Thursday, July 9, 2009

Waxman-Markey: Addressing unavoidable biological impacts of climate change

Some of the impacts of climate change are already with us, and others will be upon us before even a global climate change initiative can begin ratcheting down greenhouse gases.

The Waxman-Markey energy bill makes a number of proposals for how to deal with unavoidable impacts.

This is the eighth RaisingIslands post on the details of the big energy bill, which is now under consideration in the U.S. Senate. The House version of the bill, which passed narrowly last month, is alternatively called Waxman-Markey, HR2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, or ACES.

Its final major sections deal with adaptation to the impacts of climate change. It commits that the United States will “use all practicable means and measures to protect, restore, and conserve natural resources to enable them to become more resilient, adapt to, and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.”

It calls for the development of a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, which may involve the protection and restoration of ecosystems, and may include such devices as wildlife “corridors” to let impacted species move unimpeded from climate-degraded habitats to ones where they can survive.

States would develop their own adaptation strategies as well. Coastal states like Hawai'i will have special responsibilities to look at ways to deal with eroding shorelines, the impacts of ocean acidification, habitat loss, algal blooms and a range of other impacts.

The states would fund these programs through emission allowances provided by the federal government. (See previous posts on Waxman-Markey for more on emission allowances.)

The bill recognizes threats to natural resources, but also sees the potential of international problems as a result of climate change.

“Global climate change is a potentially significant national and global security threat multiplier and is likely to exacerbate competition and conflict over agricultural, vegetative, marine, and water resources and to result in increased displacement of people, poverty, and hunger within developing countries,” the bill says.

Waxman-Markey commits the United States to provides assistance to the most seriously impacted developing countries.

This is the final post in a review of Waxman-Markey. RaisingIslands next will post an even more concise single-article review of the key features of the legislation.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

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