Climate Change Adaptation: What Federal Agencies Are Doing

Posted on: 10/31/2010 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

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From the introduction:

There is a growing consensus that regardless of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, significant climate change is unavoidable. Although climate mitigation remains critical, we must also be thinking about and planning for ways to limit the adverse impacts from unavoidable changes in our climate. By taking steps now to adapt to climate change, we will be better able to limit future damages and their associated costs.

In March 2010, the Pew Center released the report, Adapting to Climate Change: A Call for Federal Leadership. The Pew Center’s report was developed with the understanding that while many efforts to adapt to climate change will occur at the state and local level, the federal government is a critical player in an effective and coordinated approach to climate change adaptation in the United States. In this report, the authors called for a National Adaptation Program and recommended new institutional mechanisms and roles for federal agencies to mainstream the consideration of climate change across agency operations, programs, and services. Also released this year was the National Academies’ report, Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change, which emphasized that the federal government should not only serve as a “role model”, but also play a significant role as a “catalyst and coordinator” inidentifying vulnerabilities to climate change impacts and the adaptation options that could increase our resilience to these changes.

Federal agencies are stepping forward to meet this challenge and are beginning to “mainstream” consideration of climate change adaptation across their programs and policies. Some agencies are also taking a leadership role in enabling others—state, local and tribal governments, businesses, and communities—in their adaptation planning and projects. These federal actions are still diffuse and as such, this report attempts to capture and highlight these efforts to facilitate communication and collaboration across federal agencies as well as with numerous non‐federal stakeholders focused on domestic adaptation policy. Not all federal projects addressing climate change impacts or adaptations are included in this report. However, where a federal department or agency has implemented institutional mechanisms specifically for climate change adaptation, developed an agency‐wide adaptation plan or set of policies, or provides adaptation resources or tools, it is our intent to represent it within this report. The authors are continuously working to expand on the information included here, and sincerely hope this report will serve as a resource for collaboration and information sharing among the growing adaptation community.


Pew Center on Global Climate Change. (2010). Climate change adaptation: What federal agencies are doing. Retrieved from CAKE: