Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg has pledged to help reduce the size and impact of major wildfires, including through the use of microgrids, and leverage federal data and funds to help cities, states and the private sector adapt to the impacts of climate change.
"Even as we work to avoid the worst impacts by rapidly reducing carbon pollution and investing in a clean energy economy, we have to equip communities to cope with climate impacts and recover when disaster strikes," Bloomberg said in his climate change resilience plan.
The former mayor of New York City joins the ranks of about a handful of candidates who have included adaptation and resilience in their broader plans for tackling climate change if they win the White House. Other candidates for the Democratic nomination, including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders along with Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang, are among those that have talked about the need to address wildfire management.
Most of the climate adaptation plans note that for every dollar invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall, which is from a 2018 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences.
Bloomberg's plan includes doubling federal funding to $10 billion annually for fire resilience and management and to potentially use forest resilience bonds to help fund fire prevention work. Bloomberg also envisions promoting the development of microgrids "in high-risk areas to minimize power outages." And he would increase the amount of federal funding available for predisaster mitigation activities. Bloomberg would also seek to provide federal loans and grants, including to utilities, to reduce the risk of downed power lines and to maintain transmission corridors.
Bloomberg would also use loans and grants to help cities, states and the private sector invest in resilience. He would also have agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide better data to those governments and entities to help develop their plans.
"For example, FEMA flood maps have not been updated to reflect projections from the latest climate forecasts, leaving communities to rely on outdated information in their planning," Bloomberg's plan said.
Other candidates that talk about improving FEMA's maps, using grants and loans to help fund climate resilience, and improving overall federal disaster response include former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Warren, Sanders and Yang.
"Every dollar spent toward rebuilding our roads, bridges, buildings, the electric grid, and our water infrastructure will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand a changing climate," Biden said in his climate plan.
Yang put a particular emphasis on the thorny issue of having communities that are at the greatest risk of flooding from sea level rise move inland or to higher ground. California is among the states that have started to question how to tackle what it is calling managed retreat.
"Natural disasters and other effects of climate change are already causing damage and death. We need to adapt our country to this new reality," Yang's plan said.
Bloomberg and the other candidates with climate resilience in their plans also emphasized the need to help lower-income communities.
Environmental "justice cannot be a secondary concern — it must be at the center of our response to climate change," Warren's plan said.