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St. Louis commits to climate mitigation, adaptation plans

St. Louis commits to climate mitigation, adaptation plans

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With negotiations in Paris on a global climate pact just weeks away, St. Louis is beefing up its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and plan for a warmer, wetter world.

Mayor Francis Slay committed the city to joining the Compact of Mayors, a group formed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. In order to comply with the group’s requirements, St. Louis will need to update its greenhouse gas inventory and outline the hazards and vulnerabilities a changing climate poses to it. The city would also need to develop plans to do what it can to mitigate climate change and adapt to the impacts that are too late to stop.

“Taking action to protect the earth’s climate is critically important for both our present and future generations,” Slay said in a letter to the Compact of Mayors.

The commitment will give St. Louis access to resources and expertise from the Compact of Mayors group as it works to develop plans to both reduce and adapt to climate change. Already, St. Louis has developed a sustainability plan and measured its greenhouse gas emissions, but it is still working to develop an action plan and an adaptation plan.

On Wednesday, Missouri overall was given a grade of “F” for climate change preparedness on a report compiled by Climate Central and ICF International.

Experts expect rising temperatures, more intense droughts and increased rainfall and flooding in the state if the current trajectory of global emissions isn’t curbed, and many believe at least some impact is already underway.

“Missouri is one of only a few states that have taken almost no action to prepare for its future climate risks,” the report said.

Slay’s letter, however, committed St. Louis to both a climate adaptation plan and a strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

“They want a climate action plan, and that would be the mitigation, and a climate adaptation plan,” said Catherine Werner, Slay’s sustainability director. “In the coming year, we will be developing a climate action plan and that will address the mitigation aspect.”

St. Louis will continue working toward its goal of a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 by 2020, a goal Werner said “we seem to be on track to meeting.” St. Louis’s 2010 inventory showed emissions had fallen from 2005 levels by 5.6 percent in 2010.

Werner noted the Rockefeller Foundation last year chose the city to be part of its “100 Resilient Cities Network,” which will fund a new “chief resiliency officer” in City Hall who could assist with the climate adaptation plans.

“The paramount consideration here is the impact on people — people’s health, well being and prosperity,” she said. “And there’s no exception there when it comes to the environment and addressing climate change.”

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