Creating and Expanding Funding Streams for Adaptation Planning and Implementation
Cities and communities are confronted with planning and implementing climate adaptation with very few resources available to help pay for the help they need. Adaptation funding is competing against already limited funding for schools, police, and libraries from scarce local resources. So, while adaptation is a responsible long-term investment for communities, it is usually very difficult to secure adequate funding for planning and implementation. During this webinar we will explore ways to use existing mandates for implementing adaptation, give an example of how adaptation is moving forward in the City of Cleveland, and provide a forum for discussion on challenges and creative ways to move adaptation forward.
This webinar is the first of the National Adaptation Webinar Series and is sponsored by EcoAdapt and Georgetown Law Center and hosted by CAKEx.org.
This webinar will focus on identifying existing adaptation funding streams and using existing resources and mandates to implement adaptation.
1:15-1:30Sara P. Hoverter, Senior Fellow (health & climate) and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law Center, will discuss federal opportunities and challenges to supporting state and local adaptation. Download the presentation.
1:30-1:45 Jenita McGowan, Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland will discuss the Cleveland Climate Action Plan and the challenges and plans for implementation. Download the presentation.
1:45-2:00 Open discussion and questions for panel members.
Excellent adaptation webinar from EcoAdapt and CAKEX.
Let me be blunt: there is no such thing as a “natural” disaster. Disasters are complex, multifaceted, frequent, and overwhelming. We have a hard time fully grasping the nuance and complexity of each disaster – particularly one that strikes halfway across the world – so we turn to calling it a “natural” event. The term natural disaster is, in essence, a heuristic that we fall back upon in order to interpret the event.
A disaster is widely perceived as an event that is beyond human control; the capricious hand of fate moves against unsuspecting communities creating massive destruction and prompting victims to call for divine support as well as earthly assistance.
Huffington Post (yes, HuffPo) published an excellent article on how U.S. cities are not even closely prepared for hurricanes, sea-level rise, or strong storms.
They point out that these vulnerabilities are our own doing. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg admits to assisting businesses and people build in harms way.
Bloomberg has in general been skeptical about actually limiting development on the water. “People like to live in low-lying areas, on the beach; it’s attractive,” he told a reporter after Sandy. “People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water, even though you could argue they should pay less because it’s more dangerous. But people are willing to run the risk.”
The city’s progress on adapting to storm surge risk has so far consisted mainly of smaller steps, like working with private and public players to harden the electrical grid and seal off the subway system against the threat of flooding.
In other words, city officials are too scared, too weak, or just too ignorant to warn citizens that their lives, investments, or families are at high risk from obliteration. This is not an exaggeration. Even local officials shrug their shoulders when it comes to developing along risky ocean fronts:
Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, argued that development along the Jersey Shore has been ongoing for decades, even before there was a coastal permitting program. He said it is not the state’s role to dictate how redevelopment should occur.
“People who live along the shore always live with a risk, and they know that. That’s understood,” he said. “We at the state are not going to tell these towns you can or cannot rebuild, but we will work with them to make sure that whatever comes back will be done in as smart or protective a fashion as possible.”
What’s worse is that these cities and towns claim they are “vital” pieces of the U.S. economy. Yet, they’re not willing (or capable) to pay for clean up and rebuilding after a storm hits - that’s forced upon the American tax payer…
1) The Philippines has become increasingly vulnerable to typhoons for lots of reasons — and climate change is only one angle here.
Thanks to basic geography, the Philippines has long been one of the most storm-ravaged places on Earth, with about 8 to 9 typhoons making landfall each year, on average. The warm waters surrounding the island nation help fuel strong tropical cyclones, and there are few natural barriers to slow the storms down or break them up. … 2) Typhoons aren’t the only natural disaster the Philippines has to worry about. … But the precise risks are often difficult to pinpoint — and that makes preparation even harder. Many climate models still have trouble making predictions at a very fine-grained, regional level. And typhoons are especially difficult to forecast: While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks it’s “likely” that tropical cyclones will get stronger as the oceans warm, it’s less clear how the frequency of storms will change in the years ahead (they may even become less frequent).
3) Adaptation can help, but it’s not always enough. Many countries have managed to reduce their exposure to natural disasters over the years by implementing detailed adaptation plans. If climate change does increase the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead, then those plans will become increasingly important. …
Bangladesh, for instance, has steadily reduced the number of deaths from tropical cyclones since the 1970s through early-warning systems, shelters and evacuation plans, and building coastal embankments.
