The Department of Commerce Appropriations Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-161) called for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to execute an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to establish a committee that would “investigate and study the serious and sweeping issues relating to global climate change and make recommendations regarding what steps must be taken and what strategies must be adopted in response to global climate change, including the science and technology challenges thereof.” The committee was directed to produce a report, with findings, conclusions, and recommendations, within two years of its first meeting. The legislation also called for a Summit, attended by preeminent experts selected by the Academies, to help define the study parameters.

To fulfill this mandate from Congress, the National Academies conducted a series of coordinated activities designed to advance the US response to climate change. These activities were intended to…

…build on an extensive foundation of previous and ongoing work, including past and current National Academies activities, assessments and reports from other national and international organizations (including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, and a wide range of nongovernmental organizations and private sector groups), and the scientific literature;

…tap experts and stakeholders from a range of communities including academia, business and industry, different levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the international community;

…analyze and assess different options and strategies for limiting the magnitude of future climate change, adapting to the impacts of climate change, advancing the science of climate change, and informing effective decisions and actions related to climate change;

…provide an integrated, cross-cutting assessment of important short-term actions and long-term strategies and investments, the most significant impediments to progress, and the major scientific and technical advances needed going forward; and

…produce forward-looking, action-oriented reports and derivative products that provide useful advice to decision makers at all levels and across the many sectors facing critical decisions related to climate change.