More than 20 federal agencies on Thursday released plans to ensure federal facilities and programs are resilient against the climate crisis, including bumping pay to federal firefighters, electrifying vehicle fleets and pinpointing which military bases are most at risk to climate hazards.
The reports were requested by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. A statement from the White House calls this a “critical” first step to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely in response to climate change.
Building climate resiliency in the federal government would ultimately save taxpayer money as the impacts of the climate crisis are becoming more costly. A recent UN report found an extreme weather event or climate disaster has occurred every day, on average, somewhere in the world over the last 50 years – each with an average economic loss of $383 million.
After this summer’s devastating flooding from Hurricane Ida, Biden administration had called on Congress to appropriate more than $14 billion to aid with recovery and “unmet needs” from recent natural disasters, including wildfires and storms. It also asked for another $10 billion to deal with the aftermath from Ida alone.
Many of the agencies’ plans include increasing building standards to withstand stronger storms and more frequent flooding. Some agencies will take the climate crisis into consideration as they look to approve grants and other partnership programs, and others are emphasizing the need to increase climate literacy within their own departments.
In its federal resiliency plan, the Department of Defense highlighted a recently released Climate Assessment Tool to inform and educate military planners on which military bases and installations are at risk from climate change hazards.
The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior detailed how federal wildland firefighters will be paid $15 per hour. And the Centers for Disease Control revealed a tool that allows state and local public health officials to plan for and respond to extreme heat across the country.
Some departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, committed to electrifying their vehicle fleets by the end of the decade.
In addition to the multi-agency plan released Thursday, the White House plans to release a National Climate Strategy later this year.