the environment, with supporting regional information, as described under Part 4.
 
4. Regional Analyses Within the United States

This section will describe regional-level perspectives for each of the areas identified in Part 3, allowing for discussion of topics of interest to each region.

The proposed regional analyses for NCA5 will follow the model developed for NCA4, which included the following regions of the United States: Northeast, Southeast, U.S. Caribbean, Midwest, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, and Hawai'i and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands (see nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/front-matter-guide/#fig-1). Areas of focus will vary across regions based on the availability of research and the regional identification of needs.

As appropriate and where available, the perspectives described in Part 4 will also highlight state-level information, as well as urban and rural case studies to showcase climate trends, potential risks, and resiliency planning with local specificity.

We seek public comment on the proposed regional breakout for NCA5, the level of detail to be provided at regional scales, sectors or topics to focus on within particular regions, and overarching themes that should inform the regional analyses of NCA5.

5. Information Needed To Support Climate Change Adaptation, Increased Resiliency, and Risk Reduction

Part 5 will identify needs and opportunities for adaptive measures and resiliency planning in the face of observed and projected changes in climate. NCA5 is not a policy document, and therefore will not evaluate policy measures, actions, instruments, or mechanisms to deliver or incentivize either adaptation or mitigation responses at any level of government. Rather, the intention of NCA5 is to inform the Nation, and different regions within the Nation, about near-term adaptation and resiliency needs over the next few decades that are likely to persist regardless of emissions pathway. Adaptation and resiliency needs and opportunities will be drawn from relevant information from Parts 2, 3, and 4 as outlined above, including evidence of successful measures, and discussed in the context of literature described below.

Review of the following is proposed for inclusion in Part 5:
○ Recent literature on economic impacts across sectors, regions, and levels of warming.
○ Recent literature on the potential for greenhouse gas emissions mitigation through natural and technological solutions.
○ Recent literature describing case studies (see Part 4), where relevant.
 
Point of contact: Chris Avery, NCA Chief of Staff, U.S. Global Change Research Program    https://www.globalchange.gov/staff/dr-chris-avery    (202) 419-3474   cavery@usgcrp.gov

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