Currently, FEMA does not require that localities or states factor potential impacts of climate change into the risk assessment. FEMA does, however, provide guidance and tools for municipalities that wish to take this important extra step of assessing likely climate change impacts, mitigating their occurrences and preparing for changing environments. In addition to a section in its guidebook that provides a background on climate change and the ways in which a hazard mitigation planning team can integrate it into their plan, FEMA curated a webpage of resources for climate change adaptation planning. This webpage includes a sea level rise map tool and flood elevation calculator, funding resources for hazard mitigation projects that include sea level rise estimates, publications on climate change and climate change related policy.
Beyond the Basics includes a number of examples of places that integrate climate change into their hazard mitigation plans as standalone sections or as a concept that is weaved through multiple hazards. A list of these innovative examples and best practices in climate change can be found below. Also, for easy identification throughout the website, the climate change icon, taken from the IPCC Climate Change 2014 report, as seen on the right, is placed next to sections of the websites and examples of best practices that address climate change.
Exemplary plan: Baltimore, MD
Baltimore’s 2013 Hazard Mitigation Plan was created as part of a larger Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project. The Hazard Mitigation Plan does an excellent job of incorporating scientific knowledge of climate change into its fact base, capability assessment and mitigation action sections.
The plan uses clear, colorful graphics to explain the clearly complex process of climate change. The figure below, excerpted from the plan, shows how climate change and sea level rise can lead to coastal flooding.
Baltimore’s Hazard Mitigation Plan also does an excellent job of explaining linkages between it and the city’s 2012 Climate Action Plan. The Hazard Mitigation Plan, as described in the excerpt below, carries out recommendations made by the Climate Action Plan which included conducting vulnerability assessments and risk assessments and implementing land use and transportation strategies to save energy and reduce emissions.
Baltimore’s plan contains many great examples of integrating knowledge of climate change into mitigation action. The excerpt included below shows just a few exemplary actions in the areas of transportation.
Other climate change best practices
Baltimore is a rare example of how a community can comprehensively integrate climate change into its hazard mitigation plan but many other jurisdictions do contain best practices worth highlighting. These plans are mentioned throughout the website but for easier access, the examples are listed below. For a more detailed descriptions of an examples, click on the jurisdiction’s name to be taken to the section of Beyond the Basics that discusses it.
- Barnstable County, MA: Barnstable County’s plan includes extensive data on possible hazardous effects of climate change in the US in graphical and descriptive forms.
- Brunswick County, NC: Brunswick County went above and beyond the standard and required that identified critical facilities be protected at least two feet about the 500 year elevation level.
- Lewes, DE: Lewes is one of few municipalities that completely integrated its Hazard Mitigation Plan and Climate Change Adaptation Policy.
- San Francisco, CA: San Francisco’s plan included a map that identified populations especially vulnerable to extreme heat events.