September 24, 2023

United States President Joe Biden visits the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a briefing on the Atlantic hurricane season in Washington, USA on May 24, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will double the funds available to prepare cities and states for extreme weather disasters from $ 500 million in 2020 to $ 1 billion this year will.

Biden also announced the start of a new NASA initiative to track climate change and the impact of those changes on local communities in both the short term and the future.

The President announced the additional funding during a visit to FEMA headquarters, where he received a briefing on the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season and shared comments with agency staff.

“Now is the time to prepare for the busiest time of year for disaster in America,” Biden said after the briefing. “Hurricane season in the south and east and fire season in the west.”

“We all know the storms are coming and we will be prepared,” he added. “We have to be ready.”

The United States has seen 22 different weather and climate-related disasters in the past year, each causing more than $ 1 billion in damage, according to a White House fact sheet. In total, the damage from these 22 disasters – mostly forest fires, hurricanes and blizzards – amounted to nearly $ 100 billion.

The newly announced funds will be distributed through FEMA’s BRIC (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities) program. Founded in 2018, BRIC provides grants to states, local communities, and tribes to conduct pre-disaster risk mitigation projects.

Monday’s actions are the latest in a series of initiatives by the Biden government to measure and prepare for extreme weather events, the frequency and severity of which have increased with the warming of the climate in recent decades.

Last week, Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the financial risks of climate change for the government and the private sector

The contract gives Biden’s leading economic and climate advisors four months to estimate how much it would cost to achieve a US economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Since the beginning of his presidency, Biden has made tackling climate change an integral part of his government strategy.

At the core of its climate strategy, a clean power standard, is part of the $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure package currently being negotiated by the White House and Senate Republicans.

The standard would require fossil fuel burning power plants to gradually adopt carbon-free methods of generating electricity such as wind and solar. According to the current standard, the deadline for CO2-free electricity generation would be 2035.