frameworks and tools to inform these decisions and actions. The panel focused this charge by asking the following questions:

  1. Who is making decisions and taking action on climate change in the United States? What are their needs for information and decision support, and what are the barriers to good decisions?

  2. What decision making frameworks and methods are being used, and which are the most effective?

  3. How might climate and greenhouse gas information systems and services support more effective decisions and actions?

  4. What is known about the most effective ways to communicate about climate change, especially with the public and through formal and informal education?

The panel coordinated with the other ACC panels and notes that many of the findings of the companion reports are consistent with the independent findings of our panel. For example, the reports Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change (NRC, 2010d) and Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (NRC, 2010a) highlight the importance and leadership of local and state governments and the private sector in reducing GHG emissions and adapting to climate impacts. The reports Advancing the Science of Climate Change (NRC, 2010b) and Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (NRC, 2010a) recommend a risk management approach to respond to climate change. Collectively, these reports conclude that there is strong, credible, scientific evidence that climate change is happening and is caused largely by human activities, and provide a number of options to limit emissions and adapt to the impacts.

An effective national response to climate change will require informed decision making based on reliable, understandable, and timely climate-related information tailored to user needs. For example, state and local authorities need improved information and tools to plan to both reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and a better understanding of how the public views climate change. Private firms who plan to disclose climate risks need standardized methods of reporting and better information about how climate impacts, policy, and consumer concerns are changing. Educators and organizations seeking to communicate about climate change need more accessible and reliable information about climate, guidelines for effective communication, and information about helpful networks.

Good information systems and services are essential to effectively and iteratively manage climate risks. They help decision makers evaluate whether particular policies and actions are achieving their goals or should be modified and underpin the effective communication of climate change choices to Congress, students, and the public.

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