Medford Climate Change Plan: City Forewarns Swift Gains Or Losses To Population Numbers
MEDFORD, Ore. — Dealing with many red flags, a stark warning that emerged from a meeting of the Medford City Council on Thursday night was the need for the city to plan for two very different possibilities: An increase in the population, or a sudden population loss.
As part of Medford’s Go Green Initiative, the city unanimously approved a long-range climate plan that could help to soften the blow of an increasingly hotter, drier region, as they work on educational efforts to keep the public informed of the effect of climate change.
Confronting Climate Change With Medford’s Go Green Initiative!
Released in April 2022, Medford’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan was developed over two years with contributions from the public, staff, non-profits, and state agencies. The city has also made available its Climate Vulnerability Assessment and a 20-year Retrospective on its website, which reflects the climate work undertaken.
Medford’s Hazard Mitigation Plan- updated in 2017, is an effort to identify actions that can be taken proactively to reduce danger to life and property caused by hazardous natural events. Requiring all municipalities seeking eligibility for receiving FEMA funding for hazard mitigation grants, The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 indicates that states must adopt a local multi-hazard mitigation plan and this plan must be updated every five years.
A group of 16 mayors from the Boston area- known as the Metro Mayors Coalition, tackle climate change issues together. Intending to reach net-zero region-wide by 2050, in 2015 they signed a commitment to climate preparedness and this was followed by the signature of an historic agreement in 2016.
An international alliance with the shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change- and to move to a low-emission, resilient society, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is supported by the Climate Mayors, which is a group that focusses on on local action. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting federal and global-level policy actions.
Other important initiatives include the Resilient Mystic Collaborative which Medford staff have played a vital role in forming. It brings together the communities of the Mystic River Watershed, influencing climate change issues facing the region. Active participants in the collaborative, include the staff from Medford’s Office of Planning, Development, and Sustainability, the Engineering Office, and the Health Department bringing millions of dollars in funding to climate issues in the Mystic River Watershed area. In addition, other initiatives which the city has subscribed to include:
- The New England Municipal Sustainability Network of which Medford is a founding member.
- The Massachusetts Green Community to which Medford subscribes has been reporting on local municipal greenhouse gasses annually since 2010.
- The Global Race to Zero Campaign to which Medford pledged in 2021 to cut local greenhouse gases in half by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.
- The US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, and Medford was the first Massachusetts community to join the Challenge.
With 100% of Medford homes located within a ten-minute walk of a park, it’s important to remember that parks can counter urban heat, as well as store carbon in trees, plants, and soil, and can absorb stormwater- reducing flooding. Making cities better equipped to fight climate change, parks are an important element of urban infrastructure.
The city’s commitment to climate resiliency started in 1999 when Medford joined the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, sponsored by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Enabling the city to hire a graduate student intern to complete a greenhouse gas emissions inventory during the summer, Medford joined other 55 cities in participating in this initiative. The full details are reflected in the Memorandum of Understanding between Medford and ICLEI.
But a city is only as good as its citizens, and Medford City Council has suggested that the community gets involved in the following ways:
- By signing up for renewable energy through Medford’s Community Electricity Aggregation Program.
- By using public transportation instead of driving. A walk or bike ride is a good alternative and has health benefits.
- By requesting a free home energy audit, as this points out possible ways to save electricity.
- By installing solar panels in the home, but research is necessary to find the most suitable option.
- By reducing the waste produced in the household by buying less, recycling and reusing, and by composting food waste.
Medford City Council has several useful reports and documents on energy use, climate change impacts, and more on its web page.
They are striving to make Medford a place where everyone can thrive, not just in the present, but also for generations to come. Medford wants their plans to ensure that the future of their community is just, equitable, resilient, and healthy- with a carbon-neutral state being essential to realizing this vision.