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Pacifica California shoreline loss. Flickr

USA - U.S. EPA Seeking to Focus on Climate Mitigation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing adding mitigating climate change to its national focus over the next four years.

The EPA on Thursday announced it’s considering adding environmental justice, climate change, and PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, human-made chemicals used in a range of consumer and industrial products) contamination to its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives for 2024-2027.

Every four years, the EPA selects national initiatives to focus resources on “serious and widespread environmental problems where federal enforcement can make a difference.” The objective is to protect human health and the environment by holding polluters accountable through enforcement and assisting entities in becoming compliant.

The EPA it is seeking public comment on its proposal during a 60-day comment period. The EPA is also proposing to continue the following current NECIs in the coming four-year cycle:

  • Creating cleaner air for communities by reducing excess emissions of harmful pollutants.
  • Reducing risks of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities.
  • Reducing significant non-compliance in the national pollutant discharge elimination system (program.
  • Reducing non-compliance with drinking water standards at community water systems.

Infectious Disease

Climate change is adding to a growing infectious disease burden, according to the World Economic Forum.

Measles cases globally spiked by 79% in the first two months of 2022, and in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, an outbreak of diphtheria saw nearly 8,000 people infected in 2018, the organization wrote this week, calling for coordinated action to address the issue.

Despite medical, scientific and sanitation advances, there is an increased potential for infectious diseases to spread.

“Climate change – which is not just an environmental emergency, but a public health one too – is meeting existing drivers such as globalization, urbanization and inequality to fuel the transmission of disease,” the organization wrote. “New pathogens are emerging and existing ones are coming back to haunt us.”

Climate change is sending the world “headlong into another health crisis,” the organization wrote.

Climate change is contributing to the emergence of new diseases and exacerbating existing ones, such as tuberculosis, which has been shown to be a climate-sensitive disease, while Malaria may also be affected by a warmer climate that is likely to favor the spread of malaria-bearing mosquitoes, according to the World Economic Forum.

Disruptive Weather and Insurers

Scientists say if the trends of more frequent and disruptive weather events due to impacts of climate change continue, the high damage costs could continue to affect insurers across the world for years to come.

That’s from a recent article by Insurance Journal reporter Allen Laman, who covered a joint NASA and NOAA webinar earlier this month.

The data presented during the event showed that 2022 was among the warmest years recorded since the late 19th century, which continues a trend that has shown gradual global temperature warming in recent decades.

“These frequent and increasingly costly extreme events have human consequences and pack an economic punch,” Sarah Kapnick, chief scientist for NOAA, said during the presentation.

According to Kapnick, the U.S. had its third-costliest year for weather and climate-related disasters on record, exceeding $165 billion in damage.

Kapnick explained the U.S. consistently has both the highest total count and the largest diversity of different types of weather and climate extremes that lead to billion-dollar disasters.

She said that is generally due to two factors.

“One, a high instance of many extremes where both exposure and vulnerability are high for inducing damage,” Kapnick said. “And two, climate change is enhancing certain types of extremes that may lead to billion-dollar disasters.”

NOAA awards

NOAA announced a $20.5 million award for the coordinated management of ocean and coastal resources around the country, including funding to encourage weather data sharing.

The recommended federal funds are expected to improve collaboration between states, tribal governments and the federal government.

The awards will support projects to advance regional ocean partnerships and data sharing among ocean users. Regional ocean partnerships are regional organizations convened by governors to work across multiple states in coordination with federal and tribal governments, on shared priorities and challenges.

A total of 13 awards were distributed to tribes and partners:

  • $15.7 million went to four existing regional ocean partnerships to address increasing ocean uses, support sustainability, track climate impacts on shifting ecosystems and enhance regional capacity for sharing and integrating federal and non-federal ocean and coastal data.
  • $1.1 million will go to four federally recognized tribes or tribal organizations to support tribal actions related to regional ocean and coastal priorities.
  • $3.7 million went to five U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System regional associations to enhance regional capacity for sharing data and better integration of federal and non-federal data in regions without existing regional ocean partnerships. Funding will also help build new information portals to facilitate data access and data products that support regional coastal, ocean and Great Lakes management priorities.

“This recommended funding allows communities to better plan for future changes as we build a Climate-Ready Nation,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “NOAA values the contributions of all partners to better understand and manage climate-related risks.”

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