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Highlights

A 2009 assessment by the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) found that many types of extreme weather events, such as heat waves and regional droughts, have become more frequent and intense during the past 40 to 50 years. According to the assessment, changes in extreme weather and climate events will affect many aspects of society and the natural environment, such as infrastructure. In addition, the Department of Defense found that climate change may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on militaries around the world. According to the National Academies, USGCRP, and others, greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will continue altering the climate system into the future regardless of emissions control efforts. Therefore, adaptation--defined as adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change--is an important part of the response to climate change. This testimony addresses (1) the actions federal, state, and local authorities are taking to adapt to climate change; (2) the challenges that federal, state, and local officials face in their efforts to adapt and actions federal agencies could take to help address these challenges; and (3) the extent to which federal funding for adaptation and other climate change activities is consistently tracked and reported and aligned with strategic priorities. The information in this testimony is based on prior work, largely on GAO's recent reports on climate change adaptation and federal climate change funding.

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