aside GAO Published Climate Change Economic Effects On The Federal Government


The GAO (US Governmental Accountability Office) is the auditing arm of the US government devised to insure that the various agencies are operating efficiently and/ or to identify systemic inefficiencies as well as making recommendations for improvements.

On September 28, 2017, the GAO (US Governmental Accountability Office) published the following report,  “CLIMATE CHANGE: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure,”

Map of the United States showing potential effects of climate change.


 What GAO Found

Methods used to estimate the potential economic effects of climate change in the United States—using linked climate science and economics models—are based on developing research. The methods and the studies that use them produce imprecise results because of modeling and other limitations but can convey insight into potential climate damages across sectors in the United States.

The two available national-scale studies that examine the economic effects of climate change across U.S. sectors suggested that potential economic effects could be significant and unevenly distributed across sectors and regions. For example, for 2020 through 2039, one study estimated between $4 billion and $6 billion in annual coastal property damages from sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms. Also, under this study, the Southeast likely faces greater effects than other regions because of coastal property damages (see figure).

Examples of Potential Economic Effects of Climate Change by 2100

Examples of Potential Economic Effects of Climate Change by 2100

“Information about the potential economic effects of climate change could inform decision makers about significant potential damages in different U.S. sectors or regions. According to several experts and prior GAO work, this information could help federal decision makers identify significant climate risks as an initial step toward managing such risks. This is consistent with, for example, National Academies leading practices, which call for climate change risk management efforts that focus on where immediate attention is needed. The federal government has not undertaken strategic government-wide planning to manage climate risks by using information on the potential economic effects of climate change to identify significant risks and craft appropriate federal responses. By using such information, the federal government could take an initial step in establishing government-wide priorities to manage such risks.”

Why GAO Did This Study

“Over the last decade, extreme weather and fire events have cost the federal government over $350 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. These costs will likely rise as the climate changes, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. In February 2013, GAO included Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks on its High-Risk List.”

“GAO was asked to review the potential economic effects of climate change and risks to the federal government. This report examines (1) methods used to estimate the potential economic effects of climate change in the United States, (2) what is known about these effects, and (3) the extent to which information about these effects could inform efforts to manage climate risks across the federal government. GAO reviewed 2 national-scale studies available and 28 other studies; interviewed 26 experts knowledgeable about the strengths and limitations of the studies; compared federal efforts to manage climate risks with leading practices for risk management and economic analysis; and obtained expert views.”

What GAO Recommends

“GAO recommends that the appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President (EOP), including the Office of Science and Technology Policy, use information on potential economic effects to help identify significant climate risks and craft appropriate federal responses. EOP entities and the Environmental Protection Agency did not provide official comments on the report.”

Link to entire report: U.S. GAO – Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects


  1. Gronda, well done. This post goes in tandem with Jill’s piece. Note this the first of two reports from within the federal government that contradicts the President and his EPA and Energy Directors. On the positive side, the US states, cities and businesses represented at the Bonn meetings are carrying a banner dropped by the White House. It frustrates me that our all-knowing leader chose to cede a leadership position on climate change and we are now a party of one.

    I am slowly reading the book “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn which discusses his people in these and three other land/ water based industries are dealing with the impact of climate change. I cited in a comment to Jill the statement made in the book by the Director of Agro-economics at Kansas State University noting of course climate change is man/influenced, but we cannot talk in those terms with our politicians and just focus on specifics problems.


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    • Dear Keith,

      The issues of dealing with climate change and access to medical care should be in the top 5 issues championed by democrats in upcoming elections along with pushing for folks to earn a living wage.

      We need investment in infrastructure to mitigate for climate change’s negative consequences. We need to better prepared for extreme weather conditions.

      It is virtually impossible to work on solutions if you are not allowed to admit the problem exists, This is where the republicans have positioned us.

      Hugs, Gronda


      • Gronda, I agree. Democrats should highlight the many efforts on renewable energy. Too many Americans don’t realize that we are passed a tipping point. Healthcare must be emphasized. What the Republicans are advocating is counter to what most Americans want. And, on both issues, the GOP is not being truthful. Keith

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