In a September 2017 report, Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the potential economic effects of climate change in order to help federal decision-makers identify significant climate risks and develop government-wide priorities to manage such risks. The report concludes that extreme weather and fire events have cost the federal government over $350 billion over the past decade. As climate change causes these extreme events to become more common and more intense, recurring costs to the federal government could reach $35 billion per year by mid-century, and $112 billion per year by late century.
GAO found that federal-level planning is needed because the economic effects of climate change could be unevenly distributed across sectors and regions. For example, the Southeast region may face greater potential economic effects than other parts of the country as a result of coastal property damage as sea levels rise. The report recommends that the appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy, use information on potential economic effects to help identify significant climate risks and craft appropriate federal responses.
In addition, more localized strategies to combat climate change continue to develop. On October 31, 2017, Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed Administrative Order 289, establishing the Alaska Climate Change Strategy and Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team. Recognizing that climate change threatens the availability and quality of Alaska’s resources, the order aims to “creat[e] a vision for Alaska’s future that incorporates long-term climate goals, yet recognizes the need for non-renewable resources to meet current economic and energy requirements during a transition to a renewable energy based future.” To that end, the order announces Alaska’s intent to engage with national and international partners to seek collaborative solutions to climate change that support the goals of the United Nations’ 2015 Paris Agreement.
In particular, the Leadership Team has been charged with identifying measures to:
- mitigate Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions;
- help Alaska’s citizens, environment, and infrastructure adapt to climate change impacts;
- bolster scientific research, innovation, public outreach, and education related to climate change and mitigation and adaptation strategies; and
- plan for timely and robust responses to address near-term threats to Alaska’s communities from ocean acidification, coastal erosion, storm impacts, oil and other toxic spills, infrastructure damage, and other climate change impacts.