Mayors Merge on Climate: Covering Adaptation in Cities

IN THE NEWS: The world’s mayors are forming a broad new alliance to fight climate change, and the effort is expected to be led day-to-day by billionaire climate activist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s Compact of Mayors and the European Union’s Covenant of Mayors will merge into a new Global Covenant of Mayors, representing 7,500 cities, with a signing ceremony June 22. It is expected to be up and running by early 2017.

BACKSTORY: Cities are considered key to successful climate adaptation. That’s not just because they produce the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions and house the majority of the world’s population, but also because they often find themselves at the front line of climate risks and are relatively nimble in their policy responses.

ADAPTATION ANGLE: Thousands of cities have embraced climate plans, pledging to cut carbon dioxide emissions and adopt resilience strategies. Yet many initiatives have failed, hampered by poor coordination within city government and between city, regional and national governments, communication challenges with stakeholders, lack of private sector partnerships and poor funding.

QUESTIONS TO ASK: Here are a few of the many questions to ask about your city’s climate planning:

  • What are the specific risks your city faces with regard to climate, such as extreme weather, sea-level rise, or threats to infrastructure and public health? Where are the most vulnerable areas of the city? Who are the most at-risk populations?
  • What programs has your city enacted, either for climate adaptation or carbon emission reductions? For instance, has it enacted plans for green infrastructure, like green roofs to reduce urban heat island effects, or has it cleared drains to reduce flooding, or built sea walls or restored wetlands to combat sea-level rise?
  • Has your city put in place any disaster preparedness programs?
  • How will your city fund any of its planned climate action (see our separate news backgrounder on covering public funding)?
  • Can your city’s climate adaptation and mitigation planning jump-start local economic development?
  • Are there any simple city-level operational changes that might help, such as through purchasing or transportation programs?
  • To what extent is sprawl and development a factor in climate decision-making for your city?
  • Does your community have centers of innovation to tap on climate issues? What local expertise is available to move adaptation plans forward, such as local universities, think tanks or businesses?
  • What are other cities and towns in your state or region doing about climate adaptation? Could they be a model for your community?
  • How well has your city worked with state, regional or federal governments to develop and enact its plans?
  • Has your city signed on with the climate goals of either the Compact of Mayors or the Covenant of Mayors?

REPORTING RESOURCES: Dig deeper on the city adaptation story using the dozens of related resources in the database of the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation, where you can start your search either by your region, or specific risks and responses.

Know of other resources we should have in our database? Share your resources here. And share your own stories, story angles and questions to ask.

Posted by A. Adam Glenn on June 20, 2016