Obama Signs Executive Order Aimed at ‘Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change’

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to take a series of steps aimed at helping local communities “strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other impacts of climate change.”

“The impacts of climate change — including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise — are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation,” the executive order said.

The executive order, titled “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” added that “the Federal Government must build on recent progress and pursue new strategies to improve the Nation’s preparedness and resilience.”

U.S. President Barack Obama looks on during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki shakes in the Oval Office at the White House November 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

The executive order established a “Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience” composed of state and local leaders to advise the president on how the federal government can help communities facing “the impacts of climate change.”

The executive order comes one year after Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern shores of the U.S., devastating some local communities.

The task force builds on efforts Obama announced in June to combat global warming, including the first-ever limits on climate pollution from new and existing power plants. Obama’s plan is intended to reduce domestic carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020. The plan also would boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures. The 12 hottest years on record all have occurred in the past 15 years.

Obama’s plan would be put in place through executive order, bypassing Congress, which has stalemated over climate legislation in recent years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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