Less than three months after withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, Donald Trump has disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change, The Washington Post reports.
The 15-member panel is comprised of academics, corporate employees, and local officials whose aim is to simplify findings from the National Climate Assessment for both policymakers and private-sector officials.
The charter for the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment expires today and will not be renewed. The next National Climate Assessment was due to be released in 2018.
The Trump administration is currently reviewing a scientific report that would be key to the final document. The Climate Science Special Report, which was produced by scientists from 13 different federal agencies, drew a strong link between human activities and rising global temperatures.
The committee's chair Richard Moss, an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, said Trump's decision to end the group's work will have consequences for state and local officials who make decisions that impact the environment.
"It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action," Moss said. "We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects."
NOAA communications director Julie Roberts confirmed that Trump's decision "does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority."
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) said the disbanding of the panel will make it "more difficult" for cities to make decisions based on the assessment. "[Trump] has left us all individually to figure it out," Murray stated on Saturday.
Richard Wright, former chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, had been working with the panel on detailed climate projections.
"We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be," Wright said. "I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional."
Moss confirmed the group will continue to work on the report despite Trump's decision, but its impact will be lessened because it won't come from the federal government. Due next spring, the report "won’t have the same weight as if we were issuing it as a federal advisory committee," Moss said.