State Offers Communities Funding for Climate Change Action
Throughout Massachusetts, as the effects of climate change are felt, temperatures are climbing, precipitation is becoming more intense, sea level is rising and extreme weather is becoming more frequent.
“While a changing climate knows no geographical boundaries, cities and towns across Massachusetts are on the front lines of climate change,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, in announcing The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program which offers funding to municipalities that assess their vulnerability to, and prepare for climate change impacts and build community resilience.
The data frames the climate change argument in stark terms. The average temperature in the state has increased 2.8 degrees since 1895, average sea level has risen 10 inches since 1922 and strong storms have increased 71 percent since 1958.
Many communities in Essex County are already participating in the program aimed to protect future generations, including Gloucester, Marblehead, Newburyport, and Salem. Each is expected to identify opportunities to reduce risk and build resilience, and then act.
Incorporating nature-based solutions in local planning, zoning and regulations often pays for itself as communities reduce risks, resulting in reduced costs, economic enhancement and safer, more resilient communities.
Conservation projects can return $4 for every dollar spent, according to the Trust for Public Lands.
While the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority spent $130 million to acquire 22,000 acres of watershed lands, it saved ratepayers $250 million on a filtration plant and $4 million per year in operating costs.
On a local level, action can help communities enhance safety by reducing risks from ocean and inland flooding and heat risks to vulnerable populations, as well as avoiding the infrastructure costs of unplanned repairs.
It’s a view shared at Greenbelt, where land conservation projects are now prioritized by strategically identifying conservation projects best suited for their resiliency to climate change.