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White House Recognizes Salt Lake City as Climate Action Champion

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Earlier today, the White House and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognized Salt Lake City as a Climate Action Champion for showing leadership on climate change. A total of 16 U.S. communities were recognized as inaugural Climate Action Champions.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as a one of the top U.S. communities leading out on climate change and climate action,” said Mayor Ralph Becker. “Over the past seven years, we have focused on developing a comprehensive portfolio of programs and policies that will cut carbon pollution and increase community resiliency in the face of our changing climate.”

In response to recommendations presented by the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, of which Mayor Becker was an integral member, the White House launched the Climate Action Champions competition earlier this fall to identify and recognize local climate leaders and to provide targeted Federal support to help those communities further raise their ambitions.

Salt Lake City was recognized for the development of a comprehensive and well-integrated portfolio of programs and policies, including renewable energy, transportation, code revisions, water systems and building policies as priorities. The City established a joint resolution to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 50 percent below 2020 levels by 2040. Learn more about Salt Lake City’s commitment to climate action at http://dashboard.slcgov.com.

In addition to being designated as the first cohort of Climate Action Champions, the selected communities will benefit from facilitated peer-to-peer learning and mentorship and targeted support from a range of Federal programs. A coordinator will be provided to each Climate Action Champion to foster coordination and communicate across the Federal agencies, national organizations, and foundations in support of the Champions. The coordinator will also assist efforts to raise awareness of funding and technical assistance opportunities that are available specifically for Climate Action Champions.

More information on the first cohort of Climate Action Champions is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/03/fact-sheet-16-us-communities-recognized-climate-action-champions-leaders.

Mayor Becker, Leaders Present Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Recommendations to the Administration

Over the past year, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett have participated in the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Today, the White House released the list of recommendations presented to the administration by the task force and executive actions already in the works. Read on for details!

As part of the Administration’s overall effort to combat climate change, President Obama is committed to ensuring that U.S. communities thrive in the face of a changing climate. The Administration has made significant investments in resilient disaster recovery in the wake of devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that rebuilding and infrastructure projects factor in climate impacts such as sea-level rise and investing in making transit systems more resilient to flooding and extreme weather.

Last year, as part of his Climate Action Plan, the President established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that drives climate change, we must also improve our ability to prepare for the climate impacts we are already seeing across the country. The Task Force comprises Governors, Mayors, county executives and Tribal leaders from across the country who are experiencing climate change impacts ranging from more severe droughts and wildfires to record heat waves and damaging storms.  Task Force leaders have taken bold action to protect their communities by investing in more resilient infrastructure, updating building codes, adjusting the way they manage natural resources, and planning for rapid recovery from extreme weather events.

Today, at a meeting with Vice President Biden and Senior White House officials, Task Force members will present their recommendations for how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with extreme weather and other impacts of climate change. The Administration is also announcing new tools and actions to help these leaders and others contend with climate impacts and build healthy and resilient communities, including a web-based Climate Resilience Toolkit that provides for the first time easy, intuitive access to dozens of Federal tools that can directly help planners and decision makers across America conduct their work in the context of a changing climate.

Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

The Task Force’s recommendations are the culmination of a year of work to solicit input from across State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, trade associations, academic organizations, civil society, and various other stakeholders and translate their first-hand experiences into action items for the Federal Government to support climate-ready communities. The recommendations offer guidance on how the Federal Government should modernize programs and policies to incorporate climate change, incentivize and remove barriers to community resilience, and provide useful, actionable information and tools. The Task Force organized its report across seven cross-cutting themes: building resilient communities; improving resilience in the Nation’s infrastructure; ensuring resilience of natural resources; preserving human health and supporting resilient populations; supporting climate-smart hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness and recovery; understanding and acting on the economics of resilience; and building capacity.

This approach ensures that the recommendations reflect the diversity of needs across the country and within each community, ranging from health to natural resources management to infrastructure and building design. For example, the recommendations address how the Federal Government can limit disease spread that is caused or exacerbated by climate change through the development and enhancement of climate-sensitive health tracking and surveillance tools, and call on the Federal Government to integrate climate resilience planning and preparedness criteria throughout existing Federal programs, such as those that provide transportation funding, to ensure these projects will last as long as intended.

