In an important new book about the climate challenges faced by U.S. cities, Alice Hill, senior fellow for climate change policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, the global director, Sustainable Finance Center of the World Resources Institute, lay out the issues that will define our lives and public policy for the next century. We talk with Alice Hill about Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption.
Hill explains how Norfolk, Virginia, the home of the largest naval port in the U.S., is an early example of a city confronting rising seas and sinking land, increased salinity in drinking water, and extreme weather. It can serve as an example for the entire country. The city’s conservative government has worked aggressively to prepare for climate warming after seeing sea levels rise by 18 inches over the past several decades. As “climate attribution” science improves, the facts of global warming became undisputable. Pragmatic action replaced skepticism.
We also discuss how communities and citizens can motivate local and national action. Hill describes a new reality in which the consequences of CO2 are widely understood and consumers with transparent access to information will have better choices available. It will also bring a wave of liability lawsuits that redefine responsibility for CO2 emissions. Why? Because entire populations may be on the move due to sea water inundating coastal cities. But we can prevent that by acting now. Hill’s advice to many communities: Lawyer up.
But cities, too, face consequences from their zoning and regulatory decisions. Are cities liable for changes in flood and fire management rules put in place for companies or investors in their communities? These issues will be decided by living generations. Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption is a must-read guide for policymakers and citizens who recognize that climate disruption is redefining our lives every day.