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Climate Change

Federal and EPA Adaptation Programs

Key Points
  • 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)

  • On October 31, 2014, the White House released the final versions of Climate Change Adaptation Plans produced by federal departments and agencies, including EPA. EPA’s final Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PDF, 64pp, 1.7mb) and the 17 Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans produced by the Program and Regional Offices describe how the Agency will integrate considerations of climate change into its programs, policies, rules and operations to ensure they are effective even as the climate changes.
  • On June 30, 2014, EPA issued a new policy statement on climate change adaptation (PDF, 3pp, 4.81mb). This statement updates the initial policy statement (PDF, 3pp, 595kb) issued in June of 2011.
  • 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 Exit EPA Disclaimer 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.

Interagency Efforts

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

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.

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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)

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)

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)

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

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

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