The effects of climate change have escalated so significantly that floods and increasing environmental concerns are now being referred to as climate catastrophes.
What were once called 500-year storms are occurring every few years. Record heat is causing a growing number of deadly wildfires and the intensity of storms regularly drops record rainfall resulting in massive flooding. Climate change is creating a new normal and government officials throughout the U.S. are trying to deal with weather-related events while exploring ways to limit, prevent or prepare for them.
Mitigating the effects of climate change requires innovative thinking, visionary leadership and the incorporation of emerging technologies. Because mitigation projects are large and costly, many of these initiatives are the result of collaborative efforts. Private-sector capital and industry expertise are welcomed by government leaders.
Cities are leading the way in efforts to combat climate change. That’s fitting, however, because according to the Global Covenant of Mayors, 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, 70 percent of the CO2 emissions are created in cities and 66 percent of the world’s energy is consumed by cities.
There are only a handful of categories where cities can focus their climate control efforts. Contractors with offerings in these categories are in high demand. Traffic congestion and the ever-growing carbon footprint is a major target for city leaders. Public transportation is being expanded and electric vehicles (EVs) are replacing gas-powered fleets. The City of New York already has 1,750 EVs and will add another 2,100 this summer. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority serving the city has committed to purchase 60 electric buses and hundreds of charging stations will be constructed.
Washington, D.C., released its “Resilience D.C.” strategy in April. The plan calls for retrofitting or removing all flood-prone buildings to make them safer during weather events. Louisiana’s offshore oil revenues contribute more than $95 million into state coffers and more than $75 million is being used for protection and restoration projects. Between 2020 and 2022, funds will be allocated for the design and construction of the Bayou Chene flood control and storm surge gate. Another $10 million will be used for levee repair work in Grand Isle and $11 million is designated for levees and flood protection in the Rosethorne basin area. Another $9 million is available for design of a hurricane surge ring levee for Slidell.
The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe in Tokeland, Washington, will combine a $2.2 million federal pre-disaster mitigation grant with other funds for construction of only the second tsunami evacuation structure in the U.S. Bids are likely to be sought for construction by the end of September, with a completion date expected in October 2020. Other upcoming opportunities include the following:
- The Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York will install rooftop solar panels at dozens of its facilities. The agency wants to lease more than 10 million square feet of rooftops to companies that will install the solar panels. Negotiations with interested parties are expected to begin in September.
- Two Wisconsin cities received more than $6 million in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce to help mitigate repeated episodes of flooding. The City of Viroqua plans to spend $2.6 million to update water infrastructure that protects local businesses from flooding. The City of Arcadia received $4.3 million and will use the funds to improve storm water management infrastructure in its commercial areas.
- Officials in Niagara County, New York, plan to use a grant from the Federal Emergency Assistance Fund to restore shoreline areas of Krull Park that were lost during floods two years ago. The county plans to spend $1.89 million to improve the shoreline’s resiliency to future extreme weather incidents.
- Maryland’s Howard County recently received $3.4 million in state funds to use for flood mitigation projects to restore and rebuild areas along Main Street in Ellicott City that were ravaged twice by floods. The city hopes to apply for an additional $8 million over three years for statewide flood mitigation efforts.
- New York has a $1.4 billion commitment to new clean energy projects. This is the largest single commitment to renewable energy by a state in U.S. history and it will include 22 solar farms, three wind farms and one hydroelectric project. The projects are expected to be completed by 2022.
Very few regions of the U.S. are untouched by the effects of climate change. Private-sector firms with the expertise to offer relief and assistance are in high demand.