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Bullet policy · Oct 26, 2020

Work Begins on National Climate Report after Concerns over Delay

After public outcry over a months-long delay, the Trump Administration has moved ahead with the fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) by soliciting nominations for authors and technical input.

The National Climate Assessment report is congressionally mandated to be prepared every four years by scientists from 13 federal agencies. The fourth installment, which was published in 2018, was written by more than 300 authors, including Federal and State government scientists as well as scientists from the private sector. President Trump rejected the findings of the last assessment, which concluded that “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.”

E&E News reported earlier this month that the Trump Administration was holding up progress on the next report. Donald Wuebbles, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois and co-lead author on the first volume of the fourth National Climate Assessment, raised concerns that the Administration was late in issuing a call for authors for the report - a key step in the developing the assessment. “It’s not being approved to go out, so therefore they’re just sitting on it. And I don’t know if it’s [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] or the White House, but somebody’s sitting on it, so that’s just holding up getting up the NCA 5 going,” said Wuebbles.

2020 U.S. Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden also criticized the delay. “Climate change is already here, and ignoring science won’t make it go away,” stated Biden. “If we give the Trump Administration another four years, we’ll lose irreplaceable time to combat it.”

Following reports of concerns over the delay, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a Federal Register notice on October 15 on behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program seeking nominations for lead authors and researchers for the assessment. The report is now expected to be published in 2023, a year later than previously planned.

Author nominations and scientific/technical inputs for NCA5 must be submitted electronically by November 14, 2020 at https://www.globalchange.gov/notices. More information about this solicitation can be found at: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-10-15/html/2020-22729.htm