Climate change represents a profound crisis for the nation, making natural disasters more frequent, more intense, and more destructive. In 2020 alone, there were 22 weather and climate disaster events, with total losses exceeding $1 billion across the U.S. In comparison, the previous record set in both 2011 and 2017 was 16 disasters.
The growing severity of disasters increases the time it takes for communities to recover — a process that can be further complicated by repeat events in areas already struggling to bounce back.
These cascading and compounding impacts, propelled by climate change, pose the greatest risk to our communal and nationwide resilience.
The emergency management field must anticipate the increasing demands generated by more extreme and frequent disasters — from wildfires and coastal storms to inland flooding. Additionally, emergency managers must learn to manage and support climate-related emergencies such as drought and extreme heat. To help confront these threats, FEMA will enhance the nation’s ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to future climate conditions. This starts with fostering a common understanding of how climate change will reshape emergency management, and includes building better resources and tools to drive FEMA’s understanding of future risk and enhance the agency’s ability to act.
With the support of these tools, FEMA can engage the agency’s state, local, tribal, territory, private sector, and nonprofit partners in developing climate resilience through systems-based, community-wide investments in climate adaptation. Natural disasters often disproportionately affect people in underserved communities where weakened infrastructure, fewer resources, and less support to invest in hazard mitigation can compound a disaster’s impact. Therefore, equity and environmental justice considerations must be cornerstones of how the nation builds resilience. FEMA must make targeted efforts to increase resilience for underserved individuals and communities.
Through close collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territory governments, community-based organizations, and the private sector, FEMA will take a people first approach to increase climate literacy, develop tools, and allocate resources informed by future risk estimates to target investments to create a more equitable and resilient nation. The agency will demonstrate its commitment to climate change mitigation strategies within its facilities.
"FEMA is no longer looking at itself as just a response agency but a true resilience agency.”– Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor