Now is the time to invest in climate resilience

Commonwealth Magazine (OPINION): GOV. BAKER’S RECENT signing of a sweeping climate bill into law codifies emissions reduction targets, expands clean energy, improves the efficiency of new building stock, and uplifts environmental justice communities. This new law is a major step toward reducing emissions—but it only addresses half of our climate change problem. As the Biden administration prepares to launch a $3-4 trillion economic stimulus and infrastructure plan that is uniquely rooted in combatting climate change, now is the time to ready the climate resilience projects needed for our communities to survive and thrive in the face of sea-level rise and extreme weather.

According to a recent Pew survey, more than 60 percent of Americans say climate change is currently affecting their local community. Despite this national reckoning, here in the Commonwealth, mobilizing to build large-scale climate infrastructure—transitioning from planning to implementation—still seems like an afterthought, an aside, something to tackle next legislative session. An ad hoc, piecemeal approach to climate resilience will leave us (quite literally) underwater.

Prior to joining A Better City, I helped spearhead recovery efforts in New York State following Superstorm Sandy—the 2012 storm caused upwards of $60 billion in damage and claimed more than 64 lives in the state. Days after Sandy hit, I was surveying damage on the Rockaway peninsula with my then-boss, US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Weeks later, I was helping the senator make the case for billions of dollars in federal recovery aid. Months later, I was helping establish New York State’s Office of Storm Recovery to disburse more than $4.5 billion in federal funds. Now, years later, I’m back in my home state of Massachusetts to ensure we are better prepared than New York City was for a climate shock like Sandy. Read more >>