World Class Cities Understand ‘Sustainability and Resiliency’ Attract the Best and the Brightest!

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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.”

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Monica is a 20-year Boca Raton resident and the former chairperson of the city’s Green Living Advisory Board. She is the Florida Regional Climate Reality Leader for the Climate Reality Project (www.climaterealityproject.org) and a volunteer for the Citizens Climate Lobby (www.citizensclimatelobby.org). Over the past several years, she has been committed to advocating for a sustainable lifestyle for all by reducing our impact on our environment by eliminating the use of fossil fuels for energy, through water protection and conservation, and by healthy living.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations to Mayor Haynie for not jumping on the Agenda 21/2030 gangster bandwagon of tyranny.
    Anthropogenic global warming is a fraud designed to destroy people’s liberty and property rights. It is junk science based on computer projections from false hypotheses and selective data–not the wider empirical evidence which disproves those false hypotheses. Verifiable experimentation defines the scientific method, not a “consensus” based on selective government funding and subsidies for certain academics and their resulting evangelism.
    Carbon dioxide functions as a fertilizer for plants, not a pollutant, no matter what government bureaucrats and judges may declare. Its level in the atmosphere has varied through history and prehistory, and has nothing to do with human or dinosaur behavior. More native plants and fewer busy-body homo sapiens would benefit Boca Raton.
    The political partisans pushing a “sustainability” culture and polity just seek more government patronage jobs and bureaucracy to control other people and take their money. If these watermelons–green on the outside and red on the inside–were really frightened, they would move out of Florida to seek higher ground while property values are high; instead, they stay in their homes by the water and whine to whoever will listen.

  2. Those of us who live on the barrier island in condos(10,000-15,000) plus the low lying areas of Port La Mar and other neighborhoods are already being effected by the climate changes to the planet. Not just during hurricanes but simple and regular events such as king tides flood our streets and breach our sea walls to the point where the city drainage system cannot keep up.

    For the Eastern part town that is only about ten feet above sea level it only makes common and logical sense to join with the dozens of other surrounding towns to join Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. To join and listen to the experts cost nothing to not listen could cost millions.

    Randy Kassal

  3. While I disagree with some of the editorializing in this piece (re: Mayor Haynie’s possible motivations), I agree with the overall thrust of the piece: Boca Raton needs to get onboard. Climate change science is not a conspiracy, and we are at the forefront of those who will suffer the effects. Sea level rise is happening while we bicker – even if one were to suppose that it is not human-caused, enabling Boca Raton to better withstand the coming changes will make it a stronger city.

  4. Yes the morons in this thread know more about climate science than 99% of those in that profession. The only science climate change deniers need to research is the Dunning – Krueger effect. I bet you also believe vaccines cause autism.

  5. I agree 100% with this article and commend Monica for communicating the issues so effectively including necessary and attainable actions for the city to take. Climate change is real and is already impacting South Florida. When 97% of scientists from the most renowned institutions around the world agree on something–IT IS FACT. Deniers are only delaying the critical action we need to take now and putting themselves, their friends, and their neighbors at risk. We already have clear evidence we can see with our own eyes today. Just look at Miami Beach for one of many examples. Rising sea levels and more frequent and powerful storms are imminent. Our town is right on the ocean, so we must do something now. I also learned recently that sea level rise can also cause flooding farther inland due to changes in the underground water table.
    Here are some additional priorities that I would like to see the city take on to protect the citizens of Boca from what will ultimately be an ECONOMIC DISASTER:
    1. Reduce new development. Instead, focus on redeveloping all the areas that are sitting vacant. I am astonished how many signs I see on Federal Highway and Military Trail indicating all the office space available. Let’s redevelop what we already have, and let’s do this in an energy-efficient way such as with LEED-certified buildings.
    2.. Stay innovative by attracting green businesses to Boca. Renewable energy is booming across this country. Let’s work to bring more of these companies to our city so we can be cutting edge and competitive.
    3. Look for and encourage cleaner transportation options. Build more electric car charging stations. Purchase clean vehicles for the Boca fleet. Work with local businesses to incentivize their staff to drive green vehicles, take public transportation, bike to work, or carpool.
    Sustainability can be fun, creative, and a financial win for everyone if we work together on these important issues to protect our city and all residents.

  6. I am always stunned by those who disregard science.
    The science is in – it is not an alternative fact!!

    Boca Raton must sign this pledge –

  7. I respect diverse opinions. Attacking Mayor Haynie with whom I have had my own disagreements with–is patently absurd. Repeating the mainstream media line on global warming is also absurd. Go to your browsers and look up people going to garbage dumps in India burning garbage for scrap metal–100 thousand of them a day–your electric car is not fixing that. Also note that one major volcanic eruption has created more CO2 discharge than mankind has in its history. While I am disturbed that the seawall in Por-la-Mar was built about 1′ too short, residents should be concerned about FEMA regulations and being allowed to build homes above grade. Hardening our infrastructure is the key.

  8. Publisher’s Comment: Please refer back to the December 12th, 2016 BocaWatch issue featuring the advanced efforts currently in effect at the Broken Sound facilities in the Boca Raton’s northwest sector. The article, ‘Broken Sound, a Trailblazer in Sustainability’, demonstrates responsible business decision making resulting in substantial economic benefit. Our elected leaders ought to look to this micro example of sustainability for implementation of similar ideas at the macro level.
    Truly a ‘World Class’ effort…..Al Zucaro

  9. While Mayor Haynie and I had little in common regarding our city’s remake, this is one issue that I have to commend Mayor Haynie for. Thank you for not buying into this global warming political hoax. Other than many scientists who are fearful of losing their pet project funding, and possibility their positions, this is far from a scientific fact., but rather a political movement.
    Those of my friends with technical backgrounds laugh at this, and as a former emission control engineer for one of the major US auto manufacturers, we spent millions of dollars to reduce HC, CO, & NOx while converting them to CO2 ! The human input of CO2 is minuscule to the overall amounts present in the atmosphere. In addition, if we were successful in removing the CO2, we would be destroying what sustains our planet’s vegetation and hence adversely affect the lives of many people for lack of food.
    If that isn’t enough, imagine what the cost of food will be.

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