Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions by more than 20 agencies to bolster the Federal Government’s resilience to the worsening impacts of climate change. These actions are detailed in annual agency adaptation progress reports and highlight an Administration-wide commitment to confronting the climate crisis by integrating climate-readiness across every agency’s mission and programs.
More frequent and severe weather events, including droughts, extreme heat, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes, create mounting climate-related damages nationwide. Climate-related disasters impact millions of Americans each year when roads wash out, power goes down, homes and businesses burn, crops fail, and schools flood. Last year alone, the United States faced 20 extreme weather and climate related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each—a cumulative price tag of more than $145 billion. The Federal Government’s employees, assets, and operations are exposed to these same impacts. With a footprint of over 300,000 buildings, over 600,000 vehicles, and the responsibility for delivering critical goods and services, the Biden-Harris Administration is minimizing disruptions, creating safer working conditions, strengthening supply chains, saving taxpayer money, and sustaining our mission.
In February 2021, President Biden charged agencies to revitalize Federal climate adaptation efforts through Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
In October 2021, Federal agencies released climate adaptation plans that identified and addressed their most significant climate risks. Through these plans, agencies initiated actions to address a broad range of risks, including to programs, facilities, worker safety, supply chains, grants, and contracts. As part of this work, the White House also launched an effort to rebuild the Federal Government’s information resources and capacity to act on climate data. For example, in September 2022, the Administration launched a first-of-its-kind climate adaptation training for Federal program acquisition managers. The training provides a high-level overview on how to manage climate risks, including how climate change hazards may impact Federal programs and what steps they can take to prepare for these impacts. While the training is tailored for a community of approximately 1,500 Federal program acquisition managers, over 250,000 Federal Acquisition Institute users can take the course.
In addition to shoring up Federal Government operations and programs, the Biden-Harris Administration continues to work with states, Tribes, and local governments in a coordinated effort to protect America’s communities, economies, and infrastructure from the most severe impacts of climate change. Further, the Administration has worked closely with Congress to provide key adaptation investments supported by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including $50 billion in investments to protect American infrastructure against catastrophic wildfires, heat, and floods, and $4.5 billion for drought preparedness.
The reports released today show significant progress made by agencies to bolster adaptation and increase resilience to climate impacts. Highlights from the 2022 Climate Adaptation Progress Reports are below:
- Safeguarding Federal investments. Across the government, agencies analyzed new data and tools to reduce risks to Federal facilities, infrastructure, and critical assets. For example, the Department of Defense (DOD) expanded the number of major installations and sites using the DOD Climate Assessment Tool (DCAT) from 157 to over 1,900. The DCAT is a comprehensive screening tool that rigorously identifies climate hazards, empowering officials with information to prioritize where best to invest resources and how to mitigate potential harm and security impacts through adaptive solutions. For example, Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base is creating an “Installation of the Future” that is resilient to climate change impacts. Tyndall suffered $5 billion in damages from Category-5 Hurricane Michael, which destroyed almost 500 buildings and impeded critical operations. Local, state, and national partners are leveraging funds to construct living shorelines and oyster reef habitats adjacent to the base to preserve water quality, enhance overall ecosystem health, and strengthen flood resilience. Additionally, over the past year, the General Services Administration has incorporated climate risk requirements into several major solicitations with an approximate combined spending of more than $400 million.
- Developing a more resilient supply chain. The Department of Energy (DOE) is strengthening the reliability of key technology supply chains, specifically focused on adding large-capacity batteries used for storage and backup generation at its 17 national labs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a Supply Chain Risk Management Plan to protect research equipment and regional labs from climate change hazards and to continue Superfund site and emergency response activities during a natural disaster. In 2022, DOD stood up the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries, which coordinates interagency action on a more secure domestic lithium battery supply chain. Additionally, DOD has also committed to increase energy resilience by building microgrid capability at critical installations.
- Expanding and deepening agency resilience efforts. The Department of Labor created a Climate Adaptation Plan Committee to support collaboration on all climate adaptation initiatives, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s expanded use of strategic enforcement tools to protect Federal workers and workers from over 70 industries from extreme heat conditions. The Department of Agriculture required each of its 13 major agencies to identify and address climate change risks, while the Department of the Interior (DOI) has similarly directed its Bureaus and offices to update major policies to improve and increase climate adaptation and resilience in meeting its mission. EPA’s 21 Regional and National Program Offices identified and are addressing climate change risks specific to the region and program.
- Strengthening institutional climate adaptation capacity. Agency decisionmakers and front-line employees are building skills and knowledge to address climate change impacts to their specific mission. For example, the Department of Homeland Security launched a program in January 2022 to train its first class of climate adaptation fellows, deploying them to deepen climate adaptation and resilience expertise across programs. The Department of Transportation’s reinstituted Climate Change Center is developing a climate education and training program for its 50,000 Department employees and other stakeholders. For example, the Center is working with the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to deliver climate information and support to transportation planners and stakeholders to enhance the safety, effectiveness, equity, and resilience of U.S. transportation infrastructure.
- Incorporating environmental justice and equity into Federal adaptation efforts. Over the past year, agencies have embedded environmental justice and equity principles into their policies, processes, and procedures, including adaptation and resilience planning, in an effort to address past injustices and provide equal treatment to all U.S. Citizens. DOI is investing $46 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations in Tribal communities to address the unique impacts of climate change in indigenous communities. The funds also increase support for a community-led relocation effort of Tribes, dedicating $130 million from 2022-2026. This past year, DOE funded $12 million to 13 Tribes for innovative projects to reduce energy costs, increase energy security and resilience through new microgrids, and develop novel cost share reductions. The Department of the Treasury recently built a hurricane-resistant customer call center in Puerto Rico, which employs 2,000 people and is strategically located and built to withstand future severe weather events, including hurricanes and earthquakes.