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Government Accountability Office adds climate change to influential High Risk Report

25 February 2013
Government Accountability Office adds climate change to influential High Risk Report

NEW YORK: For the first time ever, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), the auditing arm of Congress, listed climate change among its top financial risks to the US Government.

In the latest version of its biennial High Risk List, the agency states that:

“Climate change creates significant financial risks for the federal government, which owns extensive infrastructure, such as defense installations; insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program; and provides emergency aid in response to natural disasters. The federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by climate change, and needs a government wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks.”

The report goes on to identify the government’s 650 million acres of land, its Disaster Relief Fund, and its national flood and crop insurance programs as areas that are especially exposed to climate risk.

Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Head of the GAO, said: “Climate change poses risks to many environmental and economic systems — including agriculture, infrastructure, ecosystems and human health — and presents a significant financial risk to the federal government.”

Evan Juska, Head of US Policy for The Climate Group, said: “It’s significant because we’re at a point now where the Supreme Court, Department of Defense, National Academy of Sciences, Securities and Exchange Commission, and even the Government Accountability Office - Congress’ own independent watchdog - have said that climate change poses significant risks that the government needs to address. So going forward, it’s getting much harder for ‘skeptics’ in Congress to credibly deny that basic premise.”

Also added to the list in 2013 is “gaps in weather satellite data,” which helps the government forecast extreme weather events such as hurricanes, storm surges, and floods - bringing the total number of “high risks” to 30.

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