NCA Backgrounder and Talking Points


Framing the Third National Climate Assessment

The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) was released on May 6, 2014 by the White House. The assessment documents how climate change impacts regions and sectors across the United States, and how society is responding to climate change.

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires that a report must be presented to the President and the Congress every four years that gives a thorough overview of the status of climate science and climate change’s widespread impacts. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is conducted to meet this requirement.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates the assessment, but the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) is charged with producing the assessment. The NCADAC is a 60-member federal advisory committee made up of notable scientists, business leaders, and other experts.

The USGCRP is also mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. It integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society, and coordinates the assessment. USGCRP coordinates climate research from 13 federal agencies including the Department of Defense, The Department of Energy, NASA and more.

Talking Points

On the report’s findings and implications:  

  • Climate change is not just a problem for the future – it has moved firmly into the present.
  • Many Americans are already feeling the effects of increases in certain types of extreme weather and sea level rise that are fueled by climate change.
  • This Assessment is the most comprehensive analysis to date of how climate change is affecting our nation now and is projected to affect it in the future.
  • America has important opportunities to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and prepare for the effects of climate change.
  • Climate change is occurring more rapidly than previously expected.
  • These findings reflect the influence of climate change on the extreme weather we’re seeing in the United States and reveal how drought, flooding, and extreme storms will increase even further if carbon pollution is not controlled.
  • The costs of climate change are already high and will increase substantially if emissions are not controlled.
  • The assessment finds that climate change will strain our energy and water supplies and infrastructure.
  • The assessment also finds that climate change threatens Americans’ health.
  • The assessment’s findings are dire, but it also finds that we’re beginning to take positive steps to reduce the effects of climate change and prepare for a changed world.
  • But it cautions that emissions are continuing unchecked (higher than even the highest emissions scenario used to make projections in this assessment) and much more needs to be done.