Executive Actions on Climate Resilience to Support State, Local and Tribal Leaders

At today’s meeting, Task Force members will view a demonstration of the Administration’s new Climate Resilience Toolkit, which was called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan and developed with input from the Task Force. In addition to providing easy access to resources ranging from a tool that helps planners see which neighborhoods are likely to flood in future storm surges to a tool that shows how predicted future drought conditions would affect regional crop growth, the Toolkit presents more than 20 case studies that feature step-by-step examples of how real-world decision makers have used these tools, lessons learned, and best practices. The Toolkit, which is publicly accessible at toolkit.climate.gov, initially focuses on the topics of coastal flood risk and food resilience. In the coming months, it will be updated to address additional areas such as water, ecosystems, transportation, and health.  Some features of the Toolkit include:

  • The Climate Explorer: A visualization tool that offers maps of climate stressors and impacts, as well as interactive graphs showing daily observations and long-term averages from thousands of weather stations across the Nation.
  • Steps to Resilience: A five-step process that users can follow to initiate, plan, and implement projects to help make their homes, communities, and infrastructure more resilient to climate-related hazards.
  • “Taking Action” Stories: More than 20 real-world case studies describing climate-related risks and opportunities that communities and businesses face, steps they’re taking to plan and respond, and tools and techniques they’re using to improve resilience.
  • Federal Resource Database: The Toolkit provides centralized access to federal sites for future climate projections, as well as freely available tools for accessing and analyzing climate data, generating visualizations, exploring climate projections, estimating hazards, and engaging stakeholders in resilience-building efforts.

In addition to the Toolkit, the Administration announced several other initiatives to support State, local, and Tribal climate resilience needs, including:

  • Developing Online Resilience Training for Local Officials The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing an online climate adaptation training module for local government officials with locally tailored information that can help officials answer questions about climate impacts and resilience opportunities specific to their community. The virtual training module, which is being developed with advice from members of EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee, and will be accessible through the new Climate Resilience Toolkit, will also include examples of effective resilience strategies that have been successfully implemented in representative types of cities and towns across the nation.
  • Announcing a Hampton Roads Preparedness and Resilience Exercise Led by the National Security Council and supported by the National Exercise Division, the Administration will conduct a climate preparedness exercise in partnership with State and local leaders, as well as private-sector, academic and non-governmental partners in the Hampton Roads, VA region on December 2, 2014.  Similar to successful workshops in Houston, Texas; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Anchorage Alaska, this one-day exercise provides partners with the best-available science on climate effects and consequences and a tailored scenario designed to enhance regional climate adaptation and hazard mitigation planning. This workshop will reinforce work currently underway in the Hampton Roads and Norfolk areas to address climate impacts, especially sea level rise, extreme storm surge, and recurrent flooding.
  • Creating a Disaster Recovery App The Department of Energy is launching Lantern Live, a mobile application that will provide real-time information in the wake of severe weather events on which gas stations have fuel and which neighborhoods have electricity.  The app was developed in response to lessons learned in the aftermath Hurricane Sandy, and will allow users to report and view availability of fuel at nearby gas stations and access power company outage maps.
  • Launching a Climate Education and Literacy Initiative The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is launching a Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, which has been developed in collaboration with Federal partners and shaped by input from communities and organizations across the country.  OSTP will convene leaders in education and climate science from the public, private, nongovernmental, and philanthropic sectors at the White House to discuss new commitments and steps to connect our students and citizens with the skills they will need to succeed as tomorrow’s community leaders, city planners, and entrepreneurs, in the context of a changing climate.  This effort is a key step in growing a next-generation American workforce that is equipped with scientific information and tools, grasps the climate-change challenge, and is empowered to develop and implement solutions.

The Administration has previously taken additional actions to build National resilience based on input from Task Force members. This includes launching Federal competitions – like the $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition – that spur innovation and encourage investments in community resilience, new funding to support tribes prepare for climate impacts, and making vast Federal data resources on climate change impacts more accessible to decision-makers, innovators, and the public through the Climate Data Initiative.  The Administration is also taking steps to ensure that public investments – whether in transportation systems, infrastructure, or natural resources – are made with future conditions in mind, and has ensured Federal agencies ranging from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Homeland Security are actively incorporating climate resilience into their missions and operations. Going forward, the Administration will continue to collaborate with Task Force members and other community leaders from across the country to build a healthier and more resilient Nation.

