Boston Green Ribbon Commission
The Climate Preparedness Working Group focuses on various initiatives to help the City of Boston prepare for the impacts of climate change. It provides a forum for its members to have input into Climate Ready Boston and various follow-on projects dealing with district scale resilience planning, governance issues, and financing strategies, among various topics.
Phase I of Climate Ready Boston focused on updating scientific projections re the type, intensity and frequency of climate change impacts expected to affect Boston. It included a city-wide vulnerability assessment to identify which neighborhoods and assets would be most affected by flooding from sea level rise, increased intensity of precipitation, and heat waves. The final Report and five-year Implementation Roadmap, released by the City in December of 2016, includes a wealth of assessment, planning, mapping, and solution recommendations. The most widely used product of the CRB work is a set of flood maps showing risk exposure to various neighborhoods of Boston for different amounts of sea level rise (SLR) anticipated over the next several decades:
Phase II of Climate Ready Boston focuses on execution of various elements of the implementation road map. The City of Boston has completed detailed resilience plans for East Boston and Charlestown and will soon finish a similar initiative for South Boston and the Seaport. The Climate Preparedness Working Group was active in helping the City to organize the input of private sector stakeholders and convened its members to review progress and draft recommendations at key points throughout the planning processes for these studies. (During the remainder of 2018 and throughout 2019 the City will develop additional resilience plans for downtown Boston and Dorchester.) An important outgrowth of the planning work was the City’s decision to upgrade its Article 37 “Checklist” that encourages developers of major projects to address how they plan to tackle future climate risks. A follow up project is now focusing on the development of a SLR Overlay Zoning District for the Boston waterfront.
Feasibility of Harbor-wide Barrier Systems Seeking solutions to future flood risks along the coastline of Boston Harbor, the GRC commissioned U Mass Boston (UMB) to study the question of whether a harbor-wide barrier would have merit. Experts on the project team examined the feasibility, cost and environmental impacts of alternative barrier configurations. The study concluded that shore-based solutions along the lines of the kind being proposed in the City’s East Boston, Charlestown and Seaport resilience plans offer better probability of minimizing projected losses from flooding caused by sea level rise. Financing Climate Resilience The GRC also commissioned UMB to investigate various options for financing the estimated $1.0 B to $2.4 B of shore-based protection measures that will be needed to protect Boston over the next several decades. The study looked at a range of measures including state bonds, user fees, and business improvement districts. Resiliency Governance Study A related study is underway that focuses on whether and how changes are needed to the governance structures that form the regulatory environment for implementation of climate resilience measures and/or are used to build and maintain the kinds of capital projects envisioned in the City’s district scale resilience plans. The study will be completed by October 1. For more information on the Working Group, contact Bud Ris at email@example.com.