Around the world, pressures to slash emissions are growing as nations participate in the COP26 from 31 October to 12 November 2021.
The United States, the second-largest GHG emitter after China, has announced that more than 20 of its major federal agencies have released climate adaptation plans that outline the steps each agency will take to adapt and build resilience from their facilities and operations climate change.
According to President Biden’s executive order, these climate adaptation plans aim for a whole-of-government approach to address climate change.
The idea behind the climate adaptation plans from the US federal agencies, including the US Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Energy, is to “embed adaptation and resilience planning and implementation throughout their operations and programs and will continually update their adaptation plans.”
The focus of these adaptation plans includes:
(1) Safeguarding Federal investments. For example, the Department of Transportation will incorporate resilience criteria into its discretionary grant and loan programs. The Department of Justice will incorporate resilience into the design and construction of its new buildings.
(2) Identifying leadership and accountability. For the first time, adaptation and resilience leadership and responsibility have been created and added to various federal agencies’ senior leadership roles. The top leadership will lead climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience.
(3) Developing a more resilient supply chain. Agencies are revamping supply chain policies and operations to create a more resilient system.
(4) Enhancing protections for workers and communities. Recognising that the people are its greatest asset, agencies take steps to support their workers from climate change impacts.
(5) Building a more equitable future. Climate change will raise the risk for those with health conditions, vulnerable populations and widens socioeconomic inequities. The agencies have outlined actions to ensure the design and implementation of projects will meet the environmental justice objectives. For example, vulnerable members are not impacted by the heat, poor air quality, vector-borne diseases, and other hazards.
The climate adaptation plans from various federal agencies will complement the growing demands to cut greenhouse gas emissions at all levels of governments to respond to the climate crisis.
The New York City Council has voted for the city to adopt a climate adaption plan that they will update every ten years. The city has faced its first-ever flash flood event during Hurricane Ida, which has killed at least 13 residents (Rachal, 2021).
Climate change has been made a priority under President Biden’s administration. The 23 climate adaptation plans from various agencies offer a candid description of how climate change is already affecting the federal government’s work and the threat that the country will face as climate change worsens.
For example, the Department of Transportation has identified potential climate change impacts such as heat-induced rail buckling and expansions and degradation of paved surfaces, more frequent and severe flooding of underground tunnels and low-lying infrastructure, etc.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan says that it wants to work with local governments to advance resilience and environmental justice efforts and modernise its financial assistance programs “to encourage climate-resilient investments across the nation” and prioritise the most vulnerable population.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to gather building-level data to map out climate risks and environmental justice, focusing its strategies on underserved communities. The agency also says that it will strengthen floodplain management regulations.
To see the climate adaptation plans of the 23 US Federal agencies, click the link below:
Rachal, M. (2021, October 12). Climate adaptation plans from US agencies envision transit resilience, modern building codes. Smart Cities Dive. Retrieved from https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/federal-climate-adaptation-plans-usdot-epa-hud-resilient-infrastructure/608031/
FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Releases Agency Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans from Across Federal Government. (2021, October 7). The White House. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/07/fact-sheet-biden-administration-releases-agency-climate-adaptation-and-resilience-plans-from-across-federal-government/
Federal Climate Adaptation Plans. (2021). Office of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer. Retrieved from https://www.sustainability.gov/adaptation/