If the federal government won’t take the lead on climate change – local cities will. That’s the message from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which wrapped up last week in Miami Beach.
Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S., including more than a dozen from Florida, swapped ideas on many topics, including how to reduce their cities’ carbon footprint.
Mayor Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, which borders the Everglades, says Floridians see that the effects of climate change are very real, especially for low-lying areas of south Florida.
“If the federal government doesn’t want to do it, we’re certainly going to do it,” he says. “Our residents need protection. In Miami Beach, they’ve done this huge project about raising the streets because of water intrusion, and having new sewers and pumps. I kind of believe that, in the years to come, the Florida peninsula may be underwater.”
President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change last month.
A new Sierra Club study says if the 1,400 cities belonging to the U.S. Conference of Mayors were to reach 100-percent renewable energy targets by 2025, the U.S. would come close to meeting its goals under the Paris agreement.
Now, cities large and small are purchasing electric vehicles and buses, buying renewable energy when possible, installing solar panels on municipal buildings, redesigning more walkable neighborhoods, and promoting mass transit.
Ortis says Pembroke Pines is focused on holding rising waters at bay.
“We’ve got to make sure that we have adequate drainage; we’ve got to get infrastructure needs for our aging sewers; we need to have LEED-certified buildings to make sure that we don’t have emissions,” he adds. “All cities are doing that, and we need to do that.”
Mayors at the conference also discussed the importance of saving the Community Development Block Grants, a program that pumps about $3 billion a year into cities and towns. President Donald Trump has proposed zeroing out its funding.
By Suzanne Potter
Public News Service – FL
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