SIM Social Impact Movement

How COVID-19 Impacted Miami’s Climate Action

Author: Gabi Jonikas

Climate action has been a growing concern in Miami for the past decades, nonetheless the city still lacks a comprehensive climate impact planning. There have been discret efforts toward carbon mitigation, sustainability within the city, and partnerships between nonprofits and businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down efforts toward sustainability in Miami, as well as worldwide. Using more disposable products in order to remain sanitary has become a growing trend, and carbon emissions have increased as people have been forced to get the majority of shopping orders shipped to them, rather than shopping in person. It is more important than ever to get back on track for climate action, and it’s important to take note of the changes that have occurred in Miami.

The Impact of Climate Change on Miami

It’s never been easy for Miami and other cities in South Florida to react to climate change, considering the proximity of Florida to the ocean along with rising sea levels. Unfortunately, the pandemic has required Miami’s government to spend much of their budget on Covid-19 relief. Much of the money that could have been allotted toward sustainability has gone elsewhere out of necessity. One unfortunate outcome has been the impending loss of the town Surfside within Miami, as flood control and concerns for this town have increased. Money once planned to go toward saving at risk homes has needed to be redirected toward the emergency of the pandemic. Sadly, this one anecdote about Surfside is one of many oncoming struggles occurring in Miami, ravaging the climate. 

Covid-19 vs. The Interests of the City

Miami relies on being a tourist destination, and if the water overtakes the beach, the appeal of the city as a tourist town will decrease. The most important thing about Miami is certainly not its tourist attractions, but much of the income made by Miami residents is related to tourism, and saving the tourism industry in the city is important. Miami is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters because of its location, so providing less aid to organizations that exist to help fight climate change has led to the unfortunate reality of climate change in Miami worsening quicker. It will cost 18 million dollars to raise seawalls, which is only a temporary solution to address climate change. Miami has been put in a difficult position, as prioritizing the health of citizens is a more immediate concern than protecting the city in the long run. In a fight for human health or against somewhat slowly rising sea levels, human health is the priority.

Redirecting Efforts in the Future

Miami has many notable programs, nonprofits, and businesses that have attempted to fight climate change. The Miami Forever Climate Ready Strategy, for example, focuses on reduction of the risks of the impacts caused by floods, heat, and storms. The Miami Forever Bond plans to build a stronger and more resilient future for Miami, planning to direct $400 million in five key categories aligning with the city’s most urgent needs. Organizations are continuing to emerge in hopes to provide extra support to Miami’s future climate, which the Miami government has not been able to provide during the pandemic. Though the pandemic has caused difficulties for South Florida, now is not a time to give up hope. Organizations and nonprofits that are working harder than ever to fight climate change can make a huge impact on the future of Miami.