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Climate Change Funding and Management

Over the past 20 years, the federal government has spent billions of dollars to address climate change. Coordination and planning are critical to effective and efficient efforts.

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As shown in figure 1, since 1993, the Office of Management and Budget has reported federal climate change funding in three categories:

  • technology to reduce emissions,
  • science to better understand climate change, and
  • international assistance for developing countries.

Figure 1: Reported Federal Climate Change Funding by Category, 1993-2010

Reported Federal Climate Change Funding by Category, 1993-2010

Notes: In its June 2010 report, OMB began reporting funding for wildlife adaptation as an interim category while criteria are developed to more systematically account for a broader suite of adaptation programs. Funding for wildlife adaptation totaled $65 million in 2010, less than 1 percent of the total, and is not included in this figure.

Funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. L. No. 111-5 (2009)) included an additional $25.5 billion for technology and $641 million for science.

Each department and agency is operating under its own set of authorities and responsibilities, and therefore addresses climate change in different ways relevant to its mission. This type of situation demands a strategic framework and a high level of coordination. In the context of providing climate-related information, the National Research Council observed that no single government agency or centralized unit could perform all the required functions, and that coordination of agency roles and regional activities is a necessity. As illustrated in figure 2, many federal entities manage related programs and activities.

Figure 2: Selected Coordination Mechanisms for Federal Climate Change Activities

Selected Coordination Mechanisms for Federal Climate Change Activities

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Climate Change:

Improvements Needed to Clarify National Priorities and Better Align Them with Federal Funding Decisions
GAO-11-317:
Published: May 20, 2011. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 2011.

Climate Change:

Federal Reports on Climate Change Funding Should Be Clearer and More Complete
GAO-05-461:
Published: Aug 25, 2005. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2005.

More Reports

Climate Change:

Energy Infrastructure Risks and Adaptation Efforts
GAO-14-74:
Published: Jan 31, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 2014.

Climate Change:

Climate Change:

Climate Change:

Various Adaptation Efforts Are Under Way at Key Natural Resource Management Agencies
GAO-13-253:
Published: May 31, 2013. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 2013.

Climate Change:

Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers
GAO-13-242:
Published: Apr 12, 2013. Publicly Released: May 14, 2013.

International Climate Change Assessments:

Federal Agencies Should Improve Reporting and Oversight of U.S. Funding
GAO-12-43:
Published: Nov 17, 2011. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 2011.

Climate Change Adaptation:

Federal Efforts to Provide Information Could Help Government Decision Making
GAO-12-238T:
Published: Nov 16, 2011. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 2011.

Climate Change Adaptation:

Aligning Funding with Strategic Priorities
GAO-11-876T:
Published: Jul 28, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2011.

Climate Change Issues:

Options for Addressing Challenges to Carbon Offset Quality
GAO-11-345:
Published: Feb 15, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 2011.

Climate Change:

A Coordinated Strategy Could Focus Federal Geoengineering Research and Inform Governance Efforts
GAO-10-903:
Published: Sep 23, 2010. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 2010.
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