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Officials celebrate Boston's leadership on climate resilience

October 18, 2017

Environment

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Environment

A new report highlights the significant progress being made in Boston under Mayor Walsh's leadership.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined the Center for American Progress and The Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy today to celebrate Boston's leadership on climate resiliency and equity. The Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy (CEED) recently released a new report, A Framework for Local Action on Climate Change: 9 Ways Mayors Can Build Resilient and Just Cities, which recognizes efforts by Mayor Walsh and other mayors and city leaders across the country to curb carbon pollution and fight climate change, while taking concrete steps to improve climate change resilience, along with addressing associated economic, racial, and social equity issues.

The report specifically highlights the significant progress being made in Boston under Mayor Walsh's leadership of the inclusion of equity goals and principles in the City's climate action and preparedness plans. 

"The effects of climate disproportionately impact some communities over others and cities across the country have a responsibility to not only acknowledge these inequities, but develop and implement strategies to address them," said Mayor Walsh. "I'm proud that the City of Boston recognizes how climate, resilience, and social equity intersect and what we've accomplished in that realm. CAP and CEED are leaders on many issues and it's great to work alongside them and other mayors across the country to reach these common goals."

Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director of the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, said the new report by CEED and the Center for American Progress, assessed dozens of city climate action and resilience plans and found that Mayor Walsh's Resilient Boston plan puts forth the most comprehensive, action-oriented strategy that serves as a model for other cities.

"Mayor Walsh has embraced the need to achieve racial and economic equity as the central strategy for building citywide resilience to more extreme weather and climate change," said Martinez. "Boston is committed to combating climate change, while also tackling the historic racial and economic inequities that make the city's communities of color and low-income areas the most vulnerable to climate change. This commitment is both ambitious and essential to ensuring a resilient and prosperous future for Boston."

Cathleen Kelly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, called Walsh a leader for recognizing that creating equitable economic opportunities is key to helping Bostonians prepare for the effects of climate change and other shocks.

"By tearing down historic barriers to economic opportunity for communities of color and families living paycheck to paycheck, mayors can ensure that all residents have access to living wages, affordable housing and the means to withstand the new normal of more floods, storms and other climate change risks," Kelly said. "The Mayor's Resilient Boston plan is groundbreaking in that it aims to create pathways to good-paying jobs for Boston's communities of color, including by connecting all residents to the city's economic hubs through reliable public transportation networks and by expanding education opportunities for people of color."

Along with stressing the importance of the inclusion of equity and justice goals and principles in cities' climate action and preparedness plans, A Framework for Local Action on Climate Change: 9 Ways Mayors Can Build Resilient and Just Cities recommends nine key policy areas for mayors across the country to focus on in forming their resilience and climate strategies including supporting social cohesion and deeply connected communities, collaborating with community groups and building neighborhood capacity to shape and implement climate change solutions, increasing access to affordable and clean energy, and investing in resilient infrastructure and nature-based solutions.

The City of Boston has implemented several plans and initiatives recognized by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy for leading the way on equitable climate resiliency including:

Imagine Boston 2030, the City of Boston's first citywide plan in over 50 years, identifies initiatives that will expand opportunity to all Bostonians, support a vibrant economy, enhance quality of life, and prepare for climate change. It encourages work to enhance the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, expand neighborhoods to find space for housing and jobs, build a resilient waterfront for future generations, and improve access to opportunity to historically underserved neighborhoods.

Resilient Boston, Boston's resilience strategy, is focused on ensuring every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and removing the barriers of systemic racism that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities. In 2015, Boston partnered with community organizations and businesses to convene a series of workshops, meetings, and events to understand Bostonians' priorities for the resilience strategy. In 2016, Boston collaboratively hosted a series of workshops to understand the connection between resilience and racial equity, which meant tackling difficult conversation about racism. This process led to a resilience and racial equity lens which includes key questions the City can use to evaluate policies and programs. Resilient Boston identifies five questions to evaluate policies through the . lens of resilience and racial equity: 1) What was the impetus for this policy or program? 2) What are the possible unintended consequences of the policy? 3) What steps can be taken to avoid or repair these unintended consequences? 4) How are the area and the communities that would face unintended consequences part of developing the plan? 5) Choose a measure which, if it were crossed, should trigger a re-evaluation and plan of action within 6 months. These questions are used to shape the City of Boston's policy initiatives and plans, including those focused on the environment and climate.

Climate Ready Boston has set Boston's climate preparedness agenda by developing a climate adaptation strategy to enable Boston to thrive in the face of climate change. It presents a thorough analysis of Boston's climate risks and describes the initiatives the City and its partners should undertake to manage these risks. Climate Ready Boston presents five layers of initiatives to create a more climate-ready city: 1) a climate-projection consensus to underpin decision making, 2) empowered communities that are prepared for risks, 3) protected shores, 4) resilient infrastructure, and 5) adapted buildings. Climate Ready Boston's initiatives are guided by principles that produce multiple benefits, leverage building and investment cycles, create layers of protection, incorporate local involvement, and design for flexibility and adaptability.

Climate Ready Boston Leaders is a pilot outreach program to train members of the Boston community on how to talk about the impacts of climate change in their backyards and supports their efforts to facilitate conversations on climate change with neighbors. More than 70 leaders have been trained and then hosted more than 30 discussions across the city, reaching over 500 people.

Greenovate Boston is the City's initiative to get all Bostonians involved in eliminating the pollution that causes global climate change, while continuing to make Boston a healthy, thriving, and innovative city. Through the Greenovate Neighborhoods program, the City is strengthening our network of invested stakeholders of the Climate Action Plan. Greenovate Boston also connect residents with energy efficiency tips and resources, and reached more than 40,000 Bostonians to date.

The Boston Community Energy Study explores the potential for local energy generation, district energy and microgrids.

Zero Waste Boston is the City's planning process to reduce waste, spur job growth, and achieve cost-savings. The plan will recommend goals and timelines for waste reduction and disposal cost savings for the commercial, industrial and institutional, and residential sectors.

Find more on climate resiliency here.

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