We know that when it comes to action on climate change, some of the best work is happening in small towns and big cities across the country.
Earlier this year, local leaders in Fort Collins, Colorado, unanimously adopted some of the most aggressive goals in the nation to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions: 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2030, which would put the city on a path to be carbon neutral by 2050. And in Salt Lake City, Utah, community leaders have put forward the “Sustainable Salt Lake – Plan 2015” that reflects a broad and ambitious agenda to protect its city’s resources, enhance local assets, and establish a path toward greater resiliency and vitality for the community.
But we also know that local resources are often stretched thin, particularly in the low-income communities that need help the most. The third U.S. National Climate Assessment noted that socioeconomic disparities can exacerbate the vulnerability of certain populations, including low-income communities and some communities of color, due in part to limited capacity and resources necessary to prepare and adapt. For example, sea level rise poses the greatest risk to those who live in low-lying neighborhoods on the coast – communities that are often home to vulnerable populations. Rates of asthma – which may be exacerbated by climate change – among African American children are more than double the rates of white children, and Hispanic children are nearly twice as likely as white children to be hospitalized for asthma.
That’s why, last month, the Administration announced Resilience AmeriCorps, a first of its kind effort to support local resilience-building efforts. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation and Cities of Service to place AmeriCorps members in communities to provide capacity building and technical support for climate resilience. Through the program, AmeriCorps members will provide much needed capacity for communities to do things like develop climate preparedness plans, build volunteer networks, and take advantage of the resilience tools available through our Climate Resilience Toolkit.
Today, we are thrilled to share the announcement of the cities selected for the Resilience AmeriCorps pilot program: Anchorage, Alaska; Boulder, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; El Paso, Texas; Minot, North Dakota; New Orleans, Louisiana; Norfolk, Virginia; Phoenix, Arizona; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Today’s announcement responds to a key recommendation of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Last fall, the Task Force told us that local jurisdictions could greatly benefit from focused climate resilience and preparedness expertise provided by programs such as those established by CNCS. Resilience AmeriCorps members will help local leaders in these cities as they plan for and address the impacts of extreme weather events and other climate-related risks while also helping local governments and communities develop the programs, relationships, and capacity needed to support greater community resilience.
With cities, states, and tribes already confronting the costly impacts of climate change, the Administration remains determined in working hand-in-hand with communities as they develop smart strategies and stronger partnerships for building climate resilience.