FEMA Expands Climate-Focused Initiatives

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For more than 50 years Earth Day has drawn attention to protecting the planet and ensuring a sustainable future. FEMA continues to make progress toward leading the nation in climate resilience.

This effort requires work on multiple fronts to realize our mission to help people before, during and after disasters. The following are some climate-focused highlights from the last year.

DHS Joins Global Change Research Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) became the 14th member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP); its first new member in almost two decades. FEMA will serve as the first representative for DHS and brings important insights and perspectives to USGCRP, including its experience in preparing the nation for and responding to more-frequent natural disasters.

The USGCRP coordinates federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society. They also lead the development of the National Climate Assessment.

New Hazard Mitigation Planning Policies to Address Future Risk

The National Mitigation Planning Program released the next generation of the State Mitigation Planning Policy Guide and Local Mitigation Planning Policy Guide / Guía de políticas de planificación de mitigación a nivel local in April 2022. The policies reinforce resilience as a Whole Community effort.

State, tribal and local hazard mitigation plans must address current and future risks, including those from climate change, land use and population change. The policies position mitigation planning to be integrated with other complementary community actions, such as climate adaptation, resilience and sustainability planning initiatives. These efforts build state and local capabilities and help jurisdictions plan for long-term risk reduction, climate change and more-equitable outcomes.

Reducing Emissions through the Inflation Reduction Act

On Aug. 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was signed into law, marking a historic commitment to build a new clean energy economy and tackle the climate crisis. The act authorizes FEMA to fund costs associated with low-carbon materials, even when the costs are higher than those for conventional materials, to help cut carbon pollution and build back cleaner and more resilient.

In March, FEMA announced it will make grant funds available to communities for low-carbon materials used in disaster recovery and climate resilience projects. States, tribes, territories and local communities will now have more access to cleaner building materials through eligible FEMA programs to rebuild from disasters or become more resilient to climate change.

Advancing Nature-Based Solutions Education

Nature-based solutions are sustainable planning, design, environmental management and engineering practices that weave natural features or processes into the built environment to promote adaptation and resilience. They offer significant benefits often at a lower cost than more traditional infrastructure. To advance nature-based solutions, FEMA created the Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions Series.

The first guide, “A Guide for Local Communities,” provides foundational information on the benefits associated with using nature-based solutions to advance natural hazard mitigation and climate adaptation. The newest guide, “Strategies for Success,” builds upon the first and highlights five key strategies for implementing successful nature-based solution projects to advance natural hazard mitigation and climate adaptation.

Using the guides as a foundation, FEMA partnered with the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center and is excited to announce the availability of an agency-certified Nature-Based Solutions for Mitigating Hazards training.

Collaborating on the ClimRR Portal

FEMA joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and AT&T to launch the Climate Risk and Resilience Portal (ClimRR), which advances access to cutting-edge science for climate projections to help improve the nation’s preparedness for future climate extremes.

ClimRR provides peer-reviewed climate datasets in a non-technical format and puts high-resolution, forward-looking climate insights into the hands of those who need them most. Community leaders and public safety officials can now understand how increasing climate risks will affect their populations. This information will assist leaders as they strategically invest in infrastructure and response capabilities to protect communities for future generations.

Building Alliances for Climate Action

Communities across the nation can refer to a new resource from FEMA’s Resilient Nation Partnership Network (RNPN), NASA, and over 30 partners to learn how they can address the climate crisis. “Building Alliances for Climate Action” provides various perspectives, personal stories, insights and resources about climate change.

At a time when many are searching for direction on how to address the climate crisis, this resource represents a unifying voice, helping guide the Whole Community forward. The RNPN represents a diverse network of voices united in their commitment to help communities act and become more resilient toward natural disasters and climate-related events. The Network started as a handful of like-minded individuals and has flourished to more than 1,500 organizations represented.

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