Last week, on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Menino made a major, three-part announcement on climate action in Boston:

  1. Boston’s progress on climate preparedness efforts, including the release of a new report called Climate Ready Boston: Municipal Vulnerability to Climate Change;
  2. Significant progress of the City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations; and
  3. The kickoff of the City's update of strategies behind the Climate Action Plan, due in in 2014, including the launch of a new "virtual town hall" sustainability engagement tool, engage.greenovateboston.org

This post is the first of three that will provide an in-depth look at these three big announcements and explain what they mean for you and the rest of Boston. Today, we’ll start with climate preparedness.

Hurricane Sandy was a near-miss for Boston—not by miles, but by hours. Had the superstorm hit just five hours earlier, during Boston's high-tide, we could have experienced flooding that looked like this:

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Mayor Menino and his Administration didn't waste any time devising a course of action. On February 5, 2013, he announced Climate Ready Boston, a series of new initiatives to better prepare Boston for climate change, including storms like Sandy.

Last week, the Mayor announced tremendous progress on these initiatives, including:

  • The release of Climate Ready Boston: Municipal Vulnerability to Climate Change, which identifies municipal vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change and next steps to address them;
  • The BRA has begun surveying new development projects undergoing Article 80 review as well as existing buildings to learn of current and emerging strategies and practices that prepare buildings for future climate conditions and enhance building and City resiliency;
  • The BRA, at its next Board meeting, will take up new Zoning Article 80 Project Review guidelines to ensure basic building preparedness and resiliency practices are included in planning, design, and construction of new projects in Boston;
  • The Environment Department is currently drafting a new local wetlands ordinance based on guiding principles from the Boston Conservation Commission and input from stakeholders; and
  • Enhanced outreach regarding flood preparedness and other impacts of climate change from Inspectional Services Department, Boston Public Health Commission, Office of Emergency management and others.

This marks significant progress on municipal preparedness, as well as policy and planning to ensure that all of Boston is prepared for climate change. However, the City cannot act alone. That is why, as part of the response to the Mayor’s request, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission--made up of Boston's top institutional and business leaders--convened a working group and commissioned the report, Building Resilience in Boston, released by the Boston Society of Architects in August.

But there is still much more work to do. As Chief of Environment & Energy Brian Swett likes to say, “We’ll never check the box on climate preparedness.” This is ongoing work that needs contribution from all. As we shape Boston’s next community climate action plan, we want to hear from you about climate preparedness.

What do you think are Boston’s greatest vulnerabilities? What are you doing to prepare? What else do you think the City should do? These are all things we’ll be discussing on engage.greenovateboston.org over the next year as we update our Climate Action Plan.

Get started today by joining the discussion on Boston’s vulnerabilities to climate change, which is happening online until November 27.


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