The United States executive agency response to climate change has been driven by direction from the Office of the President through Executive Orders and under the initiative of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance” on October 5, 2009. This Order required federal agencies to develop Climate Adaptation Plans to evaluate their climate change risks and vulnerabilities, and to manage the effects of climate change on each agency's operations and mission in both the short and long term.
The President subsequently signed EO 13653 on November 1, 2013: "Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change." EO 13653 requires each agency to develop, implement, and update comprehensive Agency Climate Adaptation Plans that integrate consideration of climate change into agency operations and overall mission objectives. In compliance with these Executive Orders, NASA developed its "Climate Risk Management Plan."
The White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Management and Budget, provide templates and guidance for completing the Climate Adaptation Plan as part of larger agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans. In addition to the Climate Risk Management Plan produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and United States Geological Survey (USGS) responded to a call for information from the NASA Johnson Space Center in spring 2015 for their climate change adaptation and sustainability plans.
This toolkit includes recent examples of Climate Adaptation Plans produced by NASA, USACE, USGS, and the USDA. The information included in these plans was defined by the following series of strategic directions and required responses, which have been modified to apply to the City of Houston (hereafter referred to as City) as a potential strategic model.
As an overview, the City of Houston’s strategic plan for Climate Adaptation should include:
- Update City external programs and policies (including grants, loans, technical assistance, etc.) to incentivize planning for, and addressing the impacts of, climate change. Identify names of relevant programs or policies.
- Update City emergency response procedures and protocols to account for projected climate change, including extreme weather events.
- Ensure City workforce protocols and policies reflect projected human health and safety impacts of climate change.
- Ensure City Departments, Offices, and Principals demonstrate commitment to adaptation efforts through internal communications and policies.
- Identify vulnerable communities within the City, and surrounding metropolitan area that are served by the City, and are potentially impacted by climate change and identify measures to address those vulnerabilities where possible.
- Ensure that City climate adaptation and resilience policies and programs reflect best available current climate change science, updated as necessary. (This Toolkit provides a listing of Federal resources to access climate science data, tools, and training to help address this strategic direction.)
- Design and construct new or modify/manage existing City facilities and/or infrastructure to account for the potential impacts of projected climate change.
- Incorporate climate preparedness and resilience into planning and implementation guidelines for City-implemented projects.
- Ensure climate change adaptation is integrated into both City-wide and regional planning efforts, in coordination with Federal and State agencies as well as local partners, Tribal governments, and private stakeholders.
These guidelines address City building codes and infrastructure to protect citizens from extreme weather, strategically manage resources, and rapidly recover from damage.