Conference Focuses on Preparing the Gulf Coast for Climate Change Impacts

From today through Sunday (4-7 March 2010), the National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS) is holding its annual conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, focused on "Staying Afloat: Adapting to Climate Change on the Gulf and Beyond." The conference emphasizes three elements:

  1. "The importance of adaptation as a response to climate change. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the United States and other nations must begin adapting their communities to a warming climate. Our people, our environment, and our economy depend it.
  2. The search for real solutions. Scientists and engineers are doing their part. But lawmakers are lagging behind. We need better land-use and environmental protection, more adaptive regulations, smarter insurance regimes, and more...
  3. New Orleans as a test case. Hurricane Katrina reminded us of how vulnerable cities can be in the face of sudden disaster. We’ll never know the role, if any, climate change played in the Katrina disaster, but we do know that global warming will bring more drought, more disease, and stronger and more frequent storms. This conference will check in on the city’s recovery and identify important lessons that can be applied in New Orleans as well as other cities."

The conference agenda  notes that "[f]or the first time in the City’s history, New Orleans has adopted a comprehensive master plan that specifically recommends that the City account for climate change and anticipated global sea level rise to meet new community standards for resilience and sustainability. "  The master plan, released in late January 2010 and available online, calls for the development of a citywide "Climate Action Plan."  The master plan says:

"New Orleans and the state of Louisiana can begin to lead the national and even international dialogue on combating climate change. At the same time, the City, state, and federal government need to coordinate responses to potential changes in global sea level in outlining hurricane protection, coastal restoration, and land use strategies. To the extent possible, the City should incorporate information about projected climate change impacts in adaptive resilience strategies."  

Online Resources:

Staying Afloat: Adapting to Climate Change on the Gulf and Beyond:  

Climate Change and the Resilience of New Orleans: the Adaptation of Deltaic Urban Form.  [PDF].  Draft paper (2009) by Armando Carbonell and  Douglas J. Meffert, with support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  Commissioned by the World Bank.

 

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