Washington DC – Today, in the first congressional hearing with authors of the Working Group II section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fourth assessment report, Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, the Science and Technology Committee was told that many different factors will determine the impacts of climate change and adaptation will play a significant role in reducing negative impacts.

“One issue that most of us agree on is that our country will experience impacts from climate change and we need to be ready to adapt to them,” Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) said.  “I have faith in American innovation in finding solutions to help us adapt to theses changes.  In the long run, the key to addressing climate change will be clean, affordable, and reliable energy technologies.”

The Working Group II section of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report was released on April 6, 2007 and assesses the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of vulnerability to climate change.  The report documents current impacts from climate change.  It also projects future impacts of climate change, given different scenarios of mitigation and adaptation efforts.  Both mitigation and adaptation are ways the world can cope with the negative impacts of climate change.  Mitigation refers to the reduction in greenhouse gas sources and enhancement of greenhouse gas sinks, while adaptation is the adjustments humans and natural systems will make to climatic changes.

One of the Working Group II authors, Dr. Shardul Agrawala, Visiting Research Scholar in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University, said that “Given these differences between mitigation and adaptation, climate policy is not about making a choice between adapting to and mitigating climate change.”  He concluded that, “Even the most stringent mitigation efforts cannot avoid further impacts of climate change in the next few decades, which makes adaptation essential, particularly in addressing near term impacts.”

The other authors of the IPCC Working Group II who testified at today’s hearing were:

Dr. Virginia Burkett, U.S. Geological Society Global Change Science Coordinator; Dr. William E. Easterling, Director of the Pennsylvania State University Institutes of the Environment; Dr. Roger Pulwarty, Research Associate at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Diagnostics Center; Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; and Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, Co-Director of the Center for Environmental Science and Policy and the Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University.