Identifying Vulnerabilities of Key Sectors to Climate Change
(Climate Action Plan, p. 14.)
- The Department of Energy (DOE) is soon to release an assessment of climate-change impacts on the energy sector, including power-plant disruptions due to drought and disruption of fuel supplies during severe storms, as well as potential opportunities to make energy infrastructure more resilient with respect to these risks.
- In 2013 and 2014, federal agencies are to report on climate-change impacts and strategies to address them in key sectors, especially health, transportation, food supply, oceans, and coastal communities.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
November 1, 2013: President Obama issued Executive Order 13,653, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” which instructed federal agencies to develop, implement, and update comprehensive Agency Adaptation Plans that integrate consideration of climate change in to agency operations and overall mission objectives. Each Agency Adaptation Plan is to identify and assess implications of climate change for the agency’s ability to accomplish its missions, operations, and programs; to describe existing and planned steps to manage risks and build resilience; to describe how any risk that may impair the agency’s ability to carry out its mission or operations will be addressed; to describe how improving adaptation and resilience will factor into agency expenditures; and to describe how the agency will contribute to interagency efforts. Agencies are to update their Adaptation Plans at specified intervals, with the first update due by March 1, 2014. (See Exec. Order No. 13,653, 78 Fed. Reg. 66,819, 66,821–22, § 5 (Nov. 6, 2013). The online Sustainable Facilities Tool has a very helpful annotated version of the order.)
Early November 2013: EPA released 7 Program Adaptation Implementation Plans and 10 Regional Adaptation Implementation Plans for public comment. (EPA Adaptation Implementation Plans, EPA.gov (last visited Nov. 4, 2013).) The EPA’s website provides links to adaptation programs at some other federal agencies. (See Adaptation Programs at Other Federal Agencies, EPA.gov (last visited Nov. 4, 2013).)
July 10, 2013: DOE released a report that assessed the vulnerability of America’s critical energy and electricity infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. (U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather, Energy.gov (July 2013).)
August 12, 2013: DOE and the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released a report on electric grid resilience which evaluated the current capacity of the grid to maintain power during natural disasters, analyzed the economic impacts of grid failure, and provided recommendations on how to better protect the grid.(Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages, Energy.gov (last visited Nov. 4, 2013).) The report reinforced the findings of DOE’s July 10 report. (Heather Zichal, Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change, White House Blog (Sept. 20, 2013, 10:36 AM).)
February 7, 2014: DOE announced that it would make up to $7 million available for community-scale projects to develop advanced microgrid technology. The goal of this “Microgrid Research, Development, and System Design” Funding Opportunity Announcement is to help communities become more adaptive and better prepared for power shortages. Communities that use localized microgrids will be able to disconnect from the traditional electrical grid and operate independently in the event of disruptions to the larger grid system. DOE plans to provide the new funds to teams of communities, technology developers and providers, and utilities that will design small (≤10 MW) microgrid systems to serve local communities. Applications are due April 28, 2014, and can be submitted through grants.gov or fedconnect.net. (News Release, DOE, Energy Department Announces Funding to Improve the Resiliency of the Electric Grid (Feb. 7, 2014).)
July 16, 2014: The Agriculture Department (USDA) announced $236.3 million in funding for eight states to help them improve rural electric infrastructure. (See Fact Sheet, White House, Taking Action to Support State, Local, and Tribal Leaders as They Prepare Communities for the Impacts of Climate Change (July 16, 2014).)
Ecosystems and Natural Resources
August 27, 2013: The National Marine Fisheries Service announced the availability of Oceans and Marine Resources in a Changing Climate, a new report on the effects of climate change on the ocean and marine ecosystems and resources under U.S. jurisdiction. The comprehensive study was produced by 63 experts from federal agencies, academia, and nongovernmental organizations. (New Report Summarizes Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Oceans, Marine Resources, NOAA Fisheries (Aug. 27, 2013).) The report is available for free download or purchase; a shorter version appeared in the series Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review.
December 18, 2013: The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that its eight regional Climate Science Centers (CSCs) would award nearly $7 million to universities and other partners to fund over 50 studies on how climate change will affect natural resources as well as management actions that can be taken to help offset such impacts. (Press Release, DOI, Interior Announces Funding for New Scientific Studies as Part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (Dec. 18, 2013).) Funded projects include:
- Determining species, habitats, and ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change and ways to make them more resilient;
- Projecting climate change effects on stream flow and fish in different parts of the country;
- Building science-based models to help land managers in different regions better focus their efforts where they are most needed;
- Informing coastal conservation and restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico; and
- Studying issues such as fire and climate change, sea-level rise, coastal change, and effects of drought on fish and wildlife.
Several studies address the potential effects on resources of concern to Native Americans, some by using traditional ecological knowledge to advance adaptation planning. (Press Release, DOI, Interior Announces Funding for New Scientific Studies as Part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (Dec. 18, 2013); for details about the newly funded projects as well as previous CSC projects see the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center website.)
The studies will be undertaken by teams including scientists from the universities that comprise each CSC; from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Forest Service; and from the states, Indian tribes, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), and other partners. The USGS website has a map showing the eight regions and the consortiums of universities involved in each CSC. (Press Release, DOI, Interior Announces Funding for New Scientific Studies as Part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (Dec. 18, 2013).)
February 7, 2014: The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), requested public input in the early stages of an interagency Special Report on the impacts of climate change on human health in the U.S. (Request for Public Engagement in the Interagency Special Report on the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States, 79 Fed. Reg. 7,417 (Feb. 7, 2014).) The Special Report project is being led by USGCRP’s Interagency Crosscutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health and a subset of USGCRP’s Interagency National Climate Assessment Working Group.
This page was last updated on July 16, 2014.