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#ActOnClimate in Salt Lake City

Over the last nine months, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake City Green Director Vicki Bennett have participated in the White House’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which was tasked with advising President Obama on how the Federal government can best respond to the needs of communities nationwide already dealing with the impacts of climate change.

The task force, made up of 26 officials from across the country, is holding its fourth and final meeting today in Washington D.C. Formal recommendations will be delivered to the President in the fall.

Today the President is announcing a series of actions to respond to the Task Force’s early feedback to help state, local, and tribal leaders prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change by developing more resilient infrastructure and rebuilding existing infrastructure stronger and smarter. See below for full details.

We’re proud to #ActOnClimate right here in Salt Lake City! Learn more at SLCgreen.com or dashboard.slcgov.com.

And check out this SLCgreen blog story about how the City is leading the way with solar!

 

FACT SHEET: Taking Action to Support State, Local, and Tribal Leaders as They Prepare Communities for the Impacts of Climate Change

Providing Federal resources to support climate preparedness:

  • National Disaster Resilience Competition. The nearly $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition, announced by the President on June 14, will make resources available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years.  Building on the success of the Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy, this competition will create replicable models of modern disaster recovery that apply science-based and forward-looking risk analysis to address recovery and resilience needs.  The competition will also help communities create and implement disaster recovery plans that will make them better prepared for future extreme weather events and other shocks.

    Today, new details for the competition are being announced by the President. The year-long competition will have two phases: (1) risk assessment and planning; and (2) design and implementation.  Many communities will be eligible for funding and technical assistance during Phase 1 to develop innovative, data-driven, and community-led approaches to recovery that increase preparedness for future disasters.  A subset of these communities will be invited to continue in Phase 2 to design solutions for recovery and future resilience. The best proposals will receive funds for implementation to demonstrate how communities across the country can build a more resilient future.  More information is available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FactSheet_071514.pdf.

  • Helping tribes prepare for climate impacts. The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs today launched a new $10 million Federal-Tribal Climate Resilience Partnership and Technical Assistance Program that will help tribes prepare for climate change by developing and delivering adaptation training. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will establish an interagency group to provide tribes with data and information, improve Federal collaboration, and assist with climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
  • Investing in the nation’s rural electric system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced awards totaling $236.3 million in funding for eight states to support improved rural electric infrastructure. A modern, reliable electric system is critical to attract and retain residents and businesses in rural communities. Supporting rural electric utilities’ deployment of smart grid technologies will increase efficiency and reliability and bring more jobs to rural America.  President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity, support the rural way of life, and ensure the Federal Government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
  • Developing advanced mapping data and tools. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal agencies today launched a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program partnership designed to bring Federal agencies, academia, corporate entities, states, tribes, and communities together to develop advanced 3-dimensional mapping data of the United States.  These data and related tools will be used in the areas of flood risk management, water resource planning, mitigation of coastal erosion and storm surge impacts, and identification of landslide hazards as an essential component of supporting action on climate resilience. More information is available at http://nationalmap.gov/3DEP/.
  • Safeguarding access to quality drinking water amid drought. USDA continues to work with producers, communities, affected states and other agencies to help address the current West Coast drought. This week, the Department will announce additional funds to help rural communities struggling with drought. These funds will help rural communities that have experienced or are likely to experience a significant decline in the quantity or quality of drinking water due to severe drought and other emergencies.


