Obama pledges $1 billion to prepare Americans for future climate impacts like California drought
- 18 February 2014
NEW YORK: As California deals with one of its worst droughts in recorded history, US President Obama has announced a US$1 billion fund in his 2015 budget to prepare communities for climate change.
Obama announced the fund during a tour of California, a state that is currently battling with its worst drought in more than 100 years.
California is the biggest agricultural producer in America, so the drought's impact on farming and energy industries is creating huge economic losses.
As well as assisting the Californian farmers, ranchers, businesses and neighborhoods affected by the drought with separate funds, Obama announced the new US$1 billion Climate Resilience Fund to help communities prepare for other extreme weather events the future may hold.
In his remarks during the California visit, Obama said: "The planet is slowly going to keep warming for a long time to come. So we’re going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for; we've got to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for, to anticipate, to start building new infrastructure, to start having new plans, to recalibrate the baseline that we're working off of."
The Administration proposes to use the fund to:
- Invest in research and data to improve understanding of climate change impacts and how to better prepare communities and infrastructure
- Encourage and support local community measures to reduce any future risks
- Back breakthrough technologies and infrastructure to help make communities more resilient to climate change.
The new fund is part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan that was first announced last year and which Obama reemphasized last month, during his annual State of the Union address. He further spotlighted the importance of the Plan during his speech in California. He said: "Part of the Climate Action Plan that I put forward last summer is designed to protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the effects of climate change that we’re just not going to be able to avoid. So, last week, for example, the USDA announced seven new “climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate -- one of which will be at UC Davis, focused on resilience for California’s specialty crops.
"The budget that I sent to Congress -- the budget that I send to Congress next month will include $1 billion in new funding for new technologies to help communities prepare for a changing climate, set up incentives to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure. And finally, my administration will work with tech innovators and launch new challenges under our Climate Data Initiative, focused initially on rising sea levels and their impact on the coasts, but ultimately focused on how all these changes in weather patterns are going to have an impact up and down the United States -- not just on the coast but inland as well -- and how do we start preparing for that."
Obama concluded his speech on an emotive note, highlighting the regional effort of the Administration's climate efforts: "So I want to make sure that every Californian knows -- whether you’re NorCals, SoCal, here in the Central Valley -- your country is going to be there for you when you need it this year. But we're going to have to all work together in the years to come to make sure that we address the challenge and leave this incredible land embodied to our children and our grandchildren in at least as good shape as we found it."
By Clare Saxon