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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate Appendix A Climate Change and the New York Metropolitan Region The New York metropolitan region has a population of more than 21 million people, spans three states (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), and consists of more than 1,000 municipalities. New York City, its core, is the most populous city in the United States, with 8.2 million people and an operating budget of about $60.2 billion. A million more residents are projected by 2030 (see http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/home/home.shtml [accessed December 2008]). The region has been grappling with the risks posed by climate change actively for at least a decade and is now a leader in responding to climate change both nationally and internationally. This appendix first focuses on the processes that led to the region’s efforts to respond to climate change and how the region’s experiences exemplify many of the key points about decision support in the report. Those points include the multiplicity of climate-related decisions faced by the region (Chapter 1), characterization of effective decision support processes (e.g., what works and what does not work) (Chapter 2), identification of information needs for both climate and nonclimate information (Chapter 4), and ongoing learning by decision support systems (Chapter 3). The appendix then describes three phases of active involvement with climate change: The Metropolitan East Coast Regional Assessment of Climate Variability and Change (MEC) released in 2002; the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Climate Change Task Force, which operated from 2004 to 2006; and PlaNYC, the sustainability plan formulated by Mayor Bloomberg and the Office of Long-Term Planning
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate and Sustainability in 2006 (see http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/home/home.shtml [accessed February 2009]). THE NEW YORK REGION’S EXPERIENCE A Multiplicity of Climate-Related Decisions The climate change decision landscape of the New York Metropolitan Region has many dimensions and is inhabited by many decision makers. The first decisions directly related to reducing climate change involved setting an ambitious goal for mitigation, which is set in the city’s plan, PlaNYC, as a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels, and then the implementation of actions to accomplish that goal. One of the first actions was an announcement by Mayor Bloomberg of a long-term plan to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s municipal buildings and operations by 30 percent much earlier—by 2017. This reduction would cut the city’s annual output of greenhouse gases by nearly 1.7 million metric tons and reduce peak demand for electricity by 220 megawatts (see http://www.nyc.gov/news [accessed July 2008]). Accomplishing the goal will take literally thousands of individual decisions in order to upgrade existing municipal buildings, including firehouses, police precincts, sanitation garages, offices, and courthouses. Such decisions include determining choices of energy-efficient facility lighting; refrigeration units; boilers; office equipment; and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems. In addition to purchasing decisions, the city is focusing on ways to operate buildings more efficiently, especially through developing and implementing preventive practices in buildings that consume large amounts of energy. For example, leaking pipes, clogged steam traps, and inefficient air distribution, pumps, and fan systems will need to be systematically identified and repaired. As a coastal megacity, New York City also faces complex decision challenges on climate change adaptation. The decision environment consists of intertwined jurisdictions of city, state, two-state, and federal agencies. For example, for adapting regional transportation to potentially more damaging coastal floods, New York State has several corporate public authorities to further public interests, including the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Complications in decision making and funding arise since New York State, New York City, and surrounding counties all share in the governance of these bodies. This complex decision landscape, the multiplicity of decision makers, and the evolving nature of climate change together create a complicated and evolving set of information needs for New York City and the region. The processes that have emerged combine analysis, deliberation, and ongoing
