Climate Impact and Risk Reporting

FASAB Contact: Robin Gilliam, gilliamr@fasab.gov, 202-512-7356

Research Objective:

Staff will research the climate-related impacts to federal property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) and adaption activities to ensure the resilience of federal PP&E for the Board to consider approving a project to update any missing accounting and financial reporting guidance.

History of Board Activities

December 15-16, 2020

At the December meeting, staff coordinated an education session to inform members about the fiscal exposure and climate risk for the federal government. There were four subject matter experts on the panel:

  • Adam Smith, the lead scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) U.S. Billion-dollar Weather and Climate Disasters research, analysis and public/private data partnerships
  • J. Alfredo Gómez, a director of the Natural Resources and Environment team of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • Joe Thompson, an assistant director in GAO’s Natural Resources and Environment team
  • Ann Kosmal, an architect at the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings

Climate Education Session: Fiscal Exposure and Climate Risk for the Federal Government Briefing materials – TAB F

At the December meeting, staff also proposed a technical plan for a climate impact and risk reporting project due to an extensive history of staff outreach and interest concerning climate impact on federal property, plant and equipment (PP&E).

Staff outreach included a toolbox of available standards for a presentation titled Federal Accounting for Climate-Related Events. (Please see appendix A in tab G to view the slide deck.) Staff has presented this toolbox numerous times with continued requests from many organizations.

In addition to the extensive staff outreach on this topic, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a report titled Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System, with the following [7B] recommendation related to FASAB:

United States should direct the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board to study and pilot the development of climate-related federal accounting standards, disclosure procedures and practices for U.S. Government departments, agencies, and administrative units.                         

Members deliberated and came to the following agreements:

  • This is an important issue but in a pre-project research phase.
  • Staff should present a clear scope and objectives through outputs and outcomes.
  • Understanding the event that triggers accounting for adaption and resilience is necessary; however, if the event relates to policy it could be difficult to develop related accounting standards.
  • Forward-looking risk exposure discussed in the MD&A is not limited to climate.
  • The Board will determine in the future whether this is a standalone project or included in another project, such as MD&A or reexamination of existing standards.

Briefing materials – TAB G