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WH to Address Climate Change Econ Risk 10/15 06:06


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Biden administration is taking steps to address the 
economic risks from climate change, issuing a 40-page report Friday on 
government-wide plans to protect the financial, insurance and housing markets 
and the savings of American families.

   Under the report, the mortgage process, stock market disclosures, retirement 
plans, federal procurement and government budgeting are all being reconsidered 
so the country could price in the risks being created by climate change. The 
report is a follow-up to a May executive order by President Joe Biden that 
essentially calls on the government to analyze how extreme heat, flooding, 
storms, wildfires and broader adjustments to address climate change could 
affect the world's largest economy.

   "If this year has shown us anything, it's that climate change poses an 
ongoing urgent and systemic risk to our economy and to the lives and 
livelihoods of everyday Americans, and we must act now," Gina McCarthy, the 
White House national climate adviser, told reporters.

   A February storm in Texas led to widespread power outages, 210 deaths and 
severe property damage. Wildfires raged in Western states. The heat dome in the 
Pacific Northwest caused record temperatures in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. 
Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana in August and caused deadly flooding in the 

   The actions being recommended by the Biden administration reflect a 
significant shift in the broader discussion about climate change, suggesting 
that the nation must prepare for the costs that families, investors and 
governments will bear.

   The report is also an effort to showcase to the world how serious the U.S. 
government is about tackling climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate 
Change Conference running from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.

   Among the steps outlined is the government's Financial Stability Oversight 
Council developing the tools to identify and lessen climate-related risks to 
the economy. The Treasury Department plans to address the risks to the 
insurance sector and availability of coverage. The Securities and Exchange 
Commission is looking at mandatory disclosure rules about the opportunities and 
risks generated by climate change.

   The Labor Department on Wednesday proposed a rule for investment managers to 
factor environmental decisions into the choices made for pensions and 
retirement savings. The Office of Management and Budget announced the 
government will begin the process of asking federal agencies to consider 
greenhouse gas emissions from the companies providing supplies. Biden's budget 
proposal for fiscal 2023 will feature an assessment of climate risks.

   Federal agencies involved in lending and mortgages for homes are looking for 
the impact on the housing market, with the Department of Housing and Urban 
Development and its partners developing disclosures for homebuyers and flood 
and climate-related risks. The Department of Veterans Affairs will also look at 
climate risks for its home lending program.

   The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating the standards for its 
National Flood Insurance Program, potentially revising guidelines that go back 
to 1976.

   "We now do recognize that climate change is a systemic risk," McCarthy said. 
"We have to look fundamentally at the way the federal government does its job 
and how we look at the finance system and its stability."

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