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate revisiting of choices to inform mitigation and adaptation policies as they are implemented. Some decisions need to be made immediately, while others are set on the horizon as decision-making frameworks are devised, climate indicators tracked, and technologies and policies tested. What Worked and What Did Not The New York Metropolitan Region can be considered a test of decision support processes for climate change since it has been addressing the issue in a variety of ways for about a decade. Such processes appeared to be more effective when there was active and open engagement among regional decision makers and climate change experts from a range of disciplines, including physical, biological, and social science. Creating an environment of mutual learning, respect, courtesy, and trust was also important to effective outcomes, with balanced contributions from both the decision makers and the experts. For the most part, these interactions were then able to guide the production of decision support products that were salient, credible, and legitimate. For example, the MEC explicitly created a partnership with representatives from institutions responsible for managing key sectors and services (see below). The stakeholders from the transportation, water, health, and energy sectors (among others) and climate change expert partners collaborated on developing assessment questions, provided ongoing feedback throughout the entire process, reviewed products, and helped to shape key conclusions and messages arising from the assessment. Of course, differences among stakeholders coming from the public sector and experts from research institutions did arise, sometimes as a result of differing constraints in terms of providing open access to data. Another challenge for the process was that social and political processes beyond the influence of those directly involved sometimes determined whether and how the information was used effectively. At the community level, community involvement was and is a key aspect of the decision environment in New York City, since there are numerous activist groups focused on environmental justice and urban ecology. For PlaNYC, in which responding to climate change plays a central role, the community was involved in the creation of PlaNYC through website interactions and through town hall, neighborhood, and advocacy organization meetings. However, these early interactions were limited by time and opportunity. The ongoing engagement of communities with climate change adaptation is a specific focus on PlaNYC, with a neighborhood-based education effort planned for 40 communities. Finally, a key element to successful “mainstreaming” of climate change in the region could be termed buy-in from the top. For example, the ground-
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate breaking work on climate change in relation to the New York City water system was actively initiated and then supported by two commissioners with great foresight and courage (see below). Just as those responsible for creating the upstate water system for the city in the 1840s had a planning horizon of 100 years, these present-day commissioners took on the challenges that climate change poses to the city’s water system in the coming century. The engaged leadership of the mayor for PlaNYC has been essential to the attaining goals in terms of both mitigation and adaptation. Information Needs Among the information needs for climate change decision making in the New York Metropolitan Region is an understanding of current and future climate risks. This understanding has been found to be a critical prerequisite for the assessment of effective and efficient adaptation and mitigation strategies and policies in this complex urban area. A risk-based framework has been devised that combines physical science, geographical, and socioeconomic components (climate indicators, global climate change scenarios, downscaled regional scenarios, change anticipated in extreme events, qualitative assessment of high-impact and low-probability events, associated vulnerabilities, and the gap between existing responses and the flexible adaptation pathways needed) that can be used by the hundreds of municipalities in the region to create and carry out climate change action plans (Rosenzweig et al., 2007). Attention has been paid to articulating the differential effects on poor and nonpoor urban residents, as well as on drawing practical lessons from successful policies and programs at the city level. The climate risk framework used in the region is composed of a set of quantitative and qualitative indicators, used as inputs to climate change action planning; see Box A-1. The indicators are used to track current climate trends and variability so as to enable comparisons with historical data and future scenarios. Recent simulations of global climate models are used as the basis of regionalized urban climate change projections, with statistical downscaling and regional climate models to make higher-resolution (both temporal and spatial) nested scenarios. Since many climate change effects are experienced in urban areas in relation to extreme events, specific analyses are presented of how probabilities of such events may change in the future. An especially challenging part is the presentation of information regarding low-probability but high-impact changes in the climate system, such as dramatic reductions in continental ice, leading to sea-level rise, and its effect on the region. These indicators are used to conduct assessments of the key vulnerabilities of the region, especially of the urban poor, and to devise climate protection levels and flexible adaptation pathways.
