The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is once again considering climate change in its strategic planning after a plan released during the Trump administration did not include it.
FEMA, the country’s disaster preparedness agency, made resilience to climate change one of the three main goals of its new strategic plan for the years 2022 through 2026 released on Thursday.
The new plan calls for the agency to build an understanding of climate science and use it to help make communities resistant to the damage it can cause.
This stands in stark contrast to the agency’s plan for 2018 through 2022, released during the Trump administration, which doesn’t have a single mention of climate change.
Instead, it said it would consider “new pathways to long-term disaster risk reduction, including increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation.”
At the time, an agency spokesperson told NPR that "it is evident that this strategic plan fully incorporates future risks from all hazards regardless of cause.”
But the Biden administration argues that the country needs to plan for climate change since it has implications for emergency preparedness.
“We must recognize that we are facing a climate crisis and educate ourselves and the nation about the impacts our changing climate pose to the field of emergency management,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell wrote in a letter accompanying the plan.
“We must integrate planning for future conditions, move away from incremental mitigation measures, and focus on large projects that protect infrastructure and community systems,” Criswell wrote.
The plan also puts more focus on climate change than the Obama administration’s 2014 strategic plan. That plan has several mentions of climate change but doesn’t explicitly name it among the agency’s priorities.
The Biden administration’s plan calls for FEMA to use grant programs to help communities make investments in protecting themselves from climate-related disasters.
Specifically, it endorses projects like disaster-resistant building codes.
It also says it will try to increase climate literacy both in the emergency management community and in communities. And it says that climate modeling within the agency should be expanded.
Climate change is making storms like hurricanes more intense and also contributes to the frequency of other extreme weather events.