March 16, 2018

Ignoring the Role Climate Change Plays in US Disasters Helps No One

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, Lead Economist and Climate Policy Manager

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2018)—The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—the government's disaster first responder—has scrubbed references to "climate change" from its four-year strategic plan released late yesterday.

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

"Removal of the term 'climate change' from FEMA's recently released strategic plan demonstrates the chilling effect the Trump administration's denialism is having on vital work of federal government agencies. You can't delete the reality of climate change or its impacts.

"FEMA's primary focus is helping states and communities prepare for and recover from disasters. Climate change is clearly contributing to the growing risks of many types of disasters, including extreme precipitation and flooding, drought, intensified storms and wildfires—a fact sadly underscored by 2017's record-breaking disasters. The federal government's Climate Science Special Report makes clear that these risks will only continue to grow in years to come.

"Even as FEMA is investing in actions to limit damage when future disasters strike and help affected communities recover when they do, it doesn't make sense to ignore the profound ways climate change is affecting all Americans.

"Now's the time for the administration and Congress to step up by providing more funding for communities to both become resilient ahead of disasters and to also rebuild in an equitable, more resilient way after disasters strike. They also need to ensure the nation's disaster planning and policies are robust and informed by the best available science. Muzzling agencies from speaking out about climate change and preventing them from planning for its impacts is a recipe for disaster."

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.