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DHS Actions: Climate Change

The climate crisis poses a multi-level threat to the American people, the global community, and DHS operations at home and abroad. It is vital for the Department to provide leadership and act to minimize its own environmental impact, to promote resilience against the risks posed by climate change, and to facilitate adaptation, so as to reduce harms and threats to the American people and abroad.

Addressing the climate emergency is a priority for DHS as sea-level rise, extreme weather events, workforce health, and other direct and indirect impacts of climate change will affect the Nation’s preparedness and national security over the long term. To combat this ongoing threat, DHS will implement a new approach to climate change adaptation and resilience, and it will do so with the sense of urgency this problem demands.

In the following video, Secretary Mayorkas announces new Department commitments to address the climate emergency at the White House Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22, 2021.

Overview of DHS Actions

DHS recognizes the threats climate change poses to the Homeland and the American people. Sea-level rise, extreme weather events, drought, workforce health, and other direct and indirect impacts of climate change are already affecting the Homeland Security enterprise and the Nation’s preparedness and national security over the long term.

The Climate Change Action Group (CCAG) is developing a Strategic Framework to guide the Department’s approach to managing the climate crisis. The Framework will include strategic objectives, guiding principles, and lines of effort, and should be completed by 1st Quarter FY22.

Recent activities coordinated under the purview of the CCAG include:

  • In April, FEMA issued a Request for Information seeking feedback from the public on how agency programs deal with climate change with a focus on underserved communities and populations. The comment period for the RFI concluded on July 21st and FEMA is reviewing submissions to identify areas where programs, regulations, and/or policies could benefit from reform.
  • Similarly, in July, the Coast Guard issued a public RFI for feedback on how their programs, regulations, and policies could be enhanced to better respond to climate change, reduce environmental damage, and minimize climate-related impacts on disadvantaged communities. The public comment period for this RFI closes on October 6th.
  • In June, FEMA released its Nature-Based Solutions Guide to help communities identify and engage staff and resources used to implement nature-based solutions to build resilience to natural hazards, which may be exacerbated by climate change.
  • FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Assistance, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program is used to incentivize and spur action toward climate resilience at the state and local level. In May, the President announced funding of $1 billion for BRIC.
  • In July, FEMA announced the selection of FY20 BRIC projects; the top five project types selected include: Flood Control ($550 million); Utility/Infrastructure Protection ($91.3 million); Wildfire Management ($49.3 million); Relocation ($21.9 million); and Saferoom/shelters ($15.2 million). Additionally, 18 of the 22 selected competitive projects addressed nature-based solutions.
  • On August 9th, FEMA released the FY21 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for BRIC. It is due to the success of the BRIC program that the Administration increased FY21 funding to $1 billion, nearly doubling the size of the program from FY20. The application period for this program opens on September 30th and runs through January 28, 2022.
  • FEMA also announced on August 9th that funding for this year’s Flood Mitigation Assistance grant is $160 million. The program will use the Centers for Disease Controls’ Social Vulnerability Index as a selection factor in its scoring process to help prioritize projects submitted by underserved communities.
  • On August 5th, FEMA announced an unprecedented $3.46 billion in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program MGP funds for hazard mitigation measures across the 59 major disaster declarations issued due to COVID-19. This funding is designed to help address effects of climate change and other unmet mitigation needs, including funds to promote equitable outcomes in underserved communities.
  • On August 16th, FEMA fundamentally improved and updated its National Risk Index, which is an online mapping tool to assess community level risk from 18 natural hazards and utilizes sea level rise data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Originally released in November of 2020, this new update is being made fully available for state, local, tribal and territorial governments, and provides customized analysis and reports to help communities and individuals make informed decisions about how they can become more resilient to their local risks, including impacts from climate change.
  • FEMA is updating the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) risk rating methodology through the implementation of a new pricing methodology, known as Risk Rating 2.0- Equity in Action. This methodology leverages cutting-edge technology and gives FEMA the capability and tools to address rating disparities by incorporating more flood risk variables, including flood frequency, multiple flood types, and distance to water source. FEMA is fixing longstanding inequities in flood insurance pricing and establishing a system that is better equipped for the reality of frequent flooding caused by climate change.
  • FEMA is engaged in an assortment of actions with respect to Federal Flood Risk Management, designed to reduce the risk of flooding. Some of those actions are expected to be announced soon.
  • FEMA is going to issue a set of changes to its Individual Assistance Program Guide, designed to simplify applications and in that way to promote equity.
  • Beginning August 1st, 2021, NFIP DHS continues to lead by example with respect to the sustainability and resilience of our own operations.
  • DHS has a goal to electrify 50 percent of the mobile fleet by FY30. The Department is currently analyzing its fleet to identify potential electric vehicle replacements and determine sites for pilot programs to install charging equipment.
  • DHS is also working with the Office of Management and Budget and the Council for Environmental Quality and to complete the DHS Climate Action Plan (CAP), as required by EO 14008. DHS priorities outlined in the CAP include: 1) Energy and Water Resilience, 2) Environmental Justice and Racial Equity, 3) Sustainability and Facility Standards, 4) ICT and Cybersecurity, and 5) Fleet Electrification.
  • The CCAG continues to work externally to implement actions outlined in Executive Orders that impact DHS missions and operations. On August 5th, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it will propose robust fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light duty trucks in line with EO 13990. DHS is assessing the impact to our vehicle fleet and existing fuel contracts.
  • The CCAG is also working with the EPA to assess the impact of recent rule making under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020 to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other greenhouse gases. Overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from this rule would benefit populations vulnerable to damages associated with climate change.

