The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a report detailing the actions being made by the U.S. Department of Defense (Dod) to adapt to climate change, and ensure readiness in the face of future climatic changes. As we have often highlighted, the DoD has been very forward-leaning on this issue (across both Republican and Democratic Administrations), as it cannot afford to play politics with military readiness. As reported by io9:
The Department of Defense has identified five climate change phenomena that could affect its operations: (1) rising temperatures; (2) changes in precipitation patterns; (3) increasing storm frequency and intensity (coastal and inland); (4) rising sea levels and associated storm surge; and (5) changes in ocean temperature, circulation, salinity, and acidity.
Despite considerable progress by the DoD on adapting to climate change, the GAO has some suggestions for improvement, including three recommendations to the Secretary of Defense:
- In order to provide DOD decision makers with comprehensive information on the vulnerabilities of its facilities to the potential impacts of climate change on its missions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Senior Sustainability Officer and Climate Change Adaptation Working Group to–through the Assessment Group–develop a project plan and milestones for completing DOD’s screening-level vulnerability assessment and direct the services to–in coordination with the Assessment Group–develop plans and milestones that describe how they intend to use the data collected through the assessment in support of climate change adaptation planning.
- In order to facilitate the efforts of installation planners to efficiently implement the requirements of the Unified Facilities Criteria and DOD Instruction 4715.03, the Secretary of Defense–in conjunction with the Secretaries of the military departments–should provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans. At a minimum, further direction could include definitions of key terms, such as the definition of “climate change” recently included in DOD Manual 4715.03; further information about changes in applicable building codes and design standards that account for potential climate change impacts; and further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations.
- In order to improve the military services’ ability to make facility investment decisions in accordance with DOD’s strategic direction to include climate change adaptation considerations and additionally, to demonstrate an emphasis on proposing projects with an adaption component to installation planners, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure.
Click here for the full report.