EPA Issues Report on Urban Resilience to Climate Change for Public Comment

On June 21, EPA announced a 30-day comment period on its draft technical document entitled Evaluating Urban Resilience to Climate Change: A Multi-Sector Approach.  EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) drafted the document based on a tool that it developed to measure urban communities’ resilience to climate change, defined (at xii) as “the ability of a city to reduce exposure and sensitivity to, and recover and learn from gradual climatic changes or extreme climate events.”  The report applies the tool to Worcester, MA and Washington, D.C. as examples, and offers that the analysis may be used “for the purposes of identifying and prioritizing adaptation activities.”

Looking at the energy sector, the draft report indicates (at 65) that Washington, D.C. is “generally resilient with respect to energy supply.” “[A] diverse energy portfolio and redundant systems are in place for coping with extreme events at the regional level, although at the customer or building level, coverage may be inadequate.”  There are some factors that indicate lower resilience in the energy sector, though, including the fact that most of the energy supply originates outside the District and there is a high energy use per capita.  And D.C. residents and commuters might be interested to read that while D.C. demonstrates high resilience in the transportation sector in terms of accessibility and variety of public transportation, the report notes that (at 77-78) “the current transportation infrastructure, particularly the Metro, is not equipped to handle either the gradual impacts of climate change or impacts of extreme climatic events, and limited or no funding is available to remedy this issue.”  Flooding and heat are particular threats to transportation infrastructure.

The draft report found (at 95) Worcester’s energy sector to be relatively resilient, although there is a limited ability to cope with or respond to stressors such as extreme events, outages, and higher peak demand/demand at different times. The city’s diverse and local sources of power and efforts to reduce energy consumption contribute to resilience in this sector.

Comments on the draft document are due July 21, 2016.

Citations in this blog post are to: U.S. EPA. Evaluating Urban Resilience to Climate Change: A Multi-Sector Approach (External Review Draft). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/R-15/312, 2016.  EPA states this document is “distributed solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination peer review” and “should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.” 

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