4) Where will the money come from for adaptation? There are two key questions that always come up at international climate talks like the one now going on in Warsaw. First, how will the world cut its carbon emissions to slow global warming? And second, where will the money come from to help poorer states prepare for its effects? The second question is likely to get more attention in the wake of Haiyan. …
"We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing," Saño told the Guardian. “It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.”
President Obama issues new Executive Order, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change." The new EO, issued November 1st, directs the agencies to
1) Federal infrastructure spending will have to take climate into account. Agencies are supposed to examine their policies and find ways to help states prepare for the effects of climate change.
So, for example, federal disaster-relief programs that help coastal communities rebuild after a storm or flood will have to take into account the possibility that the next storm or flood could be even worse. Likewise, roads and bridges built with federal money will have to be planned with changing climate conditions — such as future sea-level rise — in mind.
2) Water- and land- management will get revamped. Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior will have to review their land- and water-management policies to take shifting conditions into account.
For example, agencies will have to ”evaluate how to better promote natural storm barriers such as dunes and wetlands” and figure out “how to protect the carbon sequestration benefits of forests and lands to help reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” (The EPA has already released its plans to this effect.)
3) The federal government will try to provide better data on what climate impacts are actually coming. As part of the executive order, federal agencies are supposed to offer better information “that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.” - WaPo
It’s an integrative approach, folding climate science and data into decision making at the federal level. Each agency was directed to create an adaptation policy back in 2011. Now the agencies have to implement their plans and use the National Climate Assessment and other findings from peer-reviewed climate scientists. This new EO builds upon several(!) orders by the President, including Executive Order 13514, which I wrote about here.
Adaptation planning in the Philippines, Vietnam and Nepal with funding provided by the Swedish Government:
Adaptation planning for climate change requires inputs from multiple levels of stakeholders and multiple layers of decision-making. New mechanisms may have to be developed within existing institutional arrangements to facilitate cross-level communication.
One of the biggest challenges is to determine who ‘owns’ the adaptation planning process. While by default, it will often be the national government, this is likely to limit the influence of local and marginalized voices, which are crucial to the process. External actors such as international NGOs, meanwhile, can be helpful, but can also take power away from local actors and create dependency.
Participatory processes need to include all voices to be effective. Power imbalances – based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity and cultural traditions – marginalize some groups and limit their capacity to reduce their exposure and sensitivity to climate and disaster risk. To reduce vulnerability, these imbalances must be recognized and addressed, and marginalized groups must be empowered and engaged.
Budgetary constraints matter. When funds are limited, smaller and less ambitious projects may be preferable to larger, more costly initiatives. However, in many places, transformational change is needed, and this will require large-scale funding.
Planning is often done based on previous years, but with climate change, historical patterns will increasingly not be reliable predictors of future patterns. Science-based projections will need to be considered as well.
NPR asks: If coastal communities are so economically vibrant, why can’t they pay to rebuild after storms? Should the Federal Government continue to pay and subsidize rebuilding America’s coastal cities?
The report criticizes the NFIP’s “perverse” incentives, including artificially low insurance rates and other subsidies. The program should instead, according to the UCS report, set rates that reflect true risk and phase out unfair subsidies. This will help coastal communities make smarter choices about building and rebuilding in flood-prone areas, and ensure that U.S. taxpayers aren’t saddled with rapidly increasing flooding and disaster relief costs.
A particularly wasteful aspect of the NFIP program is that it continues to pay out claims on properties in high risk areas that have been repeatedly flooded, with virtually no penalties. UCS has created a map based on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data that shows egregious instances of repetitive-loss claims along the Gulf coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and along many parts of the Atlantic coast, including Florida, North Carolina, New York and Massachusetts. According to the NFIP, though repetitive-loss properties account for just 1.3 percent of overall policies, they have been responsible for 25 percent of all NFIP payments (almost $9 billion) since 1978, and are expected to account for 15 to 20 percent of future NFIP losses.
“The problem is two-fold,” said Rachel Cleetus, a senior climate economist at UCS and author of the report “Overwhelming Risk: Rethinking Flood Insurance in a World of Rising Seas.” “The coasts are becoming more populated and built-up, so we have more people and more valuable property in harm’s way. At the same time, climate change is contributing to sea level rise, generating more intense hurricanes, and causing bigger, more damaging storm surge.
The result is that coastal residents and business owners are at increased risk and taxpayers nationwide are looking at shelling out more money to help with post-storm rebuilding efforts.”
