Resilient Cambridge Plan Introduction

Climate Change is caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane that accumulate in the atmosphere.  The City has a number of initiatives to reduce Cambridge's contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gases through energy efficiency projects in buildings, renewable energy (e.g., solar), reduced reliance on automobiles, and other measures.  Unfortunately, scientists tell us that greenhouse gases have built up in the atmosphere to the point that some degree of climate change is unavoidable.  And we are starting to see climate disruptions that back up that view.  As a result, it is clear that steps need to be taken to make communities more resilient and adaptable to climate change impacts while continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst effects.

A citywide climate change preparedness and resilience plan, called Resilient Cambridge, has been developed by the City with engagement from residents, institutions, businesses and other stakeholders.  The Resilient Cambridge Plan is based on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and two neighborhood plans developed for the Alewife area and The Port.  The Vulnerability Assessment considered what would happen to Cambridge physically and socially if we experience more heat and flooding and take no action -- a "climate stress test"  -- looking out to the years 2030 and 2070.  This created the baseline for action. The plan focuses on the growing risks from increasing temperatures, increasing rainfall, and rising sea levels using the best available science.  The strategies are organized under four categories:  Closer Neighborhoods, Better Buildings, Stronger Infrastructure, and Greener City. 

The Resilient Cambridge Plan consists of the main plan, six technical appendices with analysis to support the plan, and a handbook that details 34 strategies.  To make the information in the plan more accessible, a summary report titled Resilient City Resilient People is provided along with four StoryMaps that explain how heat and flooding affect the city and how the plan's strategies work.  The Cambridge FloodViewer was developed to allow property owners and others to find out the flood risks and elevations at the parcel level.  A similar viewer for parcel level information relating to reducing urban heat islands is being developed.  To help residents, businesses, and organizations take action to make themselves more resilient, Climate Resilience Toolkits provide guidance on how to prepare in short term for emergencies and what longer term actions can make people and buildings more resilient.  All this information can be found on the Resilient Cambridge webpage.

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