Councilors LaMattina and Wu Head to Netherlands, Denmark for GRC Climate Conference

By John Lynds

City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Council President Michelle Wu traveled this week to the Netherlands and Denmark to attend a conference sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission (GRC) to examine climate change and how to prepare for sea level rise.

The GRC, a group made up of leaders of Boston’s largest property-owning businesses, educational institutions, and hospitals, as well as top representatives from the three major utilities, was formed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, even as the city grows.   Other members come from the construction, finance, consulting, and hospitality industries, as well as the faith community and key non-profit organizations.

LaMattina and Wu will meet with experts in Europe to learn about cutting edge European practices for achieving carbon neutrality, resiliency and long-term climate preparedness. The participants will meet with local civic and business leaders and tour climate infrastructure innovations.

While there, the Councilors will also be looking at European transportation infrastructure and planning, as well as open space and trash/recycling collection.

“I am excited about this conference and hope to gain some knowledge on how to tackle these issues in our city as we continue to grow and prepare for climate change and rising sea levels,” said LaMattina. “I also hope to examine alternate modes of transportation, including water, as well as how to maintain cleanliness and upkeep in our parks and streets”.

The GRC provides a forum for representatives of the private sector and the City to discuss, plan and act on the opportunities, challenges, ideas, and requirements of preparing Boston to meet the imperatives of climate change.

Boston is an old city that sits at sea level.  Over the centuries, neighborhoods were built on top of low-lying areas.   Rising sea levels, storm surge, flooding, intense precipitation, higher temperatures, and stronger winds are some of the anticipated physical threats to Boston between now and 2100.  Beyond the obvious danger to Bostonians, these impacts represent huge financial risk. In economic terms, Boston is the fourth most vulnerable city in the United States, and the eighth most vulnerable in the world, according to the World Bank.  With the highest tides and storms of 2015 topping sea walls, some of these effects are already tangible.

The GRC’s three main goals is to advise the city on the implementation of its Climate Action Plan. The group also engages sector leadership in aligning their assets and initiatives to support the plan outcomes. The group also aims to be a leader by practicing and promoting best practice examples within and across sectors that advance the Climate Action Plan goals.

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