Last year, record-smashing weather or climate disasters cost more than $95 billion
Washington (February 3, 2021) – With news that 2020 tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today announced the re-introduction of 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, originally introduced in January 2020, 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. Last year, a record-smashing 22 multibillion-dollar weather and climate disasters cost the United States a combined $95 billion in damages. FEMA, as the federal agency charged with responding to climate events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding, is in a powerful position to determine and mitigate climate risks, and to help the country prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-fueled events. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-09) re-introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Our climate is changing, and FEMA should too,” said Senator Markey. “Climate change has fueled a devastating rise in extreme weather disasters, making FEMA’s job of protecting Americans more critical and more challenging than ever before. For FEMA to fulfill its important duty in a new and uncertain world, climate must be at the forefront of the agency’s planning and mission. All relevant agency policies, plans, programs, strategies, and operations must incorporate and center climate change, and this legislation will ensure that our national lifeline against natural disasters stays in top condition. I thank Rep. Clarke for her partnership on this critical legislation.”
“Like so many Americans, I watched in horror last year as wildfires and storms ravaged our nation. Climate change is a crisis,” said Rep. Clarke. “Our duty in Congress is to take bold action to tackle climate-warming emissions and protect the American public from future negative climate impacts. My legislation with Senator Markey, the FEMA Climate Change Preparedness Act, will ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is fully equipped to help our communities prepare for and recover from the natural disaster implications of climate change.” 
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 supports the FEMA Climate Change Preparedness Act, which directs FEMA to address and incorporate the latest climate change science in its planning and policies,” said Shana Udvardy, climate resilience analyst at UCS. “By preparing for climate change, FEMA will be able to better protect communities and invest tax dollars wisely. The establishment of a diverse public-private advisory council will help ensure FEMA’s actions are grounded on the needs and priorities of local communities, especially those that have been historically disadvantaged or disproportionately affected by climate impacts. This bill underscores the fact that the climate crisis is here and now, and that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to help prepare for a more stormy future.”