FEMA’s recently-released Strategic Plan doesn’t mention climate change


Washington (January 16, 2020) – With news that the past decade was the hottest on record, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today introduced legislation to ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incorporates climate change into its duties and priorities as extreme weather becomes more extreme and severe. The FEMA Climate Change Preparedness Act would create a subcommittee to FEMA’s National Advisory Council that would explicitly focus on climate change and direct FEMA to include climate risks in its strategic planning. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-09) had previously introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.


“With FEMA on the front lines of the devastation caused by climate change, climate change must be at the forefront of the agency’s mission,”said Senator Markey. “Ignoring the increased risk of severe hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and drought would be a man-made disaster for the agency tasked with preparing for and responding to the natural disasters that will only continue to increase as part of the ongoing climate emergency. We need to ensure that FEMA integrates climate change into all relevant agency policies, plans, programs, strategies, and operations. I thank Rep. Clarke for her partnership on this critical legislation.”


“I am thrilled that Sen. Ed Markey – one of the most vocal proponents of climate change legislation – will be introducing a counter-part to my bill in the Senate,” said Rep. Clarke. “If the Trump administration will not address climate change on its own, then it is up to Congress to step in. Our legislation, the FEMA Climate Change Preparedness Act, will ensure that FEMA is adequately prepared to assess climate change risks and protect our communities as climate change causes sea-levels to rise and increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. As the Agency charged with protecting Americans from natural disaster threats and impacts, it is inexplicable to me that climate change has been entirely left out of FEMA’s Strategic Plan, as well as the Agency’s recently released National Preparedness Report. Climate change is a crisis, and it is our duty in Congress to take bold steps to tackle climate warming emissions and protect the American public from future climate impacts.”


A copy of the legislation can be found HERE


Specifically, the legislation:

  • Directs FEMA to immediately re-insert climate change risks and impacts into the Agency’s current Strategic Plan, and all future plans;
  • Makes it the official policy of FEMA to recognize climate change as a significant near and long-term threat to United States homeland security;
  • Establishes a Climate Change Subcommittee to FEMA’s National Advisory Council to make national preparedness recommendations pertaining solely to climate change risks and impacts; 
  • Directs FEMA to perform a national assessment on climate change risks and preparedness, to be updated every four years.


“The Union of Concerned Scientists applauds the introduction of the FEMA Climate Change Preparedness Act, which seeks to end FEMA’s current practice of omitting the latest climate change science in its planning and policy making to ensure that communities are better protected and taxpayer dollars spent more wisely,” said Shana Udvardy, Climate Resilience Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists. “It would also establish a diverse public-private advisory council so that FEMA’s actions are grounded on local preparedness needs, especially for those communities that may be disproportionately impacted by climate impacts. This bill underscores the fact that the climate crisis is here and now, and that we need all hands on deck to help prepare for a more stormy future.”