U.S. Embassies Face Rising Danger from Local weather Change, Authorities Watchdog Says

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State Division personnel working at embassies and consulates around the globe face heightened security and safety dangers from local weather disasters—significantly in international locations ravaged by storms, warmth and drought, say federal watchdogs.

Investigators with the Authorities Accountability Workplace discovered that the threat to “diplomatic property” is rising at lots of the State Division’s practically 300 posts in 180 international locations. Greater than half of the highest-risk amenities are in East Asia and the Pacific.

“In line with State, the growing quantity and severity of pure hazards because of local weather change heightens the chance of harm to … abroad places (posts) and actual property property, together with the workplace buildings, assist amenities, and employees residences that comprise these posts,” GAO researchers discovered.

GAO is an impartial company that works for Congress.

The embassy going through the best local weather threat, based on the report, is situated in Manila, Philippines, the place the State Division employs roughly 300 U.S. international service officers at a sprawling compound on Manila Bay. The embassy has flooded twice during the last decade, first from a 2012 storm and extra lately from an excessive rain final August, GAO mentioned.

In all, 32 embassies ranked within the highest class for local weather catastrophe threat, from Apia, Samoa, to Valletta, Malta. Others embody a number of the State Division’s largest and most strategic embassies, similar to Beijing, Baghdad and Mexico Metropolis.

The American Embassy in Iraq is one among six within the Center East going through the best threat. Cairo, Egypt, can be among the many most susceptible to excessive local weather occasions.

The GAO report examined seven local weather catastrophe varieties: tsunamis, excessive warmth, excessive wind, coastal flooding, riverine flooding, landslides and water safety. The bureau additionally assessed threat from earthquakes, which aren’t thought-about local weather disasters. Between 2021 to 2035, the variety of State Division abroad amenities affected by excessive warmth might greater than double, based on the report.

Investigators assigned threat scores to 294 embassies, consulates and different amenities with a mixed property worth of roughly $70 billion, GAO mentioned. The scores had been derived from threat screenings lately accomplished by the State Division’s Bureau of Abroad Buildings Operations (OBO) to satisfy President Joe Biden’s 2021 government order for a governmentwide evaluation of local weather change dangers to nationwide safety.

“OBO has the lead position in buying websites, designing, establishing, working, and sustaining the embassies, consulates, employees housing, and assist amenities that comprise U.S. diplomatic posts,” the report famous.

In line with the company, a typical embassy compound is in an city space on a roughly 10-acre web site. Typically, U.S. employees housing is situated near and even inside embassy grounds because of safety considerations.

GAO mentioned vulnerability components could also be particular to an embassy or consulate, together with the age and situation of the amenities and ease of evacuation throughout a hazard, or countrywide, similar to adequacy of a rustic or area’s energy grid, clear water and sanitation availability, and entry to well being care.

In an official response, the State Division requested GAO to offer “any regional observations, interpretations, and conclusions proposed” within the report to assist inform the “anticipated development trajectory and crucial resourcing” for OBO’s local weather safety and resilience program.

Reprinted from E&E Information with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E Information offers important information for vitality and surroundings professionals.

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