WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has failed to consistently assess risks from extreme weather or climate change and has not considered climate projections in individual facilities project designs to mitigate future damage, the government’s independent watchdog group says.
The Pentagon is supposed to increase the resilience of facilities to the impact of extreme weather and climate change through a detailed, in-depth installation facilities planning process and through individual facilities project designs but there is, among other issues, “a lack of guidance on how to do so,” the General Accounting Office said in a report issued Wednesday.
“We found that DOD’s preliminary assessment of extreme weather and climate change effects at installations relied on past experience rather than an analysis of future vulnerabilities based on climate projections,” the GAO said. “Also, DOD’s designs for new construction at facilities generally did not consider climate projections, because DOD lacks guidance on how to do so.”
The U.S. military’s real estate worldwide has an estimated $1.2 trillion replacement value. Since 2010, the Pentagon has said that climate change is a threat to its operations and installations.
GAO was asked to assess DOD’s progress in developing a means to account for potentially damaging weather. The Pentagon said in January that the effects of a changing climate “are a national security issue with potential impacts to the department’s missions, operational plans, and installations,” according to the report.
“GAO also found that most of the installations had not used climate projections, because they lack guidance on how to incorporate projections into their master plans,” the GAO report said. “Not assessing risks or using climate projections in installation planning may expose DOD facilities to greater-than-anticipated damage or degradation as a result of extreme weather or climate-related effects.”
The watchdog agency made eight recommendations to the Pentagon, including that “the military departments work together to update master planning criteria to require an assessment of extreme weather and climate change risks and to incorporate DOD guidance on the use of climate projections into facilities design standards.”
This week the Pentagon also was urged to do better by the National Wildlife Federation in regards to meeting the threat of climate change,
“There is an operational need to ensure that current and future climatic changes do not compromise the ability of installations to serve their essential operational, training, and testing functions,” the NWF said Tuesday. “The approximately 25 million acres of land managed by DoD are integral to the military’s mission of keeping our nation secure.”