Mayor Sly James joined 45 other mayors and county officials from around the country today in a commitment to create more resilient cities, towns, and counties in response to our nation’s growing extreme weather and energy challenges. As an Inaugural Signatory of the Resilient Communities for America campaign, Mayor James is among the first local elected officials in the nation to showcase his leadership on these key issues testing America’s communities.
The national campaign, which launched today, recognizes that local governments like Kansas City, Missouri are on the front lines of responding to increasing disasters and disruptions fueled by a changing climate. An unprecedented increase in heat waves, droughts, floods, severe storms, and wildfires have devastated communities nationwide over the past two years and cost America $188 billion in damages. Communities are also put at risk by unreliable and costly energy, thanks to volatile global prices and aging infrastructure taxed by extreme weather.
“Once again, we’re seeing another issue that Congress has not taken seriously. Because of that inaction, cities must step up and take charge of climate change and ensure their residents and infrastructure are prepared for extreme weather,” said Mayor Sly James. “I am committed to helping Kansas City, Missouri become more resilient and prepared—to keep our community safe and strong, and keep our economy competitive.”
The Resilient Communities for America campaign seeks to champion the work of Mayor James and other local elected officials and local governments at the forefront of the emerging national movement to build resilience—and to inspire hundreds more to follow their lead. Local governments can take a wide range of actions to prepare and protect community members, businesses, infrastructure, and natural resources, and allow communities to bounce back faster from disruptions and disasters.
Kansas City, Missouri, like other parts of the country, is seeing more frequent occurrences of extreme weather: periods of drought that stress our urban tree canopy and contribute to water line breakages; intense rainfall events that result in localized flooding and sewer overflows; record-setting temperatures; and extreme heat waves that contribute to poor air quality (high ozone levels), heat stress on our population, and high demands upon our electrical grid.
In response to these challenges, Kansas City, Missouri has already taken a range of cost-effective actions that increase our resilience.
Adopting an ambitious climate protection plan in 2008 that is being implemented with measures to simultaneously improve the economic vitality, social equity, and environmental quality of our community.
Utilizing extensive green infrastructure to reduce runoff and infiltrate storm water during intense rainfall events in order to reduce sewer overflows into our area’s streams and rivers.
Implementing major energy efficiency improvements to City buildings that have reduced our energy consumption, saved money for our taxpayers, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations.
Converting the City’s fleet to alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas, that improves regional air quality and saves the City more than $1 million annually in fuel costs.
Promoting energy efficiency improvements to all buildings in our community to reduce energy consumption, save money on utility bills, and create business opportunities and new jobs locally.
Contracting for solar panels to be installed on the rooftops of 83 City buildings to produce approximately 2.6 million kWh of electricity for use in municipal operations.
In signing the Resilient Communities for America Agreement, Mayor James joins 45 other leading mayors and county leaders from across the country, including Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington DC, Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, CA; Mayor John Cook of El Paso, TX; Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, NJ, and Mayor Kristin Jacobs of Broward County, FL.
The campaign Agreement letter they signed lays out three commitments for local elected officials:
To urge state and federal leaders to support local resilience initiatives and to take meaningful steps to build resilience and security throughout the nation.
To build community resilience through their own self-defined local actions and goals (emphasizing actions that address climate change, energy security, infrastructure renewal, and economic recovery)
To share their solutions and success stories with other local governments to help accelerate their progress on resilience.
The Resilient Communities for America campaign is being coordinated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the World Wildlife Fund. Learn more at www.resilientamerica.org.