DATE: June 17, 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: Zach Learner, Chief of Staff
Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs
Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs has joined 30 other mayors and county officials from around the country who have committed to creating more resilient cities, towns and counties in response to our nation’s growing extreme weather and energy challenges. As an Inaugural Signatory of the Resilient Communities for America campaign, Mayor Jacobs is among the first local elected officials in the nation to showcase her leadership on these key issues testing America’s communities.
The national campaign, which launched today, recognizes that local governments like Broward County are on the front lines of responding to increasing disasters and disruptions fueled by a changing climate. An unprecedented increase in heat waves, droughts, floods, severe storms, and wildfires have devastated communities nationwide over the past two years and cost America $188 billion in damages. Communities are also put at risk by unreliable and costly energy, thanks to volatile global prices and aging infrastructure taxed by extreme weather.
“We cannot ignore the challenges we face in Broward County and so many other regions across the country,” said Mayor Jacobs. “We’re not seeing enough action from the federal government on climate change and extreme weather, so it’s up to us at the local level. Southeast Florida has risen to the challenge as the collaborative efforts of the four counties of southeast Florida, working together as the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, so clearly demonstrates. Our region is already a national leader on climate and adaptation issues, and I am committed to helping Broward County become even more resilient and prepared—to keep our communities safe and strong and keep our economy competitive.”
The Resilient Communities for America campaign seeks to champion the work of Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs and other local elected officials and local governments at the forefront of the emerging national movement to build resilience — and to inspire hundreds more to follow their lead. Local governments can take a wide range of actions to prepare and protect community members, businesses, infrastructure, and natural resources, and allow communities to bounce back faster from disruptions and disasters. Every $1 spent on disaster risk reduction can save $4 in recovery and emergency response costs — making resilience efforts a sound investment for our community.
South Florida is more vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and rising sea levels than almost any other area in the country. Tropical storms and hurricanes have long been a fact of life in Florida, but with the higher sea levels and more intense storms expected as a result of climate change, we will experience bigger storm surges, more serious flooding, and greater wind damage. As we saw from Hurricane Sandy and other storms last fall, even a glancing blow from a tropical storm can lead to serious beach erosion and the collapse of coastal infrastructure like State Road A1A in Fort Lauderdale. Climate change is even expected to make the “normal” daily storms of summer more intense, as southeastern Broward County experienced earlier this month. Higher sea levels will not only make it more difficult to drain flooded areas to the ocean after a storm, but will also increase the risk of saltwater intrusion in the aquifer which supplies Broward County’s drinking water.
In response to these challenges, Broward County has already taken a range of cost-effective actions that increase our resilience:
• Streamlining the permitting process for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, making it easier for residents and businesses to benefit from renewable energy.
• Collaborating with Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties in the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact, which has developed a unified sea level rise project, baseline greenhouse gas inventory, vulnerability analysis, and a Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) with 110 action items for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.
• Adding a Climate Element to the Broward County Comprehensive Plan and adopting changes to the county’s land use maps to encourage greater consideration of sea level rise and other climate impacts on development in vulnerable areas.
In signing the Resilient Communities for America Agreement, Mayor Jacobs joins 30 other leading mayors and county leaders from across the country, including Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, D.C.; Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Calif.; Mayor John Cook of El Paso, Texas; and Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, N.J.
The campaign Agreement letter they signed lays out three commitments for local elected officials:
• To urge state and federal leaders to support local resilience initiatives and to take meaningful steps to build resilience and security throughout the nation.
• To build community resilience through their own self-defined local actions and goals (emphasizing actions that address climate change, energy security, infrastructure renewal, and economic recovery).
• To share their solutions and success stories with other local governments to help accelerate their progress on resilience.
Learn more at resilience4america.org. To contact Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs, visit broward.org/commission/District2.