City Unveils Two Major Climate Initiatives on Earth Day

Published on April 22, 2021

Earth Day

Today, as the world marks Earth Day, the City of Miami unveiled two major initiatives focused on securing Miami’s long-term future in the face of a changing climate and rising seas. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced the two milestones – the release of the City’s draft greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) plan and comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan – at a City Hall press conference. The plans reflect the City’s multi-pronged approach to climate resilience, pairing community-wide mitigation and sustainability efforts with green and gray adaptation infrastructure. The two initiatives are being spearheaded by the City’s Department of Resilience & Public Works and Office of Capital Improvements, with major participation from several other City departments.

“Today, we’re proud to unveil one of the most comprehensive series of climate and environmental policies and initiatives ever seen in Florida,” said Mayor Suarez. “With these plans, we’re doubling down on our commitment to protecting the long-term health of our community, natural environment, and economy, recognizing the effects of climate change caused by human activity.”

The City’s newly released greenhouse gas reduction plan, called Miami Forever Carbon Neutral, details the actions the City and other key stakeholders must take to reach net zero carbon emissions citywide by 2050. A copy of the draft plan is now publicly available, so that residents can review the document and provide comment over the next 30 days, either online or one of the monthly virtual Mayor’s Resilience Action Forum meetings. While the draft plan has 2050 as its primary target, the City is focused on meeting a shorter-term interim target detailed in the plan: 60% reduction in GHG emissions below 2018 levels by 2035. To do this, the City, the private sector and broader community must target Miami’s largest sources of emissions, including building energy consumption and on-road transportation, using tech- and people-based solutions. In addition, a critical component of to the City’s carbon neutrality agenda is ensuring that local businesses and residents economically benefit from this transition in the form of investment and living wage jobs. Miami is leading the way in this endeavor and will continue working to find local solutions to complex, global challenges.

Along with unveiling the draft GHG plan, the City of Miami also released its Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP) today. The SWMP focuses on green and gray adaptation measures and includes a comprehensive assessment of the city’s roads, drainage infrastructure, and water management features to identify improvements needed to address capacity and flooding issues. The report prioritizes recommendations to be included within the City’s Capital Improvement Plan, taking into consideration changing climactic patterns, sea level rise (SLR), and the desire to strengthen Miami’s overall climate resilience. In addition to recommending infrastructure projects, the SWMP provides numerous recommendations for policy changes, updating stormwater design standards, and operational/maintenance changes that will improve environmental compliance, water quality, and enhanced resilience.

The SWMP prioritizes capturing water uphill whenever possible to reduce the need for discharging it  into Biscayne Bay through extensive use of exfiltration systems, positive gravity drainage systems and recharge wells. It incorporates green infrastructure such as bioswales, natural drainage, and shoreline improvements whenever possible, proposes additional infrastructure to counter sea level rise, and recommends changes to stormwater infrastructure to filter and capture sediments, debris, and plastics before they can pollute the bay. The new plan recognizes the tremendous growth and construction that is occurring in Miami and incorporates the Miami21 zoning code and the City’s resilience strategy to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the stormwater system.

Residents are invited to learn more about and comment on the new greenhouse gas emissions plan by clicking here and participate in the upcoming virtual Mayor’s Resilience Action Forum on Tuesday, April 27th at 3pm. They can also review the Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP) here and learn about the City of Miami’s broader climate adaptation efforts on the City’s dedicated climate page.