Wednesday, August 10

with Biden, FEMA reprioritizes the climate crisis

(CNN) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the president of the United States, Joe Biden, gives a privileged position to the climate crisis in its new strategic planning document to four years, after the Trump administration will erase all mention of the weather from its previous plan.

Addressing climate resilience is one of the top three goals outlined in FEMA’s 2022-2026 plan, outlining how it will respond to disasters and spend federal funds. The document was first shared with CNN.

The new plan not only reverses that of the Trump administration, but puts even more emphasis on the climate crisis than the plans produced by the Obama administration.

FEMA weather

President Joe Biden participates in a hurricane season briefing at FEMA headquarters in May.

“We must recognize that we are facing a climate crisis and educate ourselves and the nation about the impacts that our climate change has on the field of emergency management,” Biden’s FEMA Administrator Deanne said in the plan. Criswell.

What is included in the FEMA plan

The plan emphasizes understanding how the climate is changing and exacerbating natural disasters – more frequent floods, wetter hurricanes, and increasingly destructive wildfires – and also outlines how the agency will attempt to distribute funds more equitably to historically communities. neglected.

“The intersection of the severe impacts of climate change and the reality of inequalities that exist in communities before a disaster strikes is what we are aggressively addressing at FEMA,” Criswell told CNN in a statement.

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The new document focuses on three key areas: a focus on equity in emergency management response and diversifying the agency’s workforce, strengthening climate resilience across the country, and strengthening its workforce. emergency management.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing emergency managers today, and it will continue to shape for decades to come,” the plan reads. According to the document, the agency will merge climate science into its policy, programs, partnerships, field operations and training, according to the report.

This camera recorded how a glacier disappears in 6 weeks 0:43

Flood mitigation

The report also highlights FEMA’s plans to help communities adapt to climate change. FEMA will use most of the $ 6.8 billion it received from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to help communities deal with natural disasters, including floods.

Flood mitigation can mean a number of things, including the elevation of homes and buildings that have been repeatedly affected by floods. FEMA can also use funds to offer acquisitions to residents whose homes are being eaten away by rising sea levels.

“FEMA no longer sees itself as just a response agency, but as a true resilience agency,” White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy says in the report.

The Biden administration is talking about climate change far more than even previous Democratic administrations. Craig Fugate, a former FEMA administrator with Obama, told CNN that weather hadn’t been a big part of the agency’s disaster planning until Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“Until that point, we weren’t strictly dealing with the weather,” said Fugate, now the director of resilience at software company One Concern. He added that when Sandy happened, “it was becoming more apparent that the climate had already changed and we were not adapted to it.”

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Equity is another great focus on the plan. FEMA’s plan says the agency will require “underserved communities to be able to access and leverage FEMA resources in ways that meet their needs,” and remove barriers to federal funding and programs for smaller, underserved communities that are understaffed. and emergency managers.

Fugate said FEMA’s concerted emphasis on equity is remarkable and can be directed toward what he called the “resilience divide,” where the most vulnerable communities are left behind by federal funding formulas that can prioritize richer tax bases, and that wealthier communities with planners can make the most of it.

In the past, FEMA “was very focused on avoiding risk measured in dollars,” Fugate told CNN. “The most vulnerable communities have been left behind; historically we have been measuring mitigation in dollars.”

Fugate said any change the agency can make that “measures impacts on people as the primary driver rather than dollars” would be a welcome development.

“It was never the intention of the show to do that, but by focusing solely on dollars … it created that scenario,” he said.

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