The City of Cambridge and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) today announced they will join forces to develop a regional project to plan and prepare for climate change-induced extreme heat, through a $268,820 state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action grant from the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The award will enable MAPC to develop a regional project for the Metro Mayors Coalition, a group of 15 Boston area municipal leaders whose efforts include a Climate Preparedness Taskforce designed to address climate change issues at a regional level.
“Projects like those receiving awards today are not only critical for the resilience of our communities, but also create local jobs, contribute to the economy, and avoid future costs,” Governor Charlie Baker said in announcing the grant last week. “I am proud of the $44 million we’ve invested to date through MVP, and we look forward to continuing the strong partnerships we’ve built with cities and towns to prepare for climate change impacts throughout the Commonwealth.”
Launched in 2017, the MVP grant and designation program provides Massachusetts communities with funding and technical support to identify climate hazards, develop strategies to improve resilience, and implement priority actions to adapt to climate change.
This past summer, the Metro Boston region experienced several extended heat waves. The City of Cambridge’s Climate Vulnerability Assessment (2015) predicts that, by 2030, the region will experience about 30 days over 90 degrees, up from the historical average of 11 days. By 2070, the region could see as many as 47 to 68 days over 90 degrees and several days over 100. Extreme heat in the region is made worse by urban heat island impact, in which densely developed areas can be several degrees warmer – up to 22 degrees more at night – than surrounding suburbs. Extreme heat poses a public health crisis for the region, especially to vulnerable populations such as young children, seniors, those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions, outdoor workers, and communities of color.
The MVP grant awarded to the City of Cambridge and MAPC will be used to create a regional climate-driven heat plan, including regional coordination around extreme heat events and long-term planning to reduce urban heat islands. This project is one of four projects funded in this MVP grant round to address extreme heat. Others include grants to the Town of Arlington and the Resilient Mystic Collaborative ($186,200 for the Wicked Hot Mystic project), on which MAPC is a project partner; the City of Boston ($280,070 for a Heat Resilience Planning Study); and the City of Chelsea ($262,996 for an Urban Heat Island Mitigation Project).
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the City of Cambridge and the Metro Mayors Coalition to continue to lead on climate issues in the region,” said Rebecca Davis, Deputy Director, MAPC. “This project will better prepare our region for extreme heat, which threatens public health and is exacerbated by climate change. We are grateful for this funding from the State’s MVP program to enable us to create regional solutions to support communities most vulnerable to heat impacts.”
“The City of Cambridge is enthusiastic to work with MAPC and the Metro Mayors Coalition on this important project,” said Louis A. DePasquale, Cambridge City Manager. “While there is much awareness of the threat of climate-driven sea level rise and increased flooding risks, we know from our work that extreme temperatures represent a growing and imminent risk to the public health and quality of life of residents in Cambridge and the metro Boston area. The City also recognizes that to make Cambridge more resilient to climate change, we need to collaborate with our neighbors on initiatives like this one. The City appreciates the work MAPC does to foster collaboration in our region.”
The Metro Mayors Coalition (MMC) is a collaborative group of municipal CEOs from Arlington, Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Melrose, Medford, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop. In 2015, the MMC created the Climate Preparedness Taskforce and committed to addressing climate change issues at a regional level. The Taskforce works together to share learning, collaborate on specific projects, and advance local and State climate policy. The MMC represents over 1.4 million residents in the Commonwealth.
“The Riverside/Point of Pines neighborhood is one of the most vulnerable coastal flooding areas in our city, as evidenced by the multiple times a year the Pines River overflows onto Mills Avenue and the consistent beach erosion of the Point of Pines Beach due to storms and rising tides,” said Representative RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere). “I am thrilled that the City of Revere is a beneficiary of this Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Grant from the Baker administration and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and I am hopeful that this funding will be the beginning of meaningful flood mitigation measures for this neighborhood. I was proud to participate in the City’s MVP planning process in the winter of 2019, in which residents of the Riverside/Point of Pines expressed concerns about the vulnerability of their neighborhood, especially in light of the fact that the unlined Saugus ash landfill is situated directly across the Pines River and is itself susceptible to flooding.”
More information on the MMC Climate Preparedness Taskforce: https://www.mapc.org/our-work/expertise/climate/mmc/