Columbia University Law School, Center for Climate Change Law / by Matthew Babcock
Climate change is affecting and will continue to affect the frequency and severity of natural hazard events, a trend that is of increasing concern for emergency managers and hazard mitigation agencies across the United States. Proper response to these hazards will require preparation and planning. Unfortunately, states are not required to include analysis of climate change in their State Hazard Mitigation Plans, which leads to uneven treatment of the issue and missed opportunities for mitigation planning. This survey identifies those state plans that address climate change and climate – related issues in an accurate and helpful manner and those that do not. Several states will be releasing updated State Hazard Mitigation Plans in 2013 and 2014, and this survey forms a basis for improving those plans through shared lessons learned and targeted communication. The results of the survey indicate that coastal states are more likely to include a discussion of climate change, possibly due in part to recent emphasis on and awareness of the relationship between climate change and sea level rise, coastal storms, and related hazards. The relative lack of discussion of climate change in land – locked states may point to a need for greater communication of how risks such as drought, floods, heat events, and non – coastal storms are affected by climate change. State plans that currently include climate change analyses and a daptation plans may be used as examples for improving other plans. This survey provides a basis for further analysis comparing future plans and determining whether they include an improved discussion of climate change.