Rebuilding stronger and safer after natural disasters:

  • Establishing a Mitigation Integration Task Force.  In order to help communities build back stronger and safer in the face of new risks, FEMA has established a Mitigation Integration Task Force to develop and implement a Mitigation Integration Pilot Program by the end of August.  Working with State, tribal, local, and eligible private non-profit partners, FEMA will identify pilot projects in current and emerging disasters where there are specific opportunities to make investments that result in a more resilient outcome than using a single funding source and program.  This pilot program will work to equip communities to meet their recovery objectives and ensure that all resources are brought to bear through FEMA’s Mitigation and Recovery programs to minimize the impact of future disasters. This is part of FEMA’s goal of breaking the cycle of disasters — saving lives, protecting property, reducing losses, and allowing individuals and communities to recover more quickly after a disaster.
  • Accounting for Climate Change in Hazard Mitigation Planning.  To ensure that States are preparing for the impacts of climate change, FEMA will release new guidance for State Hazard Mitigation Plans that calls upon States to consider climate variability as part of their requirement to address the probability of future events in state planning efforts. Last issued in 2008, FEMA’s guidance for these plans helps States prepare in advance of a disaster to identify and drive actions for more resilient and sustainable recovery, such as elevating or relocating homes and businesses to reduce flood risks associated with sea-level rise and more intense storms or rebuilding to higher standards. More information is available at http://www.fema.gov/multi-hazard-mitigation-planning.

Building more resilient communities:

  • Committing to “Preparedness Pilots.”  The Administration today announced the launch of two “Preparedness Pilots” in cooperation with the City of Houston and the State of Colorado, with NASA (Johnson Space Flight Center) and the Energy Department (National Renewable Energy Laboratory).  The pilots will involve key Federal agencies in each community, including NASA, the Energy Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Agriculture. These pilots will bring together federal agencies and local communities to assess and plan for their region-specific vulnerabilities and interdependencies associated with the impacts of climate change. This effort will advance preparedness planning on the ground and help create models for other communities and agencies to follow.
  • Making our coasts more resilient.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced new program guidance under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act to ensure greater consideration of how climate change may exacerbate challenges in the management of coastal areas.  Through this effort, $1.5 million of competitive funding will be available to help states and tribes make improvements to their coastal management programs. The guidance will help state and tribal coastal managers better prepare for the impacts of climate change and improve the safety of their communities.  More information is available at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/.
  • Improving stormwater management. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today launched a Green Infrastructure Collaborative among government agencies, NGOs, and other private sector entities to advance green stormwater infrastructure.  Green infrastructure, such as urban forests and rooftop gardens, can be used as an important tool for building resilience to climate change impacts such as increased precipitation and heat island effects. Federal agencies will provide funding assistance in at least 25 communities across the country for green infrastructure projects, technical assistance to create integrated green stormwater management and hazard mitigation plans, and recognition and awards programs for innovative green infrastructure projects. Agencies will also add guidance on green infrastructure to existing Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) peer-to-peer exchange and training programs. The partnership will also provide a platform for conducting research on increasing affordability and effectiveness, sharing best practices, and developing actionable planning tools that decision-makers have been seeking.
  • Assessing climate-related health hazards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released a new guide, “Assessing Health Vulnerability to Climate Change,” to help public health departments assess local vulnerabilities to health hazards associated with climate change. The assessments will help inform targeted public health actions to reduce the health impacts of climate change. More information is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/pubs/AssessingHealthVulnerabilitytoClimateChange.pdf

 

Community Food Assessment

Community Garden Bed

How does the availability of wholesome and affordable food impact the health of our community? This is the question that Salt Lake City Green and the Mayor’s Food Policy Task Force took on when they began the Community Food Assessment.

The food assessment provides a basis for developing strategies to support local food enterprises, foster rural/urban food links (farm to plate) and expanding access to healthy and nutritious food.

“Gaining a firm understanding of Salt Lake City’s current food system is necessary to assist Salt Lake City and it’s Food Policy Task Force in creating strategic planning, policy and action steps to strengthen local urban agriculture,” states an excerpt from the report.

Food Snapshot Highlights:

  • From 1997 to 2007, Utah Certified Organic operations increased from 3 to 48.
  • Salt Lake City is home to more than 22 community, school and neighborhood gardens, providing fresh, healthy food for hundreds of residents.
  • Salt Lake City is home to eight farmers markets, providing a direct link between residents and the people growing their food, and providing more convenient, fresh, local food while growing our local food economy.
  • Approximately 20% of Salt Lake City’s residential waste is food scraps.

Stayed tuned for more in depth coverage of key findings from the report, including next steps.

In the meantime, read the draft report.

DRAFTCFAReport