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Mayor Gray Joins 44 Mayors and County Leaders in Pledging to Create More Resilient Cities

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mayor Gray Joins 44 Mayors and County Leaders in Pledging to Create More Resilient Cities

National Campaign Highlights DC’s Leadership in Responding to Environmental Challenges

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Mayor Vincent C. Gray today joined 44 other mayors and county officials from around the country in committing to build more resilient cities and prepare their communities for the nation’s growing extreme weather and energy challenges. Mayor Gray is an Inaugural Signatory of the Resilient Communities for America campaign, which is supported by the National League of Cities, the US Green Building Council, the World Wildlife Fund and ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability USA.

The national campaign recognizes that local governments, like the District, are on the front lines of responding to disasters fueled by a changing climate. An unprecedented number of climate-related disasters – including heat waves, droughts, floods, severe storms and wildfires – have devastated communities nationwide over the past two years and cost America $188 billion in damages.

“We cannot avoid or ignore the evidence of the increased risk a changing climate poses to the safety of our residents or the health of our economy,” Mayor Gray stated. “We are committed — across government and the private sector — to act so that we can ensure that our city is prepared for these coming challenges. As local government leaders, it is up to us to lead the way, and I call on my counterparts in local governments across the nation to join this effort.”

The Resilient Communities for America campaign will champion the work of Mayor Gray and other local elected officials at the forefront of the emerging national movement to build resilience. Local governments can take a wide range of actions to prepare and protect residents, businesses, infrastructure, and natural resources, and allow communities to bounce back faster from disruptions and disasters. Every $1 spent on disaster risk reduction can save $4 in recovery and emergency costs — making resilience efforts a sound investment.

The District is already feeling impacts of a changing climate, including higher temperatures, rising tides, and more intense, frequent storms. In 2012 the District experienced one of the worst heat waves on record and several major storms, including a derecho that cost local government and businesses millions of dollars and left thousands of residents without power. The District also narrowly avoided Hurricane Sandy – a storm that, had it made a direct hit on the area, could have created storm surges of more than 20 feet up the Potomac River. Violent storms, excessive heat and devastating tropical events all threaten public health and the normal functioning of the city.

In response to these challenges, the Gray Administration has already taken action to increase the city’s resilience:

  • Through the Sustainable DC initiative, the District Department of the Environment will compile the best available information on projected climate risks and, with partners from across government and the community, develop a plan to protect infrastructure and community health.
  • The District is also focusing on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing climate change. Citywide, the District reduced emissions of greenhouse gases by 12 percent from 2006 to 2011 and is pursuing numerous energy-efficiency, renewable-energy and alternative-transportation initiatives to meet the Sustainable DC goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2032,
  • Mayor Gray also recently announced legislation to further reduce emissions and improve local air quality by banning the burning of coal.

Along with Resilient Communities for America campaign chairman Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Gray and fellow Inaugural Signatories have committed:

  • To urge state and federal leaders to support local resilience initiatives and to take meaningful steps to build resilience and security throughout the nation.
  • To build community resilience through their own self-defined local actions and goals, and to emphasize actions that address climate change, energy security, infrastructure renewal, and economic recovery.
  • To share their solutions and success stories with other local governments to help accelerate their progress on resilience.

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.resilience4america.org. To learn more about Sustainable DC, visit www.sustainabledc.org.