NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released a report by the New York City Panel on Climate Change that outlines the need for early and ongoing adaptation actions in New York City and identifies best practices in climate change adaptation planning. The report, “Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response,” is one of the most comprehensive studies on climate change adaptation undertaken by a municipality and was published in the latest issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. The report includes New York City-specific climate change projections, tools to help entities identify climate vulnerabilities and develop adaptation strategies, and recommendations on how to foster an effective climate resilience program – many of which have already been adopted by the city as part of PlaNYC, New York City’s comprehensive sustainability plan. Convened by the mayor in 2008, the New York City Panel on Climate Change consists of leading climate and impact scientists, academics, economists, and legal, insurance, and risk management experts. The work of the panel was funded through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

“Through PlaNYC, we are re-imagining what New York City can be – and must be – in the year 2030 if we are to maintain and improve our quality of life as our population continues to grow,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Addressing the challenges posed by climate change is central to this mission and critical to our city’s future.”

“The report presents recommendations on how to develop a risk-based approach to climate change adaptation that is consistent with a flexible and dynamic science-policy connection,” said Cynthia Rosenzweig, PhD, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies/Columbia University Earth Institute and co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. “Planning for climate change and taking action now will help limit damages and costs in the coming decades and, in many cases, can provide near-term benefits including operational savings and job creation.”

“The panel developed actionable scientific findings on the potential impacts of climate change on the city, as well as a set of tools to foster practical, flexible adaptative measures,” said William Solecki, director, Institute for Sustainable Cities, City University of New York and co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. “The report released … provides a comprehensive roadmap for climate change adaptation of critical infrastructure in New York City that other cities can follow.”

The New York City Panel on Climate Change found that while climate change poses real and significant risks to New York City, the city has many tools in place to facilitate climate change adaptation. The report stressed the need to address climate change through a planning process that encourages flexible strategies that can be implemented over time in response to increases in risk and better understanding of climate change. Key recommendations in the report include:
•Adopting a risk-based approach to building climate change resilience;
•Soliciting ongoing advice from a body of experts on climate change issues;
•Monitoring climate change and impacts over time;
•Including multiple layers of government and the private sector in adaptation planning;
•Reviewing standards and codes to determine their ability to withstand changes in the city’s environmental baseline;
•Working with the insurance industry;
•Developing strategies for near- and mid-term impacts, as well as longer-term impacts; and
•Focusing on early strategies that have near-term benefits or meet multiple goals.

In February 2009, the panel released the first official climate change projections for New York City, which projected that New York City faces higher temperatures and more rapidly rising sea levels, as well as more frequent and intense extreme weather events – such as heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding – over the course of the next century. As a result, by the end of the century the city’s climate may be more similar to North Carolina than present day New York.

The work of the panel is being used by the New York City Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, a PlaNYC initiative that consists of 40 city, state, federal, and private sector infrastructure operators and regulators, and is working to identify climate risks to the city’s critical infrastructure and develop strategies to mitigate these risks. The results of this effort will be completed later this year. The New York City Panel on Climate Change worked closely with the Task Force to develop actionable climate change projections and scientific information.

To aid the city’s development of climate resilience strategies, the panel developed three workbooks that were included as appendices to their report. The Climate Risk Information workbook presents climate trends and projections for New York City. The Adaptation Assessment Guidebook outlines a process through which stakeholders can develop and implement adaptation plans, which draw on many of the practices of the NYC Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. The Climate Protection Levels workbook highlights the need to develop design standards that incorporate climate change projections.

To view the full report, visit www.nyc.gov.

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