When you were a child, I’m sure your parents told you that just because your friends were doing something didn’t mean it was ok for you to do it, too.

EXCEPT, when it comes to the Sustainability and Resiliency of our city, it is ESSENTIAL to do what our neighboring cities are doing. Most of our neighboring cities are embracing sustainability to ensure the future resiliency of their city and protect their residents. How? By joining the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact.

The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact is an agreement among four southern counties in Florida: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe. Geographically, it covers all vulnerable areas from Jupiter to Key West. The purpose of the compact is “to discuss challenges and strategies for responding to the impacts of climate change. The Compact outlines an ongoing collaborative effort among the Compact Counties to foster sustainability and climate resilience at a regional scale.” This compact was so well organized and the Action Plan so well written that it was lauded by President Obama as an example for the rest of the nation to follow.

Below is a list of municipalities that have signed the Mayor’s Pledge.  By signing the Mayor’s Pledge, municipalities agree to support the compact’s Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) and implement the initiatives that make sense for their municipality.

City of Fort Lauderdale
Adopted 11/6/2012
City of Wilton Manors
Adopted 3/12/2013
City of Key West
Adopted 12/4/2012
City of Deerfield Beach
Adopted 3/19/2013
City of Boynton Beach
Adopted 12/4/2012
City of Margate
Adopted 3/20/2013
Town of Hillsboro Beach
Adopted 12/5/2012
City of Sunrise
Adopted 3/26/2013
Village of Pinecrest
Adopted 12/11/2012
Town of Surfside
Adopted 5/15/2013
City of Dania Beach
Adopted 1/22/2013
City of South Miami
Adopted 9/3/2013
City of Hollywood
Adopted 1/23/2013
Town of Bay Harbor Islands
Adopted 2013
City of Lauderhill
Adopted 1/28/2013
City of Delray Beach
Adopted January 21, 2014
Town of Davie
Adopted 2/6/2013
City of West Palm Beach
Adopted May 26, 2015
City of Hallandale Beach
Adopted 2/6/2013
City of Coral Gables
Adopted August 25, 2015
City of Miami Beach
Adopted 2/6/2013
Town of Key Biscayne
Adopted November 12, 2015
City of Pompano Beach
Adopted 2/12/2013
City of Hialeah
Adopted December 11, 2015
City of Oakland Park
Adopted 2/20/2013
Town of Jupiter
Adopted December 15, 2015
Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
Adopted 2/26/2013
Village of Islamorada
Adopted September 25, 2016
City of Coconut Creek
Adopted 2/28/2013
Miami Shores Village
Adopted October 3, 2016
City of North Lauderdale
Adopted 3/12/2013
City of Miami
Adopted April 11, 2017

 

As you can see, 32 municipalities within the 4 counties have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protecting their residents from the effects of climate change: sea level rise, salt water intrusion into our freshwater supplies, protecting our infrastructure, preserving natural areas, and so much more.

Of great consequence, please note Boca Raton is NOT included on this list! Every resident and business owner in the city of Boca Raton should be as baffled and concerned as I am that Mayor Haynie refuses to sign this Pledge. Failing to commit to being a part of this scientifically based regional effort puts every resident in harm’s way. She is unwilling to commit to efforts to protect us from the inevitable effects of climate change.  After speaking with another Palm Beach County mayor, it became abundantly clear to me that Mayor Haynie has no intention of incorporating sustainability and resiliency into city operations. It would appear she is too focused on her development friends and their pet projects. Remarkably, even the most fundamental sustainability features, like LEED certification, are not being required.

Is Mayor Haynie afraid that if she signs the Mayor’s Pledge and doesn’t adopt any of the initiatives she will be sued? Well, Mayor Haynie, perhaps someone will sue you for not signing the pledge! In my opinion, this is a classic case of reckless endangerment of every city resident and business.

In addition, The Florida Leagues of Cities, which Mayor Haynie is the President, has endorsed the RCAP as its guidelines for regional climate action.

The main way to begin protecting the residents and businesses of Boca Raton is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere. These emissions are the result of burning fossil fuels in the generation of electricity, fuel usage, landfill emission, even agriculture byproducts. Boca Raton must start to identify the amount of GHG emissions it is responsible for and begin to identify ways to reduce them.

Hiring a Sustainability Officer at the city would be the first step to begin the GHG emissions analysis. I have been advocating for this since I was chairperson of the Green Living Advisory Board.  This position would be responsible for tracking the city electricity, water, waste and fuel usage.  Baselines would be created and then goals could be set to reduce the usages. This would save the city money and residents’ tax dollars that could go to better uses like upgrading our infrastructure, i.e. roads and bridges, to protect them from the rising seas.

In a nutshell, the main steps to ensure a resilient and prosperous future for city residents and business are:

  1. Sign the Mayor’s Pledge of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
  2. Hire a Sustainability Officer
  3. Create a greenhouse gas inventory for the city
  4. Write a Sustainability Action Plan for the city that will provide benchmarks and goals to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. This plan would incorporate action items from the RCAP regional plan and items unique to Boca Raton.

If Boca Raton truly wants to be a “world-class” city and attract the best and brightest companies and workers, then sustainability must be on its agenda. Every truly “world class” city understands that focusing on sustainability reduces a city’s operating expenses, protects its infrastructure, and provides a model for residents and businesses to follow. We are all in this together.  Together we can build a more vibrant Boca Raton where people from around the world will want to live, work, play, and raise their families.

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, writes in his new book, Climate of Hope, “Most of the things that make cities better, cleaner, healthier, and more economically productive places, also reduce carbon emissions.”