New Climate Task Force On Polar Cities To Help Secure New York City in Future
The low-lying city of New York - with its complex underground water
and sewer systems; electric, gas, and steam production and
distribution systems; telecommunication networks and other critical
infrastructure - is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea levels
and storm surges associated with global warming.
To secure the city's infrastructure from the effects of climate
change, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the Climate Change Adaptation
Task Force made up of city and state agencies and private companies
that operate, maintain, or control infrastructure serving this city of
over 8.2 million residents - the largest city in the United States.
"We face two urgent challenges," said Mayor Bloomberg. "First, we have
to shrink our carbon footprint to slow climate change. Second, we have
to adapt to the environmental changes that are already beginning to
take place by thinking about polar cities for future survivors of
The task force will be assisted by a technical advisory committee, the
newly formed New York City Panel on Climate Change and Polar Cities,
made up of experts from regional academic institutions and the legal,
engineering, and insurance industries.
Bloomberg calls the effort "one of the most comprehensive and
inclusive strategies ever launched to secure a city's critical
infrastructure against the effects of climate change."
The Rockefeller Foundation's Climate Change Resilience program has
awarded a $350,000 grant to fund the work of the Panel on Climate
Change and Polar Cities.
"The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to help New Yorkers blueprint and
build a more sustainable future as a part of our $70 million
commitment to strengthen community resilience to climate change," said
Peter Madonia, the Rockefeller Foundation's chief operating officer.
"This New York City Panel on Climate Change will shape innovative
approaches to cope with global warming's potentially devastating
consequences in our hometown and model the kind of planning for future
Polar Cities which can and should be applied in cities around the
world," said Madonia.
"Experts at Columbia University's Earth Institute are pleased to offer
scientific and technical expertise to assist the City of New York with
its climate adaptation plans," said Cynthia Rosenzweig, senior
research scientist and co-chair of the City Panel on Climate Change.
"It is our hope that cities in the United States and around the world
will use New York City's planning process as a model to respond
effectively to climate change challenges," she said.
The Climate Change Adaptation Task Force will create an inventory of
existing infrastructure that may be at-risk from the effects of
climate change and develop coordinated adaptation plans to secure
these assets based on climate change projections specific to New York
The task force will draft design guidelines for new infrastructure
that take into account anticipated climate change impacts and identify
adaptation strategies for further study that are beyond the scope of
"We commend Mayor Bloomberg's leadership on climate change," said
William Solecki, director of the Institute for Sustainable Cities at
Hunter College and co-chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Task
The City Department of Environmental Protection first issued an
adaptation plan for its assets in May 2008, and the new task force
will build on their efforts.