Climate Action and Resilience

Compact of Mayors SigningOn Earth Day 2016, Mayor Greg Fischer signed the Compact of Mayors, now known as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The Global Covenant of Mayors, signed by hundreds of mayors from around the globe, commits Louisville to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the current and future impacts of climate change.

In May 2016, Louisville was selected to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) Network, a program pioneered by The Rockefellar Foundation. Louisville joined 99 cities located in other parts of the world to analyze and prepare for the local shocks and stresses that result from a changing climate. Our city was selected for its pledge to address environmental issues that disproportionately impact low-income and minority neighborhoods. Equity is the underlying theme for this work. An Agenda Setting Workshop was held in January 2017 (read the report on the event), and Mayor Fischer appointed a Chief Equity Officer and a Chief Resilience Officer in April 2017, simultaneiously establishing the Office of Resilience and Community Services at the same time. A community engagement process is under development to begin work on a Resilience Strategy. 

Also in 2016, an updated Multihazard Mitigation Plan was developed and released. This update included floodplain management issues for the first time.

In 2017, Mayor Fischer signed the "We're Still In" letter, pledging that Louisville will work towards the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, regardless of the commitment status at the Federal level. 

Mitigating and Preparing for Climate Change

To become fully compliant with the Global Covenent of Mayors, Louisville Metro Government will:

  • Conduct and release an updated greenhouse gas inventory
  • Set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Publish a Climate Action Plan, which will establish a method for attaining the greenhouse gas reduction target
  • Identify the hazards Louisville faces as a result of climate change
  • Conduct a vulnerability assessment to determine the potential for negative consequences during climate events
  • Develop and publish a Climate Adapation Plan, which will identify strategies to help Louisville adapt to climate change

Understanding the Terms Associated with Climate Change Preparedness

Climate Action Plan - A Climate Action Plan proposes data-driven actions and strategies to achieve the identified greenhouse gas reduction targets. This document will be designed to achieve greenhouse gas reductions in ways that improve quality of life, spur economic growth, and improve resilience for residents and future generations.
Climate Adaptation Plan - This document will outline the intended alterations to Louisville’s systems in response to actual or anticipated climate change. It will cover the services and departments directly managed by Louisville Metro Government and may also consider the actions required by other stakeholders.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory - A Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory is a community-wide count of the emissions released in Louisville or as a result of the activities occuring in Louisville. Greenhouse gases are pollutants that cause the global greenhouse gas effect which produces climate change. According to the EPA, "Worldwide, net emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities increased by 35 percent from 1990 to 2010. Emissions of carbon dioxide, which account for about three-fourths of total emissions, increased by 42 percent over this period. As with the United States, the majority of the world’s emissions result from electricity generation, transportation, and other forms of energy production and use."
Hazards Reporting - Louisville will develop a list of the current and future climate hazards that Louisville faces. These hazards will be categorized within the following categories: meteorological, climatological, hydrological, geophysical, and biological. Examples may include floods, tornados and heat waves. 
Hazard Mitigation Plan - The purpose of the Louisville Metro Hazard Mitigation Plan is to set a strategy for building a more resilient community that will mitigate damages and losses caused by hazard events. The plan is the result of a systematic evaluation of the nature and extent of the vulnerability posed by the effects of hazards (risk assessment) and includes a five-year action plan to minimize future vulnerability (mitigation strategy), accompanied by a schedule that outlines a method for monitoring and evaluating plan progress (plan maintenance). Louisville is required to update its Hazard Mitigation Plan every give years to be eligible for FEMA funding following disasters. 
Resilience Strategy - This document is a concrete action plan that outlines projects and initiatives specifically tailored to the city’s strengths and vulnerabilities. This Strategy gives the city a strong foundation to build resilience and triggers action: spurring coordination, integration, prioritization, and resilience thinking; connecting the city to private sector solution providers that will help them address their challenges, and signaling to the market what additional tools need to be created; and establishing an ongoing global practice of resilience.
Vulnerability Assessment - This exercise is a qualitative or quantitative assessment of the degree to which Louisville is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. This assessment will also include an analysis of Louisville's ability to respond effectively, looking specifically at the economy, natural environmental systems, governance, social support systems and technology. 

Still Confused? Here's a list of differences and similarities between these exercises –  The practice of identifying and reporting hazards for the Global Covenant of Mayors (Hazards Reporting) focuses on climate-related hazards identified by the categories listed in the definition above. While Hazards Reporting, the Resilience Strategy and the Hazards Mitigation Plan address potential hazards, the Resilience Strategy is more comprehensive in that it clearly identifies social and economic stresses and shocks. Examples of shocks and stresses not included in a Hazard Mitigation Plan include overpopulation, poor education, poor health, and poverty (all stresses), and an economic crises, a cyber attack, a disease outbreak or civil unrest (all shocks). Examples of hazards addressed in both plans include tornados, severe winter weather, flooding, earthquakes, and hazardous material spills (all shocks). 

Prior Actions to Mitigate and Prepare for Climate Change

  • In 2005, Mayor Jerry Abramson signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report - November 2008 - This document contains the fullo results of a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory for the 2006 calendar year and for 1990, which was used a baseline. The document also contains greenhouse has inventories for Louisville Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools and the University of Louisville. 
  • Climate Action Report 2009 - This document was published by the Partnership for a Green City (PGC) and provides an overview of the 2006 community-wide greenhouse gas inventory (published in 2008); the greenhouse gas inventories of the partners of the PGC at the time- Louisville Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools, and the University of Louisville; along with suggested strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • 2011 Multihazard Mitigation Plan - This document includes a comprehensive risk assessment that identifies our natural hazards as dam and levee failure, flooding, severe winter storms and tornados. This plan was prepared by the city’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Hazard Mitigation Advisory Committee (Committee) in coordination with the Center for Hazards Research and Policy Development (CHR) at the University of Louisville. The Committee made significant progress through its multi-year effort and strengthened Louisville's ability to withstand natural and caused events.
  • In 2013, Mayor Greg Fischer was one of the inaugural Signatories of the Resilient Communities for America Agreement
The work that went into the 2011 Multihazard Mitigation Plan was rewarded and valued during an 11 month period from September 2008 to August 2009 when Louisville experienced three ‘declared’ disasters (September 2008 hurricane winds, January 2009 ice storm, and August 2009 severe weather flash flood). The ability to respond effectively and recover from these incidents without loss of critical infrastructure services is a testament to the city’s hazard mitigation strategies and protocols. In addition, the county-wide coordinated communication capabilities of the city’s EMA/MetroSafe agency were a tremendous asset for incident command among emergency service responders during these large scale events.

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