Key Issues > Climate Change Response
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Climate Change Response

The federal government’s efforts to respond to climate change include adaptation (adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change) and climate engineering (large-scale deliberate interventions in the earth's climate system to diminish climate change or its impacts).

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Recent reports on adaptation focused on governmentwide strategic planning, and natural hazard mitigation and insurance have noted the need for a national strategic plan that will guide the nation's efforts to adapt to a changing climate, including defined federal priorities. In addition, the federal government is responding to specific impacts, such as the more than 180 Alaska Native villages affected to some degree by the growing impacts of climate change—which include melting polar ice, increasing storm intensity, and coastal flooding—increasing the urgency of federal and state efforts to identify imminently threatened villages and assess their relocation options. Figure 1 shows sea erosion at the Alaska Native village of Shishmaref, Alaska.

Figure 1: Sea Erosion of Shishmaref, Alaska (June 2003)

Sea Erosion at Shishmaref (June 2003)

The United States lacks a clear strategy for climate engineering research in the context of the federal response to climate change. See figure 2 for climate engineering technologies, their technical status, future directions for research, and potential responses.

Figure 2: Examples of Climate Engineering Technologies

Examples of climate engineering technologies. Source: GAO.

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

Technology Assessment:

Climate Engineering: Technical Status, Future Directions, and Potential Responses
GAO-11-71:
Published: Jul 28, 2011. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 2011.

Climate Change Adaptation:

Strategic Federal Planning Could Help Government Officials Make More Informed Decisions
GAO-10-113:
Published: Oct 7, 2009. Publicly Released: Oct 22, 2009.

Alaska Native Villages:

Limited Progress Has Been Made on Relocating Villages Threatened by Flooding and Erosion
GAO-09-551:
Published: Jun 3, 2009. Publicly Released: Jun 3, 2009.

Climate Change:

Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects on Federal Land and Water Resources
GAO-07-863:
Published: Aug 7, 2007. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 2007.

Climate Change:

Financial Risks to Federal and Private Insurers in Coming Decades Are Potentially Significant
GAO-07-285:
Published: Mar 16, 2007. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 2007.

More Reports

Climate Change Adaptation:

DOD Can Improve Infrastructure Planning and Processes to Better Account for Potential Impacts
GAO-14-446:
Published: May 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 2014.

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.

Energy Conservation and Climate Change:

Factors to Consider in the Design of the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit
GAO-12-318:
Published: Apr 2, 2012. Publicly Released: May 2, 2012.

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.
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