Government report calls on Trump to act on climate change

GAO says US could face higher costs

Headline Goes Here Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee and his economic team Oct. 18, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A government report released Monday is sounding an alarm over the threat of climate change, and the government's response.

The US government has spent more than $350 billion over the past decade in response to extreme weather and fire events, and the Government Accountability Office report estimated the US would incur far higher costs as the years progress if global emission rates don't go down.

In the report, GAO called on President Donald Trump to use the information GAO compiled to help identify risks posed by climate change and "craft appropriate federal responses."

The US has seen billions of dollars in damage from hurricanes and wildfires this year, which experts say climate change exacerbated. Congress is due this week to consider another multi-billion dollar aid package to help Puerto Rico after it was hit by back-to-back hurricanes.

The GAO provides nonpartisan information to members of Congress, including audits of government activities and reports about public policy. Its latest report was requested by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington.

The New York Times first reported the existence of the GAO climate change report.

The Obama administration took several steps to combat the severity of climate change over the next century. Among them was the Environmental Protection Agency's clean power plan, which sought to lower carbon emissions on a state-by-state basis, and the Paris climate agreement, which saw almost every country agree to voluntary limits on future carbon emissions.

The Trump administration has in many respects changed course, with Trump announcing in June his intention for the US to exit the Paris agreement and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announcing the end to the clean power plan this month.

The report outlined years' worth of shortcomings from the government with respect to addressing the climate change threat. By February 17, the report found that federal agencies were working on some strategic planning efforts, but the nature of those was unclear.

Some of those efforts, the report said, were rescinded when Trump issued an executive order in March.

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