​Planning for adaptation (to address and prepare for impacts) and mitigation (to reduce future climate change, for example by cutting emissions) is becoming more widespread, but current implementation efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences. 

Actions to reduce emissions, increase carbon uptake, adapt to a changing clim ate, and increase resilience to impacts that are unavoidable can improve public health, economic development, ecosystem protection, and quality of life. 

Over the past few years, the focus moved from “Is climate changing?” to “Can society manage unavoidable changes and avoid unmanageable changes?” Research demonstrates that both mitigation (efforts to reduce future climate changes) and adaptation (efforts to reduce the vulnerability of society to climate change impacts) are needed in order to minimize the damages from human-caused climate change and to adapt to the pace and ultimate magnitude of changes that will occur. Adaptation and mitigation are closely linked; adaptation efforts will be more difficult, more costly, and less likely to succeed if significant mitigation actions are not taken.

Despite emerging efforts, the pace and extent of adaptation activities are not proportional to the risks to people, property, infrastructure, and ecosystems from climate change; important opportunities available during the normal course of planning and management of resources are also being overlooked. A number of state and local governments are engaging in adaptation planning, but most have not taken action to implement the plans. Some companies in the private sector and numerous non-governmental organizations have also taken early action, particularly in capitalizing on the opportunities associated with facilitating adaptive actions. Actions and collaborations have occurred across all scales. At the same time, barriers to effective implementation continue to exist. 

Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, Eds., 2014: Highlights of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, pp. 62–63, Print.