FEMA to Require States to Examine Climate Risks

by | Oct 3, 2014

Climate changeThe Federal Emergency Management Agency will soon require states to examine the impacts of global warming on their communities as a condition for receiving federal disaster preparedness funding, according to draft guidelines released by the agency earlier this month.

States hoping to get federal funding for disaster preparedness must conduct a formal analysis of all the risks their communities face from human-caused and natural hazards, as well as potential policies and projects to deal with these risks. The projects must lessen the physical and economic impacts of disasters, such as buying sandbags for floodwaters or retrofitting buildings to withstand earthquakes.

Under the new guidelines, the plans must be approved by FEMA before states can get federal grant money to carry out these projects.

The move represents a significant change in the agency’s practice of reacting to disasters fueled by climate change rather than preparing for them in advance, according to Rob Moore of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every dollar spent on disaster mitigation saves four dollars in disaster recovery.

Under the new rule, if states ignore global warming in their plans, FEMA could theoretically reject those plans, effectively cutting off those states’ federal disaster funding. The new rule, made alongside several others not related to climate, is open to public comment until Oct. 17.

According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Program last year, it was noted that extreme weather events, water scarcity, biodiversity loss and other global warming-related changes in the environment will increasingly affect businesses and how they operate.

Similarly, in a paper published by the Center for International Governance Innovation earlier this year, it was stated that real progress on climate change will not be achieved until heads of state, governments and ministers of finance see the global problem as a major economic challenge.

Photo Credit: Climate change via Shutterstock

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