On Friday the Federal Emergency Management Administration, or FEMA, will roll out sweeping changes to a government program that provides flood insurance to some three million American households. These changes will sharply raise the cost of flood insurance for many high-value homes in coastal states like Florida, sending dramatic new signals to current and potential waterfront homeowners about the risks they face from extreme weather fueled by climate change.
The rollout of this new system, known as Risk Rating 2.0, has triggered one of the most contentious climate adaptation debates in recent memory. There is no doubt on either side that the changes reflect a more accurate assessment of flood risk, but a number of politicians from both parties have petitioned FEMA to delay the rollout, hoping to protect their constituents from a decrease in property values that may accompany higher insurance premiums. The result has been yet another skirmish in a debate that will become central to climate policy in the United States: How many of the private risks generated by climate change will be shouldered at public expense?
Risk Rating 2.0 represents the first major upd... Read more