Climate adaptation plan for Columbus, OH includes improved grid resiliency, efficiency
- A task force led by researchers at Ohio State University has submitted the Columbus Climate Adaptation Plan (CCAP) to city leaders. The primary goal of the document is not to mitigate climate change, but rather to prepare the city and its residents for the projected effects of climate change and inform them of adaptations that should be made.
- The document contains 43 action items in eight main areas including extreme heat, water use and air quality and energy. The action items are divided into two categories: necessary and aspirational, with necessary actions "being the bare minimum the city should take," Jason Cervenec, education and outreach director at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University, told Smart Cities Dive.
- Some necessary actions include modernizing the electric grid for greater resilience and efficiency and devising an emergency plan that can be enacted during a flood to ensure transportation and logistics for critical resources.
The CCAP was commissioned to serve as a guiding document for Columbus' leaders. "They'll take it from here and decide what resources to invest, what staffing to invest [and] what timeline to use," Cervenec said. "It's now in that public arena for the city council and mayor's office to decide how to enact it and what time frame they want to use."
The CCAP idea first arose about four years ago when the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and The Columbus Foundation commissioned research about Columbus' risks and vulnerabilities due to climate change, Cervenec said. After that was finished, the Ohio State research team was asked to research what actions the city should take to increase its climate resilience. That was also funded by the NRDC and "was a collaboration of the university, the city and MORPC (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission)," Cervenec said.
Although the document is intended to guide policymakers in boosting the city's resilience, "one of the goals in writing it was that it was accessible and readable by the general public," Cervenec said. The public does play a role in adapting to climate change and a number of action items call for public education programs, such as for reducing vehicle idling, promoting green infrastructure, spending time outdoors in extreme heat and advocating for the proper use of tap water in an emergency.
Besides action from the public and the city, other players will need to participate. "There's a number of things here, collaborative ventures, that are going to have to happen between nonprofits, state entities, government organizations [and] businesses," Cervenec said.
The CCAP also calls for technology upgrades and greater data collection and use to increase resilience. For example, using data to anticipate and respond to harmful algal blooms as well as adapting modes of transportation, developing an app for environmental hazard alerts and using GIS to map vulnerable populations susceptible to environmental hazards.
The latter recommendation is among the several that address not only climate adaptability but also equity. Another is the recommendation to establish programs to distribute fans, air conditioners and water to vulnerable populations. It will be up to Columbus' leaders to figure out if they want to move forward with the action items and how to implement them to increase resilience throughout the city in an equitable manner.
- Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University Columbus Climate Adaptation Plan
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