Federal Agencies Respond to Risks of Climate Change

C2ES is pleased to release our updated report, Climate Change Adaptation: What Federal Agencies are Doing, which lays out the rapidly expanding efforts across the federal government to respond to the increasing economic risks of extreme weather and climate change.

Federal agencies are under growing pressure to reduce costs, eliminate unnecessary regulations, and make certain the public is getting a good return on the tax dollars they invest in government. In the context of climate change, federal agencies are reviewing the programs they operate and the facilities and resources they manage to identify cost-effective steps to minimize their vulnerability and enhance their resilience to increased risks of extreme weather and a changing climate. With our nation having experienced a record number of extreme weather events last year, each causing economic damages exceeding $1 billion, it’s both common sense and smart fiscal policy to analyze and minimize the vulnerability of federal assets to extreme weather and climate impacts.

We have been closely tracking, analyzing, and recommending actions by federal agencies to assess and respond to climate vulnerabilities since these efforts began in a few leading agencies several years ago. In our initial report in April 2010, Adapting to Climate Change: A Call for Federal Leadership, we highlighted the critical role the federal government plays in this area and set out a series of incremental steps to begin managing these increasing risks. In November 2010, we followed up with the first edition of Climate Change Adaptation: What Federal Agencies are Doing.

With leadership from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force has engaged many more agencies and the depth and breadth of the work they are doing has grown dramatically over a relatively short period of time. Reflecting this growth, our new summary of these activities is twice the size of the first edition.

We continue to offer our report as a resource to the adaptation community – a single place they can go to learn about the policies, analyses, and actions federal agencies have undertaken that could prove useful in informing their own efforts.

We thank those across the federal government who helped us compile this summary and welcome feedback on how to improve this document in future updates.

Steve Seidel is Senior Advisor at C2ES.