Climate change is one of those rare issues that touches every aspect of our economic, social, and physical security. The United States continues to be one of the planet’s highest-emitting countries, reflecting high fossil fuel use, inefficient land development, and unsustainable agriculture practices. Extreme weather events from wildfires in the west to hurricanes in the east grow in frequency each year, while more gradual challenges such as natural ecosystem loss, urban heat islands, and persistent droughts are only intensifying. The net effect is a population facing deep financial risks, unchecked environmental injustice, and profound uncertainty about how to manage future growth.

However, the climate crisis also offers opportunities for a new growth model. Transitioning to a net-zero-emission economy by 2050—a stated goal of President Joe Biden and many global peers—will require new economic architecture to support it, including infrastructure, education, financial instruments, and regulation. New career opportunities will emerge, new financial instruments will be introduced, and new products and services will be invented. If managed successfully, our transition to a clean economy can also build a more just, inclusive, and entrepreneurial society.

The United States cannot respond to this crisis alone. Climate change is the ultimate global issue, with emissions anywhere affecting the climate everywhere. The United States has a moral responsibility to work alongside our global peers, and the planet will benefit if American innovators can design new solutions for emerging problems. Meanwhile, our people will benefit from using international products and services that can reduce our destructive footprint at home. Global engagement also has the benefit of promoting democracy abroad, since those norms are still the most effective way to broker compromise and hold one another accountable. The planet needs the United States to be part of productive climate action.

To advance resilient outcomes within the federal government, Joseph W. Kane, Jenny Schuetz, Shalini Vajjhala, and Adie Tomer suggest we first focus on the built environment and our need to address unsustainable land use systems. They recommend establishing a Climate Planning Unit within the White House Office of Management and Budget to focus on reducing the fiscal impacts of climate change. Such an office could take a whole-of-government view to climate risk mitigation, focusing on both quick wins and opportunities for long-term structural change—doing right by the environment, the people, and the federal budget in the process.

Read the full article about federal responses to climate change by Samantha Gross and Adie Tomer at Brookings.