WASHINGTON—UCLA Chancellor Emeritus Albert Carnesale today launched a two-day summit in Washington to gather information for a pioneering project on climate change, a study that will culminate in recommendations to Congress.
Carnesale, professor of public policy at UCLA, chairs America’s Climate Choices, a $5.9 million effort involving dozens of top scientists, public policy experts and business leaders.
Congress asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, working with the National Academy of Sciences, to create a committee that would "investigate and study the serious and sweeping issues relating to global climate change."
What makes the study significant, Carnesale said, is that Congress also asked for advice.
"Asking for actionable recommendations on what it is that should be done, what should be America’s response, as opposed to ‘help us understand what carbon dioxide is doing about climate change,'" Carnesale said, "that’s the part that’s different, asking for policy-relevant findings and recommendations."
The two-day summit brings in experts and leaders who are giving information to members of four panels that are tackling key questions the project will address.
"We want to hear from key decision makers, from people that have different perspectives, from people that might have different expertise, on what do you think needs to be done to address climate change," Carnesale said as the summit began.
Rep. Bart Gordon and Rep. Alan Mollohan talked about the importance of providing Congress with scientifically-based information, as well as information on new technologies. Gordon is a Tennessee Democrat and chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Mollohan is a West Virginia Democrat and chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who is Undersecretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said the Obama Administration will act on climate change by putting a "market-based cap" on carbon pollution.
James J. Mulva, chairman and chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips, said the study must consider how recommendations will impact industry. Scientists gave the latest information on changes seen as a result of climate change, and talked about the risks in delaying recommendations.
Carnesale is one of three faculty from UCLA who are involved in the undertaking. Law school professor Ann E. Carlson and professor-in-residence Mary Nichols are on a panel of experts targeting what can be done to limit the magnitude of future climate change. Carlson is faculty director of the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA. Nichols is chair of the California Air Resources Board. Before her appointment to that post, she was director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment.
America’s Climate Choices will issue a report in two years that includes findings, conclusions and recommendations. Each of the summit's four panels also will have its own report.
"It is not intended to be new research," Carnesale said. "It is intended to gather the information that we already have about climate change, explain what that is, and then provide advice and recommendations on what should be America’s response."
The Obama Administration includes several people who had been expected to serve on panels and committees that are part of the project, Carnesale said.
"So we have a ready audience to hear what we have to say," Carnesale said. "There’s no guarantee we will be heeded, but we know we will be heard."