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GAO: Climate Resilience Is Not Being Addressed by the Federal Government

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By Marc Kodack

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified climate change as a high risk to federal agencies beginning in 2013, and has continued that assessment with its most current list of high risks released in late 2019. The list is updated every other year at the start of a new Congress. According to the GAO, the “High Risk List has served to identify and help resolve serious weaknesses in areas that involve substantial resources and provide critical services to the public.” The reason that climate change was included, is that the GAO has determined that it represents a significant fiscal risk to the federal government. This is due to the projection that if climate resilience is not increased today, significantly higher costs will be incurred in the future to address damage and destruction caused by climate change. Of the 62 recommendations that GAO has made concerning climate risk since 2013, 25 remain open as of December 2018. Thus, the GAO concludes, “…the federal government has not made measurable progress to reduce its fiscal exposure to climate change.” The lack of progress has informed two, 2019 GAO audits related to climate resilience – one for the federal government released in October, and another for the Department of Defense (DoD) released in June. (more…)