Federal Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans Mandated by Executive Order 14008
In January 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14008 — Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad — to take a whole-of-government approach to climate change, prioritize the climate crisis in U.S. foreign policy and national security, and require the federal government to lead by example. In pursuit of these goals, the EO requires each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations. Certain departments and agencies, like the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, must also report on ways to improve climate change forecasting capabilities. As a result of this EO, over 20 federal agencies have developed Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans to address their climate risks and vulnerabilities.
As of October 2021, the following federal agencies released Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Personnel Management, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. All plans developed by the agencies above can be found here.
In a fact sheet, the Biden administration presents five overarching highlights of the submitted plans:
- Safeguarding federal investments;
- Identifying leadership and accountability;
- Developing a more resilient supply chain;
- Enhancing protections for workers and communities; and
- Building a more equitable future.
Each agency’s plan is different, tailored to tackle specific climate threats it faces and how to increase climate resiliency. However, all of them are generally organized around a certain number of priority adaptation goals or actions. For example, see below for a summary of the following agencies’ plans: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under the U.S. Department of Commerce).
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): In the Climate Action Plan, DHS identifies five priority adaptation actions:
- Incorporate climate adaptation planning and processes into Homeland Security mission areas;
- Ensure climate resilient facilities and infrastructure;
- Incorporate climate adaptation into national preparedness and community grants and projects;
- Ensure climate-ready services and supplies; and
- Increase climate literacy.
DHS outlines the ways it can focus resources, provide technical assistance, and develop tools to address the threats climate change poses to national security and DHS’s mission to safeguard American prosperity and economic security. Through the Building Resilience Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages local and tribal governments to pursue research-supported, proactive investments in community resilience. In addition to continuing BRIC, DHS will incorporate climate adaptation into its own grant and loan programs.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT): The Climate Adaptation Plan: Revitalizing Efforts to Bolster Adaptation and Increase Resilience summarizes the severe damage climate change will have on the U.S. transportation system. Climate change will disproportionately impact older adults, children, low-income communities, and communities of color and pose threats to national investments in transportation infrastructure, the economy, and the safety of travelers.
In addition to an analysis of vulnerabilities of U.S. transportation assets, DOT outlines five priority adaptation actions:
- Incorporate resilience into DOT Grant and Loan Programs;
- Incorporate resilience throughout project planning and development processes;
- Fortify resilience of DOT facilities and operational assets;
- Ensure climate-ready services and supplies; and
- Improve climate education and research on resilience.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): In the Climate Adaptation Plan, HUD outlines four climate resilience objectives:
- Update climate risk data and research;
- Enhance mortgage financing;
- Strengthen disaster recovery and resilience; and
- Expand capacity building.
In an effort to expand its climate resilience work, HUD will aim to increase the resources available to stakeholders and assist them in engaging in climate-resilient activities. In the plan, HUD reveals that programs, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) and General Insurance and Special Risk (GI/SR) Funds, are particularly vulnerable to financial impacts as climate change will increase defaults and loss severities due to physical damage.
With over $67 billion in active grants, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Funds (CDBG-DR) can serve as a powerful tool to promote resilience and environmental justice. HUD will update CDBG-DR grant requirements to include resilience and environmental justice principles to protect the nation’s most vulnerable areas. HUD will also implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) and update its floodplain management regulations to improve its flood resilience, clarify its standards, and promote environmental justice concerns in floodplain decisionmaking.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): In the Climate Adaptation Action Plan, EPA outlines four agency-wide climate adaptation priorities:
- Integrate climate adaptation planning into EPA programs, policies, and rulemaking processes;
- Collaborate with partners to strengthen adaptive capacity and increase the resilience of the nation with an emphasis on environmental justice;
- Protect the agency’s workforce, critical infrastructure, facilities, and supply chains from the impacts of climate change;
- Measure and evaluate performance; and
- Identify and address climate adaptation and science needs.
To disseminate information, EPA will establish a central repository of information and release tools related to climate adaptation. EPA will prioritize the accessibility of climate data to assist federal, state, local, and tribal partners.
EPA released its first Climate Adaptation Plan in June 2014 and 17 subsequent Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans. Following the 2021 Climate Adaptation Action Plan, every EPA office will report on its progress since 2014 and identify future actions and EPA will update the 17 Implementation Plans.
U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC): In the 2021 Climate Action Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, DOC outlines five priority climate adaptation and resilience actions:
- Foster and enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities against the impacts of climate change;
- Use forward-looking building standards to support the development of climate-ready infrastructure;
- Improve the ability to swiftly process patent applications for climate adaptation-related technologies;
- Improve current analyses and systematically update projections of climate impacts on the national economy; and
- Incorporate climate considerations into the Economic Development Administration’s grants.
To increase resilience in communities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) specifically will provide communities with technical assistance and nature-based solutions as well as the necessary scientific information and tools to protect their homes and coastal environments. To improve the effectiveness of building standards, NOAA will also model future climate extremes and use climate prediction information to inform updates to building codes, engineering standards, and zoning decisions at the state and local levels.
Publication Date: October 2021
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Adaptation plan
- Agency guidance/policy
- Executive order