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RELEASE: Bipartisan City Officials Call on Federal Government to Support Local Resilience to Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 15, 2016) - A major new paper released by the World Resources Institute today presents a policy roadmap for the Trump administration and Congress to support local and state efforts to enhance resilience to climate change. It offers timely recommendations to protect U.S. communities and the economy from costly sea level rise, disruptive coastal flooding and devastating extreme weather events.

The paper, Roadmap to Support Local Climate Resilience: Lessons from the Rising Tides Summit, presents eight priority federal policy actions that build on recommendations from a first-of-its-kind bipartisan gathering of nearly 40 U.S. mayors and local elected officials at the Rising Tides Summit last year. The paper identifies major opportunities for the federal government to assist local communities with climate resilience efforts that can protect homes and jobs, build infrastructure that will last, preserve tourist towns and beaches, safeguard military bases and ensure the longevity of ports.

“As a former mayor, I’ve dealt with the challenges climate change can pose to a local economy and critical infrastructure firsthand,” said Sam Adams, Director, WRI U.S., and former Mayor of Portland, Oregon. “During a time of exceptional divisiveness at the national level, this analysis is confirmation that bipartisan support exists at the local level to address the impacts of rising seas and more extreme weather. This roadmap offers a common-sense and fiscally responsible approach to how the federal government can invest in infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of climate change.”

Coastal flooding has increased 300 to 925 percent in communities along all three coasts of the contiguous U.S, and devastating 1-in-1,000 storms are now occurring multiple times a year across the country. 123 million people live in coastal U.S. communities and generate nearly half of America’s total GDP, so the threat of rising seas cannot be ignored. Both Republican and Democratic mayors across the country are now calling for policy action on climate change.

“This isn’t just a coastal issue, Americans all across the country are grappling with the realities of climate change. The threat of sea level rise on our ports also has ramifications for the farmers and manufacturers in the heartland of the country that need to export and import their products,” said Mayor James C. Cason of Coral Gables, Florida.

“This is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike are already seeing and living with the reality of climate change. The federal government has a responsibility to execute on common-sense measures to help protect our communities,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, New Jersey.

The WRI analysis outlines opportunities for the federal government to bolster efforts of cities and states that involve incentivizing proactive preparedness to disasters, integrating resilience into infrastructure investments and catalyzing public-private partnership to ensure climate resilience is to reach maturation in the country. The eight key recommendations are:

  • Incentives: Increase incentives for pre-disaster resilience.
  • Integration: Advance integration of resilience into planning, design, management, and investment.
  • Coordination: Improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination and support.
  • Communities: Prioritize pre-disaster support for vulnerable populations and most at-risk communities.
  • Partnerships: Expand public-private partnerships to supplement government resilience efforts.
  • Nature-based: Promote nature-based and multi-benefit resilience initiatives.
  • Metrics: Enhance disaster resilience-focused metrics and economic impact assessments.
  • Awareness: Enrich usefulness of resilience-related data to increase public awareness.

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