Thousands of homeowners in flood-prone parts of the country are going to be in for a rude awakening. On Oct. 1, new changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers government-subsidized policies for households and businesses threatened by floods, mean that businesses in flood zones and homes that have been severely or repeatedly flooded will start going up 25% a year until rates reach levels that would reflect the actual risk from flooding. (Higher rates for second or vacation homes went into effect at the start of 2013.)
That means that property owners in flood-prone areas who might have once been paying around $500 a year—rates that were well below what the market would charge, given the threat from flooding—will go up by thousands of dollars over the next decade.
That change, unsurprisingly, has affected homeowners from the seaside coast of New Jersey to the Gulf beaches of Louisiana very unhappy. On September 28, dozens of Long Islanders—many of them victims of Superstorm Sandy—converged at the Babylon Town Hall for a “Stop FEMA” rally, one of several held around the country. (FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, runs the NFIP.)
Congressional representatives from states like Louisiana and Florida that are likely to be hard hit by the NFIP changes are raising hell, calling for FEMA to delay the implementation of the new rules. FEMA says its hands are tied—Craig Fugate, the agency’s director, told a Senate subcommittee at the end of the September that the Biggert-Waters Act, the law passed last summer to adjust NFIP rates, gives him no leeway to postpone the changes to NFIP just because they may be unaffordable to some property owners.
For readers actually into climate adaptation and urban planning, this is huge, huge news. Click here to read more about the the Flood Insurance Act of 2012. This basically undoes decades of subsidizing risky properties in the U.S.
The burden of living in risky, flood-prone areas will shift more towards the individual home owner and away from the American taxpayers.
What are your thoughts on the NFIP? Should the rates stay the same or be adjusted?
This huge algal bloom in Lake Erie (that’s Detroit up there) broke out during government shutdown was not being tracked. The federal shutdown closed NOAA monitoring of unexpected health hazard. Read more at Sandusky Register
Boesch and Horn Point Laboratory led a panel of scientists who have predicted a one-and-a-half-foot sea level rise in our area by the year 2050.
It was published in an independent, scientific report earlier this year.
The report recommended that it would be prudent to prepare for the sea level along Maryland’s 3,100 miles of tidal shoreline to be 2.1 feet higher in 2050 than it was in 2000.
The panel’s best estimate was a sea level rise of 1.4 feet, but no less than 0.9 feet and no greater than 2.1 feet by 2050.
“That’s not that far away,” Hall said.
The scientists reached their conclusions by factoring in the expansion of the earth’s collective ocean volume as it warms, along with more water from the glaciers and ice sheets melting in Greenland and Antarctica. Other considerations include changing dynamics in the ocean, such as a slowing of the Gulf Stream, and vertical land movement.
hello-linny asked: Hi! Denser city living now seems to be the best solution for the billions of people added to the earth. But many prefer to live in big houses in the suburbs (than in tiny apartments), and would rather drive long distances to their workplace (than experience overcrowding on public transports). What do you propose would be the best way in encouraging both denser city living whilst having good neighbourhood satisfaction? Thanks
This is incredibly complicated and I’m not really going to answer your question directly. There are a variety of design and urban planning techniques to help cities be more dense while being more livable. Form Based Code, Smart Growth, sustainable planning, etc., are very common, easily replicable, and very flexible solutions to this.
The problem with these solutions are that people are not staying in one place for very long. This trend of people moving to cities will slow a bit, and cities can adapt and absorb the influxes.
The real question, to my mind, is how to make them stay? These new people rarely participate in local government. They rarely stay or invest in a place, typically using the city as a catalyst to elevate their socioeconomic standing.
This is fine, but cities will suffer in the next demographic swing. As it stands, most cities are planning for the next 10-20 years using a stable or growing tax base. This is just not true. Tax receipts will not continue to grow, they’ll be more volatile, creating deeper dips and higher spikes in local economies.
Tax receipts, which are used for things like water, health, education, environment, security, business development, and transportation, will (probably) implode.
Detroit (or the entire country of Japan) is a good example of this. Both based their planning goals on false demographics.
So, while most cities are scrambling to provide design solutions, they really should be pivoting towards investing in the people. How? Diversity in education systems. Having a strong public school system is great, creating a system that includes charter, specialty, religious schooling options is even better. Assisting people with their health care options should include increased focus on mental health. Study after study has shown that when people improve their mental health, their physical health and relationships with communities greatly improves. Investment in parks, environmental quality, and conservation areas consistently (in nearly every country) show economic and health resiliency.
There are tons of other things, like creating a Happiness Index, which measures how happy people are in the current situations. If there are dips and swings to this index, government can nudge the bar in one direction or the other.