13.1.1 Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population


Climate change has increased flood risk for the DMV area. According to Sustainable DC, climate change will likely increase average rainfall, bring increased numbers of severe weather events including thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash flooding. Areas already identified as high flood risk, particularly the 100-year floodplain, which include neighborhoods like Mayfair and Watts Branch, are expected to be at an even greater risk as sea levels continue to rise and wind patterns change. The National Climate Assessment predicts that sea levels could rise as much as 11 feet by 2100 in the DMV area, should mitigation measures fail to curb the effects of climate change, which will increase water flows in both the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, which fluctuate based on tide levels in the Chesapeake Bay. As discussed in the analysis for SDG 11.5, the disproportionate distribution of traditionally disadvantaged communities along areas of the greatest flood risk in DC mean that as the climate continues to change, these groups will be more likely to bear the brunt of the most extreme impacts. Likewise, coastal communities in Maryland and Virginia will also face the brunt of rising sea levels and experience increased flood risk. 

In the DMV, specifically in DC, several mechanisms are already in place to address climate change. The city released its Sustainable City 2.0 Plan addressing climate as one of the 13 key issues that must be improved to ensure sustainable development in the city. For climate, the plan advocates for adaptation and mitigation plans to best prepare for the changing sea levels and weather events that are expected to hit the DMV areas. For adaptation, the plan outlines DC’s efforts to combat excessive heat, improve building and community infrastructure to be both more energy efficient and more resilient to natural disasters, and the DC Flood Task Force, which was established in 2021 to address increasing flood risk. For mitigation, the plan outlines steps to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the District by 2050, including DC’s Clean Energy Plan and Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency, which is tasked with providing independent evaluation of strategies to achieve DC climate goals. 

On a state basis, Maryland has initiated its Climate Change Program, which includes plans to increase climate resilience such as through green and blue infrastructure projects, its 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and its energy transition strategies. In Virginia, the Final Virginia Carbon Rule which allowed the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and provide a cap-and-trade-program to reduce fossil fuel pollution. Virginia DEQ also has a strategic plan that provides objectives for key climate change concerns. Virginia is still in the process of developing agency-wide strategies and frameworks for regulatory changes, but has maintained climate as a consistent priority in its legislative agenda. In terms of flood risk, Virginia has implemented a Coastal Resilience Master Plan and Virginia Beach Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy to prepare for increased severe weather events and changing tidal patterns. 

Overall, DC, Maryland, and Virginia governments are incorporating the perceived effects of climate change on natural disasters into existing emergency management and environmental regulation infrastructure. For a full analysis of these frameworks and their impact, please refer to SDG 11.5.