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate BOX A-1 Climate-Risk Framework Used in New York Metropolitan Region Current Climate Current climate trends, indicators, and variability Global Climate Models and Emissions Scenarios (Update ~5 years) Global climate models characterize climate uncertainty (International Panel on Climate Change, 2007a, 2007b) Greenhouse gas emissions scenarios span a range of development futures—population, gross domestic product, technology Regional Climate Scenarios for Key Variables Downscaled model-based probabilities for New York City characterize risks Regional climate model simulations Extreme Events Frequency and intensity of heat waves, flooding, droughts, and hurricanes and other storms High Impact Scenarios Ice sheet melting and Greenland/Arctic Sea ice extent are monitored and evaluated Monitor and Reassess Presentations on climate change in the New York Metropolitan Region often end with the words, “monitor and reassess!” Decision support in the region, now beginning its second decade, is a diverse, dynamic process that is continuously adapting. Not only is the climate system itself changing (as is scientific understanding of those changes), but the decision environment is also constantly changing. These evolving circumstances highlight the importance of following good decision-making process, since mitigation and adaptation decisions made one decade surely require monitoring, evaluation, and very likely revision in the next. One means of monitoring and reassessing climate change in the region (and beyond) is a loose “knowledge network” of experts who have worked on a broad spectrum of climate change research. Periodically, those experts get together for wide-ranging discussions on evolving understanding of key issues and innovative approaches for decision support tools. Such meetings
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate of the knowledge network support the collection and sharing of knowledge from the experience of developing decision support and function as clearinghouses of information on these experiences. THREE MAJOR INITIATIVES The following sections of the Appendix describe three major climate change initiatives undertaken in the New York Metropolitan Region, beginning in 1998. Metropolitan East Coast Regional Assessment MEC laid the foundation for engagement with climate change in the New York Metropolitan Region (Rosenzweig and Solecki, 2001). As one of the regional components of the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, MEC investigated potential risks of climate variability and change, identified key vulnerabilities to the stresses that climate change is likely to introduce, and examined feasible adaptation strategies. It also drew attention to the need to mitigate atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in order to reduce long-term risks. The process of the MEC strongly linked researchers and stakeholders and consisted of four major activities: workshops, stakeholder involvement, sector assessments, and integration. For example, the Metro East Coast Climate Impacts Assessment Workshop, in March 1998, brought regional stakeholders, government representatives, scholars, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the general public together to explore the creation of an integrated regional assessment of climate impacts. This workshop served to develop a network of stakeholders, to initiate the assessment of vulnerabilities and opportunities posed by climate change, and to recommend future steps to develop partnerships among stakeholders, researchers, and the federal government regarding climate variability and change. The MEC assessment focused primarily on stakeholder institutions, whose activities are and will be affected by climate variability and change and thus have a stake in being involved in research of potential climate adaptations. From its inception, MEC created a partnership with representatives from institutions with responsibility for managing key sectors and services. The stakeholder partners collaborated on developing assessment questions, provided ongoing feedback throughout the entire process, reviewed products, and helped to shape key conclusions and messages arising from the assessment. The assessment examined climate variability and change impacts and adaptations related to six sectors: coasts, wetlands, infrastructure, water,
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate health, and energy. A seventh sector—decision—analyzed decision making across all the other sectors. The sector teams, composed of researchers from local universities and stakeholder partners from relevant agencies, focused on identifying vulnerabilities, adaptation strategies, policy recommendations, and gaps in knowledge. The sector studies addressed climate impacts and adaptation through analyses of historical climate trends, case studies of responses to extreme climatic events in the region, and scenario projections. The assessment examined how three interacting elements of large cities react and respond to climate variability and change: people (i.e., sociodemographic factors), place (i.e., physical and ecological systems), and pulse (i.e., decision-making and economic activities). This focus on integration helped to avoid the common isolation of sector analyses and was instrumental in elucidating one of the major conclusions of the assessment: that key urban effects of climate variability and change are likely to occur simultaneously at the intersection of sectors. For example, heat stress in the poor and elderly (a concern of the public health sector) will probably increase during energy blackouts (the responsibility of the energy sector). The MEC assessment found that effects will be dynamic and that their intersections will change over time. New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) Climate Change Task Force Following the federally led MEC, work on climate change proceeded in the region in individual agencies. For example, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has responsibility for the New York City water system, which supplies water for 9 million people. The MEC study found that it is a mature infrastructure system, that its managers are skilled at dealing with existing hydrologic variability, and that there are many potential adaptations to the possible effects of climate change in the city’s water supply, sewer, and wastewater treatment systems. In 2004, the NYCDEP created a Climate Change Task Force, with the mission to “ensure that all aspects of Departmental planning: (1) take into account the potential risks of climate change on the City’s water supply, drainage, and wastewater management systems, and (2) integrated GHG emissions management to the greatest extent possible” (New York City Department of Environmental Protection, 2008). Noteworthy in this mission statement is the inclusion of both adaptation and mitigation climate change response goals for the department. The work of the NYCDEP Climate Change Task Force focused primarily on the water supply, sewer, and wastewater treatment systems, but the approach would have wide application for other urban areas, especially
