DHS R&D arm to drive climate change response under new bill

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) speaks at a climate action rally in 2021.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) speaks at a climate action rally in 2021. Shannon Finney/Getty Images

The Science and Technology Directorate would take a leading role in climate change resilience research under a new bill.

A new bill from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) would give the Science and Technology Directorate a leading role in helping to understand and respond to threats posed by climate change.

The Department of Homeland Security Climate Change Research Act puts S&T at the center of research and development activity designed to mitigate the effects of climate change, including emergency preparedness and planning and disaster recovery. 

The Biden administration is seeking just over $372 million for S&T in fiscal year 2024, a slight decrease from current funding levels. S&T already supports some research into climate resilience as part of its infrastructure security and first responder lines of effort. Additionally, at DHS the Climate Change Action Group coordinates action to improve resilience to negative effects of climate change while also focusing on shrinking the agency's own carbon footprint.

"Climate change is a national security threat and an issue that impacts our homeland security. Year after year, extreme weather patterns, intensified by the climate crisis, have left millions vulnerable and displaced," Clarke said in a statement to FCW. "The cost of inaction is too dire, particularly for underserved communities who face disproportionate harm from climate change."

Under Clarke's bill, S&T would assess federal research on climate change and mitigation with an eye to understanding impacts on homeland security and consult across agencies to identify policies that help respond to climate change. Additionally, S&T would report to Congress for three years on climate-related R&D.

Clarke, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, added that her new bill would "help empower the federal government to not only mitigate the negative effects of climate change, but also bolster our resiliency, preparedness, and response for man-made and natural disasters."