- Commerce Department foresees economic disruptions due to climate change, but also an increased demand for innovation and sustainable technologies
- Several agencies have issued climate actions plans to highlight and address climate change risks
- Commerce Department sees procurement as an essential driver of developing climate resilience
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
Climate change poses the risk of disruptions to American consumers and economic infrastructure, but is also likely to drive increased innovation and demand for sustainable technologies, according to the Commerce Department.
The department, along with more than 20 other federal agencies, has developed a climate action plan to highlight and address significant climate risks. The effort is part of the Biden administration’s prioritization of climate adaptation and resilience planning by federal agencies after it was suspended during the Trump administration.
The Commerce Department says a substantial portion of the United States GDP is dependent on weather and climate. For this reason, the department is looking to deliver timely and reliable information on climate issues to assist the private sector as well as local and state governments to make decisions necessary to support economic growth, promote resilience, address risks, and pursue opportunities.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the United States to develop and produce advanced technologies, export them around the world, and speed global net-zero transitions,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Rimando. “This work will ultimately lead to good-paying jobs and better technology for the world’s fight against climate change.”
The Commerce Department’s report identifies disruptions to ports, other transportation infrastructure, and supply chains as a major risk resulting from climate change. It anticipates that this will harm U.S. exports, challenge the department’s ability to maintain healthy economies and ecosystems in coastal communities, and have a direct effect on U.S. consumer behavior.
The department anticipates that its ability to provide procurement opportunities will be essential to driving innovation and increasing resilience against supply chain disruptions and for creating “equitable economic opportunities and invest[ing] in and maintain[ing] climate-ready and resilient facilities, products, and services.” It suggests that one of the major challenges for the Commerce Department will be its ability to process patent applications for sustainable technology as climate change drives greater interest and innovation in this area.
In addition to improving its patent processing ability, the department expects to develop “forward-looking” building standards to meet climate resilience, improve data analyses on how climate issues are affecting the economy, and embed climate considerations into the Economic Development Administration’s grant making processes.
The report suggests that climate issues can be promoted as a way to create market opportunities domestically and internationally, establish new businesses, improve advanced technologies, and create quality jobs. It also notes how the need for sustainable technologies and clean energy can create a competitive advantage for American manufacturers, and that the Biden administration’s commitment to developing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 has the potential to create 44,000 direct jobs and 33,000 onshore jobs.