Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia

Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia

(reposted from Philadelphia government website)

Shifts in weather patterns and increasingly frequent extreme storms are challenging communities around the world, including Philadelphia, and inspiring many cities to begin the important work of understanding how climate change will impact municipal assets and operations. The City of Philadelphia is responsible for a broad swath of activities including protecting public safety; enforcing zoning and building standards; supporting improvements in public health; guiding physical and economic development; constructing and maintaining bridges and streets; collecting trash and recycling from more than half-a-million households; and operating two airports, one of the largest urban park systems in the world, and an integrated water, wastewater, and stormwater utility.

To continue providing these services to our 1.5 million residents, nearly 35,000 businesses, and approximately 250,000 workers who commute into the city, the City of Philadelphia needs to understand and prepare for the specific changes in climate coming to our corner of the world. We recognized our climate adaptation efforts would be most successful with the participation of departments and agencies that will need to adjust to the coming warmer and wetter weather. In 2012, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) convened the Climate Adaptation Working Group (CAWG), a group of 10 agencies and departments committed to guiding the city’s work to prepare for climate change. Together we commissioned Useful Climate Information for Philadelphia: Past and Future to understand what we need to prepare for. The CAWG and MOS then used the report to help city departments understand climate projections and how they can include the information in their decision-making processes.

While we acknowledge that climate change will influence Philadelphia citywide, we decided to focus Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia on beginning to assess vulnerabilities and preparation opportunities for municipal government, and identifying relatively low-barrier and high-impact internal actions we can take while we begin to grapple with larger questions such as how to assess and minimize risks to environmental health, neighborhood investments, and quality of life. We are confident that this first phase of work will help reduce risk, decrease stressors on city infrastructure and services, and guide proactive projects with benefits extending far beyond municipal operations. Climate adaptation planning will need to be a continuous process, and we are committed to moving the recommendations in this report forward while also expanding the focus beyond government to ensure that Philadelphia continues to be an attractive place to live, work, and play, whatever the weather may bring.

To download and read the full PDF document, click here.