This week Greenovate hosted a webinar about Boston’s climate preparedness project, Climate Ready Boston. Here are the key takeaways from the webinar - and some tips for how you and your community can prepare for a changing climate.

Climate Ready Boston brings the region’s top climate scientists together in order to project what climate change will look like in Boston. It provides local residents and policymakers with the best possible information to prepare for the changes ahead - including rising seas and extreme weather events.

This week, more than 80 of you tuned in to learn more about Climate Ready Boston in Greenovate’s first-ever webinar. Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space Austin Blackmon and climate Preparedness Program Manager Mia Goldwasser explained how climate change is projected to affect our city and answered many of your questions about how the city is working to prepare for them.

 

Watch a recording of the webinar here:

 

Here are some key takeaways from the webinar:

  1. The Climate Ready Boston project comes at the same time as other citywide planning efforts like Go Boston 2030, which is concerned with creating a sustainable and accessible transportation future for Boston, 100 Resilient Cities Boston, which works to ensure that our city is resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century, and Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030. Climate Ready Boston takes all of these focus areas into consideration as it develops recommendations to help our city plan for the effects of climate change.

  2. Several coastal storms have come close to Boston in recent years, but have not caused widespread damage. You can see a map of these near-misses at 2:22. Climate Ready Boston is helping the city prepare for time when we might not be so lucky in the future.

  3. Climate Ready Boston enlisted the region’s top climate scientists to produce a climate projections consensus report, which is released in June. See it here.

  4. Climate Ready Boston is currently developing its vulnerability assessment, which will identify the neighborhoods and population who are at greatest risks for the projected effects of climate change.

  5. Climate Ready Boston has identified several general populations that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Boston: older adults; children; people with disabilities; medical illness; low- to no- income; or lack of english proficiency; and people of color. Starting at 12:56 you can see maps that show the intersection of vulnerable populations and places where the effects of climate change like flooding and extreme heat are projected to be most pronounced.

  6. The main ways Boston will experience the effects of climate change are increased rainfall (4:39), increased overall temperature and increased extreme temperature events (5:45), and sea level rise (6:31).

  7. Through the middle of this century, these projections are generally independent of emissions reductions - meaning that regardless of how successful we are in reducing emissions, we can start preparing for these changes now. Beyond the middle of this century, the intensity of effects like sea level rise and extreme weather events will depend largely on how successful we are in reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

  8. The landscape of Boston has changed a lot over the last several millennia -- due to geologic processes and man-made changes. Starting at 9:01, you can see an illustration of these changes that helps put future sea level rise projections into context.

  9. Climate Ready Boston focuses on these guiding principles to ensure that the resiliency initiatives it recommends are sustainable, equitable, and feasible: support multiple benefits with each activity; make improvements as part of natural building cycles (in other words, not attempting to make all these changes all at once); incorporate local involvement; develop adaptive and flexible strategies; and work at the building, neighborhood, citywide levels so that many different solutions can reinforce one another.

  10. As Climate Ready Boston develops its resiliency recommendations, it focuses on four major categories: protected shores; resilient infrastructure; adapted buildings; and prepared and connected communities.

CRB_banner_event.jpg

 

So, how can Bostonians make sure that their families and communities are better prepared for the effects of climate change?

  1. Stay up to date on findings, recommendations, and events at Climateready.boston.gov

  2. Understand climate risks in Boston by checking out Climate Ready Boston’s climate projections consensus or resources like the flood maps shown at 11:31.

  3. There are lots of opportunities to tell the city that preparing for the effects of climate change is important to you. Right now it’s developing its first citywide plan in 50 years - Imagine Boston 2030. Among their top goals are preparing for climate change and including communities in decision making -- tell them your thoughts about climate change preparedness here.

  4. The City is working to help individual Bostonians conserve energy, reduce emissions, and make their homes more resilient through programs like Renew Boston. Renew Boston helps Bostonians save energy and money at home by providing no-cost home energy assessments and connecting them with incentives and rebates through Mass Save. Sign up for a no-cost home energy assessment through Renew Boston here.

