Heat Plan is a critical component of Climate Ready Boston, the City’s initiative to prepare for the near- and long-term effects of climate change, including sea level rise, extreme precipitation and extreme heat.
The City of Boston has released a plan to address the growing impact of extreme heat due to climate change in communities affected by issues linked to environmental justice.
The Heat Resilience Solutions for Boston report presents 26 strategies that aim to help build a “more just, equitable, and resilient Boston”.
In addition to citywide strategies, the Heat Plan focuses on five environmental justice communities that are regarded as hotspots in Boston and experience greater burdens as temperatures increase: Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury.
“Extreme heat in Boston is more than an inconvenience or discomfort – it’s an urgent risk for our health, our neighbourhoods, and our infrastructure,” said Michelle Wu, mayor of Boston.
“Our Heat Resilience Solutions report presents Boston’s roadmap for navigating extreme heat, particularly for our environmental justice communities. This study centres people and reinforces our commitment to a Boston Green New Deal.”
The Heat Plan is a critical component of Climate Ready Boston, the City’s initiative to prepare for the near- and long-term effects of climate change, like sea level rise, coastal storms, extreme precipitation, and extreme heat.
“Extreme heat in Boston is more than an inconvenience or discomfort – it’s an urgent risk for our health, our neighbourhoods, and our infrastructure”
The report builds on heat preparedness work to date and outlines infrastructure and programmatic strategies that will help address the growing risks of hotter summers and extreme heat in Boston. The strategies identified in the Heat Plan will work together with the Urban Forest Plan to improve tree protection, stewardship, and new plantings for nature-based cooling solutions.
Boston reports it is already experiencing the effects of climate change. Over the last decade, the city has experienced more hot days and nights than any decade in the previous 50 years.
The Heat Resilience Solutions report focuses on community-driven solutions to prepare and protect its neighbourhoods for the effects of extreme heat. Climate Ready Boston completed a redlining analysis to explore neighbourhood histories and systemic inequalities in Boston that resulted in certain communities facing greater burdens from climate change.
The analysis showed that redlined areas are 7.5°F hotter in the day, 3.6°F hotter at night, and have 20 per cent less parkland and 40 per cent less tree canopy than areas designated as “A: Best”.
“As the climate changes, Boston will experience increasingly higher average temperatures over time and heat waves will become more common, last longer, and be hotter,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, chief of environment, energy and open space for the City of Boston.
“Past decisions made by the public and private sector have led to increased heat risk in our environmental justice communities. This report is about doing the work to protect the entire city beginning with those communities that are bearing the biggest heat burdens.”
The three-phase plan consists of an analysis of extreme heat, a comprehensive series of strategies, followed by an implementation roadmap for delivering on the strategies.
“This report is about doing the work to protect the entire city beginning with those communities that are bearing the biggest heat burdens”
To support the implementation of the Heat Plan, the City will launch the Boston Extreme Temperatures Response Task Force, which will help deliver a unified, all-of-government response to address chronic high temperature conditions and prepare the city in advance of extreme heat events.
The task force’s work will be supported by the Environment Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Public Health Preparedness with the goal of collaboratively protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of Boston residents facing increasing temperatures and other climate risks.
Climate resilience investments
In addition to transformational climate resilience investments proposed in mayor Wu’s first budget, the City said it is taking critical immediate action to provide heat relief.
Moving forward, it is taking short-term, actionable steps toward relief during heat waves, including City operations and communications, cooling opportunities, and public education.
To expand upon the recommendations proposed in the report, the City will be engaging in a variety of catalytic projects to support extreme heat mitigation, advance economic opportunity, reduce carbon emissions, and improve health for residents and the environment.