2014 USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Climate Change Adaptation Plan presents strategies and actions to address the effects of climate change on key mission areas including agricultural production, food security, rural development, and forestry and natural resources conservation.

The 2014 USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan includes input from eleven USDA agencies and offices.  It provides a detailed vulnerability assessment, reviews the elements of USDA’s mission that are at risk from climate change, and provides specific actions and steps being taken to build resilience to climate change.  The plan advances President Obama’s Priority Agenda and Climate Action Plan to integrate climate change adaptation planning into the actions of the federal government.

Bridgeport, Connecticut Climate Preparedness Workshops

Location

Bridgeport Town Hall
999 broad street
06604 bridgeport , CT
United States
41° 10' 35.9184" N, 73° 11' 28.9284" W
Connecticut US
Summary: 

The Bridgeport Climate Preparedness Workshops: Summary of Findings report is the culmination of an engagement process focused on comprehensively reducing risk and improving resilience in the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut through a community-driven process. This effort identified the top priority adaptation actions for the city derived through stakeholder consensus.

Climate Risk Study for Telecommunications and Data Center Services

An increasing trend towards consolidation and sharing of infrastructure in the US telecommunications sector is increasing vulnerability to climate risks, according to a new report funded by the US General Services Administration (GSA). 

The finding comes as part of a wider study into climate risks affecting the world’s largest telecommunications market. Driven in part by recent legislation, the drive towards cost efficiency and expanding overall coverage has led telecoms companies to pool infrastructure resources. This resource sharing reduces ‘redundancy’ in the telecoms sector, increasing sensitivity to climate risks.

‘Redundancy’ is extra capacity in the network which makes the operations less efficient (as there is extra infrastructure assets that are not being used to full capacity), but increases resilience to external shocks like those from climate change (as spare capacity can compensate if some parts of the network fails). 

Recent legislation allows companies to share telecommunications and data centre infrastructure and the government has also begun plans to consolidate data centres. At the same time, US federal government bodies have done much work to understand and begin to address climate change risks to essential operations and services. 

"We're seeing the US government expect more from the private sector vendors which provide telecommunications and data centers services. It's not just about quality and cost of service anymore - it's also about how resilient those services are to climate change and extreme weather." Said Peter Adams, one of the lead authors of the report and Climate Risk Consultant at Acclimatise.

The inherent tension between increasing efficiencies of services while maintaining resilience is a challenge that is replicated across all sectors, companies and societies. Successfully walking the tightrope will be crucial to providing stable services that are also cost-effective.

Getting the balance right is particularly important for crucial sectors such as communications. Such sectors not only make large contributions to the economy in their own right, but also allow other businesses and sectors to function smoothly. Climate change impacts affecting telecommunications infrastructure will likely have knock-on effects across the wider economy.

The Climate Risks Study for Telecommunications & Data Centre Services study - produced for the GSA by Riverside Technology Inc. and Acclimatise - investigates how climate change will impact the sector.

The report looks not only at the headline-grabbing impacts of extreme weather events, such as those incurred by Hurricane Sandy, but also the risks brought on by slow-onset, gradual changes to the base climate.

Supply-chain risks

Another key finding of the report is that the climate risks to telecommunications infrastructure are far better understood than those to the supply chains that support them:

“While climate risks to such vital supply chain inputs as electricity appear significant… the small but growing literature on telecommunications and data centre climate risks focuses on infrastructure to the near exclusion of enterprise supply chains” the report warns. 

Closing the knowledge gap will be vital to get a full picture of the exposure of the sector to climate change risks. 

Recommendations

  • The report makes several recommendations to help better understand and manage climate risks to the sector, these include:
  • Frame climate risks as business risks using the language of business, not science, and contextualising climate risk from the perspective of private sector companies, their customers, investors, and regulators.
  • Plan for both a changing climate baseline and for climate extremes. Successfully addressing climate risk requires careful attention to subtle impacts (e.g., the cumulative impact of increasing sequences of warmer than average days on wired telecommunications) as well as to the effects of extreme weather and storms. 
  • Build awareness of climate risks before disasters strike. Working with stakeholders to build consensus and collect the information each offers is necessary to effectively build resilience. 
  • Conduct direct consultations with the private sector to understand their needs, strengths, and weaknesses, as these stakeholders know the business, sites, and technologies best and can help build understanding of what would happen under likely climate scenarios. 
  • Thoroughly assess climate risk of both telecoms and data centre sectors, informed by consultations with experts and stakeholders. This will allow for the prioritisation of risks to both sectors according to their relative consequence and likelihood. 
  • Require federal service providers to demonstrate climate resilience in all procurement processes, with suppliers required to undertake a climate risk assessment and demonstrate how their products and services will continue to meet required contractual and serviceability performance standards. 
  • Elucidate, test, and document adaptation options as value protection strategies in both sectors, as many of these strategies and fixes remain prescriptive, undetailed, and/or untested. 
  • Assess operating headrooms for key assets in both sectors to understand the functional thresholds for critical assets in a changing climate, which will assist in identifying and prioritising risks, planning operational maintenance, and informing future capital expenditures. 
  • Assess both sectors within the context of their asset lifetimes, with climate risk assessments scaled to the life cycles of assets and equipment. Though lifetimes are short, assets must be robust during their useful lives. 
  • Include telecoms and data centres in the fourth National Climate Assessment, alongside other key sectors already represented. 
  • Provide guidance on SEC material risk disclosure. 

Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of New Jersey’s Transportation Infrastructure

In 2010, a partnership of New Jersey state agencies and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (the “New Jersey Partnership”) was awarded a grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of transportation infrastructure from the impacts of climate change. The primary objective of this project is to pilot FHWA’s Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Conceptual Model using New Jersey as a case study, providing feedback for the advancement of the Conceptual Model as well as develop a greater awareness and understanding of the potential effects of climate change on transportation infrastructure in New Jersey. Based on the feedback received through this and the four other pilot projects funded across the United States, FHWA will revise and finalize the Conceptual Model for application nationwide.

The Conceptual Risk Assessment Model was developed to assist transportation agencies in identifying infrastructure at risk for exposure to climate change stressors and determining which threats carry the most significant consequences. It incorporates the following summary steps:

  1. Build an inventory of relevant assets and determine which are critical;
  2. Gather information on potential future climate scenarios;
  3. Assess the potential vulnerability and resilience of critical assets.

These three steps were performed for two study areas in New Jersey, each one of which contains key transportation assets within all three New Jersey MPOs’ jurisdictions. One study area focused on coastal NJ, running from the mouth of the Raritan River to the tip of Cape May (Coastal Study Area). The other incorporates much of the Northeast Corridor, and then extends southward along the Delaware River from Trenton to Salem County.

Assessing Vulnerability and Risk of Climate Change Effects on Transportation Infrastructure: Hampton Roads Virginia Pilot

This report describes how anticipated impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia were assessed via a decision model to help prioritize elements of the region’s long range strategic plan. This study is part of a larger effort by the United States Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to understand the vulnerability of critical transportation infrastructure in several regions. The study of Hampton Roads region is significant in part because it is one of the most vulnerable to the projected impacts of sea level rise by virtue of its low-lying topography, large population, and the density of military installations including the largest naval base on the east coast of the US. The risks associated with climate change in Hampton Roads have been well documented in a number of existing reports and outreach efforts carried out by a variety of agencies and these results are highlighted herein.

Climate Change in New York State: Updating the 2011 ClimAID Climate Risk Information

As with the original ClimAID assessment, New York State was divided into seven regions for this update. The geographic regions are grouped together based on a variety of factors, including type of climate and ecosystems, watersheds, and dominant types of agricultural and economic activities. The broad geographical regions are: Western New York and the Great Lakes Plain (Region 1), Catskill Mountains and the West Hudson River Valley (Region 2), the Southern Tier (Region 3), the coastal plain composed of the New York City metropolitan area and Long Island (Region 4), the East Hudson and Mohawk River Valleys (Region 5), the Tug Hill Plateau (Region 6), and the Adirondack Mountains (Region 7).

Global climate model-based quantitative projections are provided within each region for:

  • Temperature.
  • Precipitation.
  • Sea level rise (coastal and Hudson Valley regions only).
  • Extreme events.

The potential for changes in other variables is also described, although in a more qualitative manner because quantitative information for them is either unavailable or considered less reliable. These variables include:

  • Heat indices.
  • Frozen precipitation.
  • Lightning.
  • Intense precipitation of short duration.
  • Storms (hurricanes, nor’easters, and associated wind events).

Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization - U.S. FHWA Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Pilot Project

Location

United States
21° 32' 42.8496" N, 158° 6' 54.8424" W
US
Summary: 

In 2010, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) selected five pilot teams from across the country to test a climate change vulnerability assessment model. This conceptual model guided transportation agencies through the process of collecting and integrating climate and asset data in order to identify critical vulnerabilities.

San Francisco Bay Metropolitan Transportation Commission - U.S. FHWA Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Pilot Project

Location

United States
37° 48' 36.2628" N, 122° 23' 55.2552" W
US
Summary: 

In 2010, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) selected five pilot teams from across the country to test a climate change vulnerability assessment model. This conceptual model guided transportation agencies through the process of collecting and integrating climate and asset data in order to identify critical vulnerabilities.

Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & Scorecard: 2014 Findings & Recommendations

Amid growing evidence that climate change is having wide-ranging global impacts that will worsen in the years ahead, Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & Scorecard: 2014 Findings & Recommendations, ranks the nation's 330 largest insurance companies on what they are saying and doing to respond to escalating climate risks. The report found strong leadership among fewer than a dozen companies but generally poor responses among the vast majority.

This report summarizes responses from insurance companies to a survey on climate change risks developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). In 2013, insurance regulators in California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York and Washington required insurers writing in excess of $100 million in direct written premiums, and licensed to operate in any of the five states, to disclose their climate-related risks using this survey.

The aim of the survey, and Ceres’ analysis of the responses, is to provide regulators, insurers, investors and other stakeholders with substantive information about the risks insurers face from climate change and the steps insurers are taking—or are not taking— to respond to those risks. Because virtually every large insurer operates in at least one of the mandatory climate risk disclosure states, this analysis effectively opens a window into the entire industry. The report distills key findings and industry trends, and includes company specific scores based on disclosed actions taken to manage climate risks. It also offers recommendations for insurers and regulators to improve the insurance sectors’ overall management of climate change risks.