  5. The intensity of the effects of climate change will depend on how successful we are in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Get involved in our city’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, as laid out in our Climate Action Plan, by connecting with Greenovate!

 

Lots of you submitted great questions to our presenters! Here are responses to those they weren’t able to get to in a single lunch hour webinar:

Ann asked about regulations for schools being built in the Seaport area.

Ensuring that schools are safe is a top priority for the City of Boston. The Climate Ready Boston team is coordinating with Boston Public Schools, including the BuildBPS team, Facilities Management, and Sustainability Manager Phoebe Beierle, to help schools prepare for the effects of climate change. You can check out these resources to learn more about BPS Green Schools initiatives:

http://bostongreenschools.org/

http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Domain/895

http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/buildbps

George brought up the importance of taking C02 out of the atmosphere as wellas emitting less of it, and asked if Boston is considering methods like soil carbon sequestration.

While soil carbon sequestration is not a method the City of Boston is currently exploring, the Climate Action Plan considers carbon sequestration in its carbon neutrality goals: "Achievement of net-zero carbon emissions by balancing the amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount through sequestration or offset". Read the full report here:

http://192.241.241.150/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Boston_CAP_Full_Report.pdf

David asked if the City of Boston is looking into new methods for storing clean energy, and inquired about how Boston’s many colleges and universities are taking part in this effort.

The City of Boston is eager to explore all opportunities to move toward clean, efficient energy. As you mentioned, Boston is home to a large number of colleges and universities. These large institutions have large footprints, and they're also hotspots for innovation. The Green Ribbon Commission, which convenes leaders from the city's key sectors to support the outcomes of the Climate Action Plan, sees the opportunity in this resource. The GRC has a Higher Education Working Group, which calls upon many of Boston's colleges and universities to improve their environmental footprints and draws upon the intellectual capital of these institutions to help the City achieve its climate goals. You can learn more about the GRC's higher Education Working Group here:

http://www.greenribboncommission.org/work/higher-education-working-group/

Nicholas asked about the rollout of microgrids, and how people can learn about funding opportunities and become a part of the planning process.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is the City of Boston's urban planning and economic development agency, and they oversee microgrids. You can learn more about the BRA here: http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/ Here is some recent information about microgrids from the BRA:

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/news-calendar/news-updates/2016/02/10/boston-community-energy-study-taps-innovation-expe

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/planning/planning-initiatives/boston-community-energy-study

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/planning/planning-initiatives/community-energy-planning

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/news-calendar/news-updates/2015/08/28/boston%E2%80%99s-energy-ecosystem-microgrids-and-the-value

Julie asked if the City of Boston is planning to foster public conversation about how our landscape and shoreline will look in the future.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is currently working with the Barr Foundation to study Boston Harbor and how climate change is projected to affect it. You can learn more about their study here:

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/planning/planning-initiatives/downtown-waterfront-planning-initiative

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/planning/waterfront-planning/waterfront-planning

Margaret asked if the City of Boston is working to install solar arrays in order to reduce demand on fossil fuels.

The City of Boston is currently in the process of exploring the potential for installing solar panels on municipal buildings - especially schools. Stay tuned for information about this initiative from the Office of Environment, Energy, and Open Space:

https://www.boston.gov/departments/environment

Kannan asked if the shorter term risk projections were available, and how the City of Boston is working to ensure that all new buildings are climate risk averse.

Climate Ready Boston's primary goal is to help Boston prepare for the long term effects of climate change. You can take a look at projections about sea level rise, precipitation, temperature, and coastal storms for 2030, 2050, 2070, and 2100 in the climate projections consensus that it released this past June:

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/greenovateboston/pages/1182/attachments/original/1464977705/ClimateProjectionConsensusSummary_June2016.pdf?1464977705

This fall it will release its set of resiliency initiatives, which will contain more specific, near-term information.

 

Stay tuned!

Greenovate Boston will continue to keep you up-to-date on Climate Ready Boston’s findings and recommendations in order to help all communities become even stronger and more resilient to the changes ahead.


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