DHS National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

Climate Action Plan

The DHS Climate Action Plan outlines the steps the Department is taking to tackle the climate crisis, including bolstering the Department’s ability to adapt to climate change, building national resilience, undertaking mitigation measures, and addressing key vulnerabilities.  This plan is part of President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to confronting the climate crisis.
 
The DHS Climate Action Plan includes five priority actions:  

  1. Incorporating climate adaptation into national preparedness and community grants and projects, including through the continuation of the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program – the funding for which President Biden doubled to $1 billion – to provide incentives for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to adopt modern, disaster-resistant building codes.  DHS initial BRIC selections include wildfire resilience programs, flood control programs, and small-town coastal hazard mitigation plans.  
  2. Incorporating climate adaptation planning and processes into homeland security mission areas, including by reviewing current budget planning policies to assess whether climate change considerations are appropriately incorporated.
  3. Creating climate-resilient facilities and infrastructure, including by aiming to electrify 50 percent of the DHS vehicle fleet by 2030.
  4. Ensuring climate-ready services and supplies, for both the Department and the Nation, including by using CISA’s national risk assessment program to assess climate impacts and adaptation strategies to secure supplies of food, medicine, energy, and other vital resources.
  5. Increasing climate literacy, including by developing and implementing a DHS-wide climate education plan to raise awareness among our employees about the climate crisis and how to combat it through adaptation and resilience strategies.

  Read DHS’s Climate Action Plan.

Mitigation, Resilience and Adaptation

DHS leads the federal government in smart business solutions, approaches, and technology. The Department is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and generated waste as well as operating high-performance, sustainable buildings and fleets. DHS is committed to increasing resilience and adaptation through an assortment of measures designed to reduce the risks associated with climate change.

Stakeholder Engagement

Partnership constitute the foundation for securing the homeland. Preparedness for and resilience to catastrophic events requires the Department to collaborate with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and our brave local first responders. DHS work with the public must also:

  • Address the disproportionately high and adverse climate-related impacts disasters have on disadvantaged communities;
  • Reduce unnecessary barriers to participation and effectiveness;
  • Increase equity; and
  • Promote preparedness and resilience at the individual level.

Additional Information

Press Releases, Fact Sheets, and Notices

Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders

DHS Climate Change Action Group

The DHS Climate Change Action Group is a coordinating body comprised of the Department’s senior leadership that drives urgent action to address the climate crisis and reports directly to the Secretary.

Additional Information

Last Published Date: October 13, 2021

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