While projections for future climate change are most often defined globally, it is becoming increasingly important to assess how the changing climate will impact cities. Cities and their citizens already have begun to experience the effects of climate change. Warming is generally higher over land than over the ocean. Understanding and anticipating these changes will help cities prepare for a more sustainable future. This means making cities more resilient to climate-related disasters and managing long-term climate risks in ways that protect people and encourage prosperity. It also means improving cities’ abilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Identify the most urgent threats and opportunities.
What are the governmental/regulatory barriers to progress in your city? How can city and county government be more transparent, inclusive, comprehensive and responsible?
- Emergency Response: Do you have the resources to respond to emerging threats? What threats/risks can be isolated, evacuated, reinforced or removed?
- Healthcare Systems: In the worst-case scenario, what gaps exist in the local healthcare system? Do facilities need to be relocated? Will roads in and out be accessible during extreme weather events or fires? Do they have back-up power?
- Technology Gaps: Where is the technology infrastructure vulnerable? Where is it outdated? Is it backed up? Can it be accessed remotely in case of an emergency?
- Power: Is it a reliable resource? Is it a sustainable resource? Where are there opportunities to diversify your sources and what opportunities exist to generate and store power locally?
- Water: Is it a reliable resource? Is it a sustainable resource? Is it safe from pollutants? Is it adequate to meet future demand?
- Food: Is it a reliable resource? Is it a sustainable resource? Is it safe from pollutants? How can you boost local production?
- Transportation: Where can roads and bridges be upgraded to improve traffic flow? What roads and bridges are vulnerable to floods, fires, landslides and other threats? What potential is there to improve alternative transportation? Promote walking, biking, carpooling and remote work environments. Electric vehicles can help, but only when powered by solar energy.
- Housing: Affordable housing, energy efficiency, recycling, smart communities, resilient communities, community gardens, composting, xeriscaping and more are all part of the solution.
- Wastewater Management: In most cities, the entire wastewater treatment process represents a public health disaster. Extreme weather is exacerbating the problem. Sewage sludge isn’t fertilizer and reclaimed wastewater isn’t liquid gold. This area requires immediate consultation. Please contact us.
- Green Spaces: Urban forests and flood plains matter. Defense from local forest fires, rising tides, tornadoes, hurricanes and more also matter.
- Air Quality: A key metric in some areas is air quality. It’s a matter of public health, but it also is a symptom of a problem that must be addressed. Ozone, particulates, smoke, automobile exhaust, airport and airline traffic, industrial emissions and more all must be minimized for maximum impact.
- Financing: Incentives, tax credits, green bonds and other avenues can help your city finance critical steps forward. In many cases, these projects will pay for themselves with cost reductions.
- Important Trends: What other local trends must be considered?
- Critical Success Factors: What keeps you up at night? What obstacles must be overcome? Who are key allies?
- Strengths and Weaknesses: What are your key assets and liabilities? Leverage your strengths and improve upon your vulnerabilities.
- Develop Action Plan and Budget: When it comes to global warming and climate change, cities represent our greatest risk for loss and our greatest opportunity for change. One of the biggest mistakes that community leaders can make is over-analysis, which often leads to crisis management. As the list above indicates, there are immediate opportunities for improvement in every city and community. Momentum is contagious.