US government agencies release climate adaptation plans

US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House in Washington, DC on October 5, 2021.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

More than 20 federal agencies on Thursday unveiled climate change adaptation plans that reveal the biggest threats global warming poses to their operations and facilities and suggest how they might manage them.

The plans, released by agencies including the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, Homeland Security and Transportation, come months after President Joe Biden ordered a whole-of-government approach to combat climate change.

Within weeks of taking office, the president gave agencies four months to prepare plans outlining their exposure to climate change risk and how to address it.

Some of the main themes of the plans involve:

  • Protect workers from extreme heat events
  • Create supply chains that are more resilient to more frequent and extreme weather disasters
  • Assess the impacts of poor air quality and heat on low-income minority communities
  • Make government buildings better prepared for climate change.

“Agencies face a host of risks caused by climate change, including increased costs of maintaining and repairing infrastructure damaged by more frequent and extreme weather events, challenges to efficiency and preparedness programs, and health and safety risks to federal employees who work outdoors,” according to a White House fact sheet.

“By taking action now to better manage and mitigate climate risks, we will minimize disruptions to federal operations, assets and programs while creating safer working conditions for employees,” the fact sheet says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, has developed a tool to provide heat data combined with local vulnerability data for emergency and public health planners to protect people from worsening illnesses. heat episodes, the White House said.

The Department of Energy said it would implement clear climate adaptation requirements for contractors and suppliers to employ climate adaptation and resilience practices, along with advanced research programs for climate technologies in national laboratories.

The Department of Defense wrote that climate change posed a threat to military operations and could create new sources of conflict around the world, including conflict over possible water shortages. The department is committed to using climate intelligence to inform military planners about where and how military installations are at risk.

The Department for Transport wrote that climate change will make construction and travel more difficult and dangerous. He is committed to advancing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the sector and investing in more resilient infrastructure.

The ministry said it will also consider environmental justice by assessing the disproportionate impact of climate change on poor minority communities when designing new transport projects.

The Treasury Department said it would work to mitigate the impacts of climate-related financial risks on financial stability. It is also developing a plan to better support its supply chains, including the materials needed to produce currency and coins.

Earlier this year, Biden issued an executive order requiring the creation of a government climate change risk strategy, as well as an annual assessment of climate-related financial risks in the US budget.

The order was part of the administration’s pledge to halve national greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century.

Here are the agencies that have published climate adaptation plans:

1 Department of Agriculture
2 Department of Commerce
3 Department of Defense
4 Department of Education
5 Department of Energy
6 Department of Health and Human Services
7 Department of Homeland Security
8 Department of Housing and Urban Development
9 Department of the Interior
10 Ministry of Justice
11 Department of Labor
12 Department of State
13 Treasury Department
14 Ministry of Transport
15 Department of Veterans Affairs
16 American International Development Finance Corporation
17 Environmental Protection Agency
18 General Services Administration
19 National Aeronautics and Space Administration
20 Office of Personnel Management
21 Smithsonian Institution
22 United States Agency for International Development
23 U.S. Army Engineer Corps

Ashley C. Reynolds