As part of President Obama’s continuing focus on addressing climate change, the White House budget office on Wednesday tasked agencies with “taking new steps to code it into the DNA of how we do business,” according to a blog post summarizing a new circular.
“Climate action makes fiscal and economic sense,” wrote Ali Zaidi, associate director for natural resources, energy and science at the Office of Management and Budget. Hence “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” as they prepare their fiscal 2017 budget requests.
The move expands on Obama’s climate-change executive order of Nov. 1, 2013. “Climate-smart will take on different meaning for each agency and asset,” Zaidi said. “Our federal portfolio of real estate is incredibly diverse, from office buildings to hospitals to laboratories to warehouses and beyond.” The Defense Department alone manages 560,000 facilities, and “the critical domestic and national security missions they support are vulnerable to climate-related extreme weather events–like hurricanes, wildfire, floods, and drought,” he noted.
Zaidi singled out the National Park Service for identifying more than $40 billion in national park infrastructure and historic and cultural resources put at risk by rising sea levels.
The administration, he added, is also working to curb taxpayers’ exposure to the impact of climate change through up-front investments, “grants, technical assistance, and programs in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief.”