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate those in coastal locations, as well as for other coastal and upland infrastructure. Since many climate change adaptations identified help to increase the robustness of current systems, the task force had immediate benefits by improving responses to present-day climate variability. Task Force Process The task force included representatives from all of the operating and planning bureaus in NYCDEP, along with experts from Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research and other universities and engineering firms. A key element of the process was that it was agency wide, allowing the development of an integrated climate change program throughout the entire organization. An agencywide approach provides organizational benefits even beyond climate change planning in fostering communication among bureaus within the agency. From October 2004 to December 2005, the task force held a series of monthly meetings, each focused on particular elements of its work, provided advice to senior agency planners on climate change, held climate change workshops for agency personnel, and engaged in outreach to other city and regional agencies to build links for work on projects and programs of mutual and interrelated interest, with the ultimate aim of building a regional climate change program. The work of the task force included science, adaptation, mitigation, outreach, and coordination. As part of the task force activities, the climate scientists developed climate information and adaptation assessment frameworks in conjunction with agency and private-sector partners. The climate information framework consists of current and historical climate observations, downscaled climate change scenarios from global and regional climate models, projections of changes in the risks of extreme events (including hurricanes, northeastern storms, heat waves, droughts, and floods), and focused analyses of sea-level rise and storm surges, including recent ice-sheet melting. The scientists also helped to coordinate climate impact projects to yield maximum benefits from research. The adaptation assessment framework set out six goals: gain understanding of current climate risks, anticipate future climate change risks, determine climate protection levels, evaluate flexible adaptation pathways, utilize insurance and policy strategies, and monitor and reassess.
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate The sixth step is important in order to provide mechanisms for updating climate observations and scenarios over time and to track the dynamics of a changing climate. Task Force Products The major product task force is a Climate Change Assessment and action plan for the agency (New York City Department of Environmental Protection, 2008). The action plan consists of five tasks: Task 1: Work with climate scientists to improve regional climate change projections. Task 2: Enhance DEP’s understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on the Department’s operations. Task 3: Determine and implement appropriate adaptation to DEP’s water systems. Task 4: Inventory and manage greenhouse gas emissions. Task 5: Improve communication and tracing mechanisms. The main conclusions of the NYCDEP task force are that climate change will have wide-ranging, pervasive impacts on the city’s water supply, sewer, and wastewater treatment systems and that managing the climate change risks is an important element in the department’s efforts to fulfill its operating, investment, and fiduciary obligations. PlaNYC In September 2006 Mayor Michael Bloomberg created the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, with the goal of developing a sustainability plan for the city. Building on the ongoing work of the NYCDEP Task Force on Climate Change, the city administration decided that responding to climate change would play a prominent role in that plan, now known as PlaNYC (see http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/home/home.shtml). A Sustainability Advisory Board was formed, comprised of leading citizens with relevant backgrounds to guide the effort by identifying the major issues affecting the city’s future. Working groups were also created comprised of a broader group of experts in key areas, including urban design, green buildings, climate change, and transportation. Mayor Bloomberg presented the goals of the sustainability program, PlaNYC 2030, in December 2006 and the actual plan in April 2007. The plan includes specific goals in five areas: land, water, air, energy,
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate and transportation—with an overarching climate change goal to reduce global warming emissions by more than 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (see Table A-1). Over 100 proposed actions are associated with the goals, including ways to reduce New York City’s contribution to greenhouse emissions on the changing climate and also how to adapt to the projected climate changes in the city in the next two decades and beyond. Decision Environment The plan includes a detailed structure for implementation, including the identification of lead agencies and budget allocations. The oversight of each initiative is assigned to a lead agency. These lead agencies range from city agencies, such as the Department of Parks and Recreation, to joint TABLE A-1 Six Focus Areas and Ten Goals of PlaNYC 2030 Area Goal Land Housing Create homes for almost a million more New Yorkers, while making housing more affordable and sustainable. Open space Ensure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Brownfields Clean up all contaminated land in New York City. Water Water quality Open 90% of waterways for recreation by reducing water pollution and preserving our natural areas. Water network Develop critical backup systems for our aging water network to ensure long-term reliability. Air Air quality Achieve the cleanest air of any big city in America. Energy Energy Provide cleaner, more reliable power for every New Yorker by upgrading our energy infrastructure. Transportation Congestion Improve travel times by adding transit capacity for millions more residents. State of good repair Reach a full “state of good repair” on New York City’s roads, subways, and rails for the first time in history. Climate Change Climate change Reduce global warming emissions by more than 30%. SOURCE: PlaNYC (2009).
