Boston’s Progress in Responding to Climate Change

The City of Boston has taken significant steps in the last few years to respond to projected climate impacts – both on the mitigation side and the adaptation side.

The city released the Climate Ready Boston report, October 2017, identifying the climate projections that will be most impactful to the city: extreme temperatures, extreme precipitation; relative sea level rise; and coastal storm.  By quantifying these impacts, the report also identified the most vulnerable Boston neighborhoods and developed a set of resilience initiatives to increase Boston’s ability to thrive in the face of them. Since that time, the City has been working with these vulnerable neighborhoods to develop climate resilience plans. These have been completed for East Boston and Charlestown, work is underway for Moakley Park, and the final plan for South Boston is very near completion.

On the mitigation side, Mayor Walsh launched Carbon Free Boston in November 2017 as the City’s next step to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. This initiative aims to analyze the policy and technology options for achieving this goal in four key sectors: electric power, buildings, transportation, and waste.  The analysis will inform the City’s next Climate Action Plan update, expected to begin by the end of 2018.

At A Better City’s energy and environment focused September Board meeting we will take a deeper dive into the City’s climate initiatives focusing specifically on the building sector work underway for the Carbon Free Boston initiative and the Climate Ready South Boston resilience plan.

Christopher Cook, recently appointed Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space at the City of Boston will introduce these two initiatives now under his purview.

Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE), a partner on the Carbon Free Boston project, is currently modeling policies and technologies to meet the City’s emissions reductions targets. Cutler Cleveland, who is heading up this project at ISE will brief us on their work. We will then hear from Rebecca Hatchadorian, one of the team at Arup leading the building sector analysis for Carbon Free Boston.

Mia Goldwasser, Boston’s Climate Ready Boston Program Manager will then brief members on Climate Ready Boston’s progress to date. She will be followed by Carly Foster, Arcadis, lead on the Climate Ready South Boston project. South Boston was identified in the Climate Ready Boston report as the most exposed to future sea level rise and a key flood entryway. She will lead us through the short- and long-term solutions that have been identified to protect South Boston and the rest of the City from climate impacts.


By: Yve Torrie

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