Federal and EPA Adaptation Programs
On This Page
- The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force is recommending efforts to strengthen federal strategies and programs to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change at the national level.
- Many federal agencies already manage programs to support and inform adaptation at the regional, state, and local level.
- EPA has programs designed to help decision-makers better understand and address risks posed by climate change.
Across the United States and the world, climate change is already affecting communities, livelihoods, and the environment. In response, many parts of the federal government are taking action to help Americans adapt to current and potential risks. Some of these actions are described below.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- In early November, 2013 EPA released 17 DRAFT Program and Regional Adaptation Implementation Plans for a 60 day public comment period. The public may provide comments on the documents through the Agency’s docket system at www.regulations.gov (Docket Number EPA-HQ-OA-2013-0568). These draft Implementation Plans were developed by the EPA's Program and Regional offices and describe how each will address the impacts of climate change on its mission, operations, and programs, in response to the Agency-wide plan.
- In February, 2013 EPA released its Draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PDF, 55pp, 767 kb) for public comment. EPA is currently addressing comments received during the 60 day public comment period. In this plan, EPA examines the ways its programs are vulnerable to a changing climate and how the Agency can adapt to continue meeting its mission of protecting human health and the environment.
- In June of 2011 the EPA Administrator issued a policy statement on climate change adaptation (PDF). In response, EPA completed its Draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
- Climate Ready Estuaries is a partnership between EPA and the National Estuary Program to assess climate change vulnerabilities in coastal areas, develop and implement adaptation strategies, engage and educate stakeholders, and share the lessons learned with other coastal managers.
- Climate Ready Water Utilities provides practical tools and resources for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities to better understand and adapt to climate change impacts.
- EPA's National Water Program Climate Change Strategy provides an overview of the likely effects of climate change on water resources and the nation's clean water and safe drinking water programs. It describes the goals and strategic actions being implemented by the National Water Program to adapt to those changes. Topics addressed include water infrastructure, water quality, watersheds and wetlands, coastal and ocean waters, and working with tribes.
- The EPA's Smart Growth Website under the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities offers a virtual map of projects around the country. View the map of Smart Growth projects to see what is happening near your community.
- The Office of Research and Development (ORD's) Global Change Impacts & Adaptation, as part of the ORD Global Change Research Program, assesses the potential vulnerability to climate change (and other global change stressors such as land-use change) of EPA’s air, water, ecosystem, and human health protection efforts at the federal, regional, state, municipal, and tribal levels, as well as adaptation options to build resilience in the face of these vulnerabilities. The program carries out interdisciplinary syntheses across newly emerging scientific findings to identify potential impacts, and characterize and communicate the uncertainty in the science, to provide support for decision-makers and managers.
- EPA's Tribal Science Council provides science information and resources gathered through tribal traditional knowledge, analytical science, and integrated approaches to science by tribes, EPA, and other federal agencies and tribal organizations.
- EPA supports numerous adaptation efforts in different regions of the country. Learn more in the regional adaptation pages.
Executive Order - Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change
- On November 1, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order, which creates a Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, replacing the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. The Council will be comprised of representatives from across the federal government and will work to integrate climate resiliency into federal programs; provide information, data, and tools for the public on climate change preparedness; and update the agency adaptation plans annually. In addition, the Executive Order creates a State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to inform Federal efforts.
Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force
- The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force was created to develop recommendations for the President on how the federal government can strengthen policies and programs to better prepare the nation for the impacts of climate change. It was formed in 2009, and replaced by the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience in 2013. The Task Force was co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and includes representatives from more than 20 federal agencies.
- In 2010, the Task Force released a Progress Report (PDF, 72 pp, 1.3 MB) that recommended key components to include in a national strategy on climate change adaptation. Three cross-cutting national strategies were developed:
- A National Action Plan for managing freshwater resources in a changing climate in order to assure adequate water supplies and protect water quality, human health, property, and aquatic ecosystems
- A draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, which includes a series of actions to address the Resiliency and Adaptation to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification priority objective, one of nine priority objectives identified by the National Ocean Policy
- A National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, for safeguarding our nation's species and natural resources
- The Task Force's 2011 Progress Report (PDF, 32 pp, 4.9 MB) provides an update on actions in key areas of federal adaptation. These include building resilience in local communities, safeguarding critical natural resources, such as freshwater, and providing accessible climate information and tools to help decision-makers manage climate risks.
