Climate change in South Florida was back in the national spolight this past week when U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) chose the City of West Palm Beach as the location in which to host the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s field hearing on extreme weather and coastal flooding. Senator Nelson tapped Mayor Jeri Muoio as a panelist along with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick. Citing coastal flooding, sea level rise, and weather extremes, Nelson referred to West Palm Beach and South Florida as “Ground Zero” for climate change impacts.The hearing featured testimony from South Florida experts.
Also, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the National League of Cities (NLC) and STAR Communities, hosted the “Sustainable West Palm Beach Workshop” which was attended by more than 60 community leaders. Participants were led through a series of engaging, hands-on exercises to identify and prioritize high impact actions for the City to take in order to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and the well-being of the people living and working in the community. Previously, STAR recognized West Palm Beach as a 4-STAR Certified Community. West Palm Beach is the only city in Florida to earn such a distinction.
Senator Nelson, NLC and STAR recognize that the City of West Palm Beach is committed to doing its part to promote resilience in the City. Here is a just a small sample of the actions Mayor Muoio and the Office of Sustainability have taken:
- Mayor Muoio established a long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050 for the City and a short term target of 25-percent reduction.
- The City is finalizing its Stormwater Master Plan to incorporate climate change impacts and opportunities for green infrastructure. (The Stormwater Master Plan assesses the City’s hydrologic characteristics, topography, drainage, floodplains, water quality, pollution sources, and land cover.)
- West Palm Beach committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy– the world’s largest cooperative effort among mayors and city officials– to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track programs, and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
- The City is using the STAR framework for its Strategic Plan (2016-2020) to improve resilience across in the seven STAR goal areas of: built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; equity and empowerment; health and safety; and natural systems.
- We have adopted green building requirements for City buildings and are in the process of transitioning City vehicles to alternative fuels as part of the Energy Secure Cities Coalition.
- The City of West Palm Beach was also selected by NLC to participate in the Leadership in Community Resilience Program which brings together 10-cities to help local governments and community partners to advance resilience efforts.
- The City is the municipal representative for Palm Beach County for the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact.
Washington must do its part to implement policies that address climate change. Here at home, we still have a lot of work to do too, and with your help and support, we will get there.
You can get involved by contacting the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability at 561-804-4994 or visiting the web at www.wpb.org/Departments/Sustainability/Overview
Mayor Muoio Serves On U.S. Senate Climate Change Panel
West Palm Beach Takes Action on Climate Change. Mayor Muoio established a long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050.