Climate action makes fiscal and economic sense, and that is why we are taking new steps to code it into the DNA of how we do business at OMB.
Each year, OMB issues a revised Circular A-11. This is the Federal Government’s budgeting playbook. For the entire Executive Branch, the Circular provides the latest guidance and technical instruction on how to prepare, submit, and execute the Budget. Agencies are asked to submit budget requests that reflect the priorities of the Administration, including improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government and returning the highest value to the American taxpayer.
To that end, for the first time, the Circular includes an explicit requirement for the entire Executive Branch to ensure that funding requests in support of Federal facilities align with the Administration’s climate preparedness and resilience goals.
Specifically, OMB is asking all Federal agencies to consider climate preparedness and resiliency objectives as part of their Fiscal Year 2017 budget requests for construction and maintenance of Federal facilities. We are making it very clear that this is a priority in proposals for capital funding. Why? Because making our Federal facility investments climate-smart reduces our fiscal exposure to the impacts of climate change. It’s the right thing to do to run an efficient and effective government. And it’s the right thing to do to return the highest value to the American taxpayer.
Of course, climate-smart will take on different meaning for each agency and asset. Our Federal portfolio of real estate is incredibly diverse, from office buildings to hospitals to laboratories to warehouses and beyond. For example, the Department of Defense alone manages over 560,000 facilities globally. The climate impacts the breadth of our Federal real estate portfolio. Specifically, many of these assets, and the critical domestic and national security missions they support, are vulnerable to climate-related extreme weather events – like hurricanes, wildfire, floods, and drought. For instance, just last week, the National Park Service identified more than $40 billion in national park infrastructure and historic and cultural resources put at risk by sea level rise.
So, while the United States leads global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are also taking action to better prepare and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change today. That is why the Administration is working to reduce taxpayers’ exposure to the impacts of climate change through grants, technical assistance, and programs in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief. The reason is simple: we can reduce future costs by making smarter investments up front. It’s true for communities across the nation, and it’s true for the Federal Government.