U.S. Global Change Research Program
- The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. Thirteen departments and agencies, including EPA, participate in the USGCRP. The USGCRP is currently developing an updated National Climate Assessment.
Adaptation Programs at Other Federal Agencies
Many federal government agencies are managing programs to help communities and ecosystems prepare for climate change impacts. These agencies include the following (please note that this list is not intended to be comprehensive):
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- USAID acknowledges the inextricable link between climate change and development (PDF). It has made adaptation one of its three pillars of climate change funding.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) hosts a broad range of information and tools for land managers, including interactive climate maps, a climate change response framework for forest management, an adaptation guidebook, climate data, and examples of existing adaptation plans.
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
- In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, DoD establishes that climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that DoD undertakes. Additionally, DoD will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on its facilities and military capabilities.
- In 2009, the Chief of Naval Operations formed Task Force Climate Change (PDF) to:
- Address implications of climate change for national security and naval operations.
- Answer the question "when" in terms of Navy decisions regarding climate change.
- Ensure the Navy is ready and capable to meet all mission requirements in the 21st century.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has updated guidance on how the agency's projects, systems and programs can respond to future changes in sea level.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is developing and implementing strategies to mitigate climate change through changes in the department's technical programs, policies, and initiatives. While the majority of the DOE work focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing energy use can also have co-benefits as a climate adaptation strategy.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- The Administration for Children & Families contributed to the development of tribal adaptation plans.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the Climate and Health Program to lead efforts to prevent and adapt to the anticipated health impacts of climate change.
- CDC has launched the Climate-Ready State & Cities Initiative in eight states and two cities. Together, CDC and local health departments are developing ways to anticipate and respond to health effects by applying climate science and preparing adaptation strategies for the public health sector.
- The National Institute of Environment and Health Services (NIEHS) is researching the human health impacts of climate change, raising awareness, creating partnerships, and providing critical information to NIEHS stakeholders and the public.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is undertaking a critical review of the National Flood Insurance Program.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- HUD is supporting adaptation planning in communities (PDF).
U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
- DOI manages U.S. public lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources. In 2009 the Interior Secretary issued an order to develop a climate change response strategy. These strategy solutions include wetlands restoration, reforestation initiatives, restoration of native species, improved water supply forecasting, and other efforts.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is integrating climate change into management of fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats. The department published "Rising to the Urgent Challenge: Strategic Plan for Responding to Accelerating Climate Change," (PDF) which establishes a basic framework for the Service and the broader conservation community that is based on adaptation, mitigation, and engagement.
- DOI manages 22 Landscape Climate Cooperatives—public-private partnerships seeking to create a holistic and collaborative adaption approach grounded in science.
- The USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) serves the scientific needs of managers of fish, wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems as they plan for climate change. NCCWSC manages the DOI's eight Climate Science Centers, which provide a full range of support for natural and cultural resources.
- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development program contributes to understanding both the causes and consequences of climate change. Research efforts help identify potential vulnerability and understand the resilience of the Earth system to such changes.
- The U.S. National Parks Service released a Climate Change Response Strategy (PDF) that integrates science, adaptation, mitigation, and communication to develop an ambitious coordinated strategy to respond to the impacts of rapid climate change on the national parks.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- NASA provides global information on changes in sea level rise, temperature of the oceans, sea ice, and land ice. This helps provide other agencies with valuable information about global conditions.
U.S. Department of Commerce
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has numerous efforts underway related to coastal, marine fishery, water resource, and ecosystem adaptation. Learn more here.
- NOAA hosts climate.gov, a consolidated climate services website.
- NOAA is also conducting several studies of regional climates called Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has developed a Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse with information about the effects of transportation on climate change, as well as the impacts of climate change on transportation. The Adaptation Planning section provides resources about approaches to planning for potential impacts caused by climate change.