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate agencies, such as the MTA. Responsibilities that must be taken outside city jurisdiction are also identified. Additionally, the plan sets future milestones by the years 2009 and 2015, such as “plant 15,000 street trees per year,” and project budget allocations are made. Required New York City investments in both capital and operating budgets are identified, as well as other funding sources. However, funding the PlaNYC initiatives has proved challenging, since a significant portion of the New York City budget comes from the state, and state support is necessary for major new initiatives such as congestion pricing to control motor vehicle travel in parts of the city. Climate Change Agenda In April 2008 the mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability issued a “report card” indicating the status of the many PlaNYC initiatives (see http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/downloads/pdf/progress_2008_climate_change.pdf [accessed December 2008]). In regard to climate change mitigation, the report card identified significant progress in transit-oriented rezoning, fuel-efficient taxis, tree planting, reflective roofing requirements in new building codes, and rules allowing fuel-efficient microturbine generators that directly reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Transport of solid waste out of the city was switched from truck to barge and rail in Staten Island and the Bronx, and similar arrangements are being negotiated for the other boroughs. On the legislative side, the city council passed in November 2007 codified PlaNYC’s goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The law further requires the City to reduce carbon emissions by municipal operations at an even faster rate—reaching a 30 percent reduction by 2017. Plans for implementing further reductions include avoided sprawl, clean power, efficient buildings, and sustainable transportation. In regard to adaptation, three initiatives have been launched: They are an intergovernmental task force to protect vital city infrastructure; the development of site-specific protection strategies with and for vulnerable neighborhoods; and a citywide strategic planning process for climate change adaptation. The intergovernmental task force will work with a technical advisory committee of regional climate experts to develop coordinated climate protection levels for the metropolitan region. At the neighborhood level, two communities have been engaged—Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Broad Channel in Queens. Feedback from these communities will inform a larger program of engagement with 40 particularly vulnerable neighborhoods throughout the city. The goal of the citywide strategic planning process is to update the Federal Emergency Management Administration 100-year floodplain maps.
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate Challenges PlaNYC encompasses a broad-ranging and challenging climate change agenda. Due to the short timeframe (less than 8 months) for development, community groups were not engaged fully in discussing the climate change adaptation aspects of the plan. That is being remedied, at least in part, by the vulnerable community adaptation program now under way. On the mitigation side, a sustainability task force at the Metropolitan Transit Authority is providing a continuing forum for climate change discussions in the region, as is a sustainable buildings series presented by the New York Academy of Sciences. These activities highlight the continuing and important role that local and regional organizations can play in engendering stakeholder involvement in the New York metropolitan region in responding to climate change. REFERENCES New York City Department of Environmental Protection 2008 Report 1: Assessment and Action Plan—A Report Based on the Ongoing Work of the DEP Climate Change Task Force. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection Climate Change Program. New York: New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Available: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/climate/climate_complete.pdf [accessed February 2009]. Rosenzweig, C., and W.D. Solecki, eds. 2001 Climate Change and a Global City: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, Metro East Coast. Report for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the United States. New York: Columbia Earth Institute. Rosenzweig, C., D.C. Major, K. Demong, C. Stanton, R. Horton, and M. Stults 2007 Managing climate change risks in New York City’s water system: Assessment and adaptation planning. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 12:1,391–1,409.