What Miami Is Doing About Climate Change
Author: Gabi Jonikas
Though Miami has always been prone to hurricanes, storm surges, and flooding, the city’s response to climate change over the past decade has become increasingly important in influencing its growth and future. Miami is taking big steps towards implementing an innovative and widely beneficial approach to combating climate change in order to ensure a sustainable future for its residents.
Miami is adapting to the impacts of climate change by implementing several strategies. The Miami Forever Climate Ready Strategy, for example, is focused around reducing the increasing risks of the impacts caused by floods, heat, and storms that could occur over the next 40 years. The Stormwater Master Plan, an update of the 2012 plan of the same name, plans to incorporate modern technology to perform models on drainage areas, provide options for flood reductions, assess the current seawalls, and recommend future actions for improvement to address city sea-level rises. The Miami Forever Bond plans to build a stronger and more resilient future for Miami by alleviating current and future climate risks to residents, tourism, the economy, and the city’s legacy. They plan to fund a series of projects totaling $400 million in five key categories aligning with the city’s most urgent needs: Sea-Level Rise and Flood Prevention, Roadways, Parks and Cultural Facilities, Public Safety and Affordable Housing.
Miami is working towards carbon neutrality by 2050 and is taking measures to reduce carbon emissions. They are a signatory to the We Are Still In pledge, which promises to uphold the goals set out by the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement at a local level and requires ambitious action towards greenhouse gas reductions and carbon neutrality. In order to accomplish this, Miami has implemented MiPlan, the city’s climate action plan. The report details a number of initiatives for the city divided into 5 categories: Buildings, Energy, Transportation, Land Use, and Adaptation. Each of these categories has a goal for reducing emissions as well as recommended actions for the city to take to achieve that goal and the city’s overall emission reduction goals. The top five initiatives are: increasing energy efficiency in buildings, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation, reducing emissions from transportation, implementing more efficient land use planning, and beginning adaptation planning.
Miami is addressing its community’s sustainability in a variety of ways. For example, Chapter 17 of the City Code is focused around protecting, preserving and restoring the tree canopy in the City of Miami by regulating the removal, relocation, pruning and trimming of trees. This chapter serves to assure that the design and construction of all development activity within the City of Miami is executed in a manner consistent with the preservation of existing trees and to maximize the city’s tree canopy to the largest extent possible. Additionally, they passed a Fertilizer Ordinance in April 2020 that restricts what types of fertilizers can be applied on public and private grounds within the city as well as when and where they can be applied. Additionally, this Ordinance establishes Prohibited Application Periods that have additional restrictions due to heavy rainfall and likelihood of flooding. This policy was created because fertilizers contain nitrogen and phosphorus that, in large quantities, can pollute waterways, harm marine wildlife, and cause dangerous algal blooms.
In order to work further towards resilience and sustainability, the City of Miami often participates in partnerships with professional networks, non-profit organizations, private businesses, and other public entities to deepen learning and develop impactful initiatives. For example, they are actively involved in their partnership with Ocean Conservancy’s Shores Forward, which helps fight to conserve Florida’s most treasured assets: its ocean and coasts. Miami is working with Ocean Shores to take action on water quality, marine wildlife, education and outreach, ocean trash, and carbon pollution.