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Mr. Green

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's New Climate Action Strategy — And What It Means for New Orleans

Earlier this month, Mayor Mitch Landrieu released a Climate Action Strategy for the city of New Orleans. The comprehensive strategy aims to cut New Orleans’ greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and uphold the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement. The plan builds off of 2015's Resilient New Orleans, which introduced a broad range of actions that continue to aid New Orleans in being less susceptible to hurricanes, heavy rain, crumbling infrastructure, and storm surge. Landrieu's new plan differs from any preceding urban plan in one key way: it's aggressive goal to prevent sea level rise, flooding, and other pollution costs.


Although one city's strategy cannot feasibly mitigate an effect that is attributable to the entire global community, Landrieu has been doing a lot more to address climate change than simply craft strategies applicable to New Orleans alone. Still, it's an immensely personal issue: the biggest factor in terms of Louisiana coastal and wetland shrinkage is sea level rise, due to both ocean acidification and manmade increases in greenhouse gas emissions that have produced rising global temperatures. 


Manmade global warming and ocean acidification are attributable to the actions of the entire global community — certainly not just New Orleans. Landrieu’s Climate Action Strategy may have an impact larger than our Greater Metropolitan area, thanks to Landrieu’s recent efforts to become a pioneer in U.S. climate change circles.


This summer, Landrieu spearheaded the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which basically reaffirms cities across the world are committed to the Paris Agreement. The covenant includes about 7,500 cities which together represent about 700,000,000 people. That's 9.4 percent of the global population. Considering Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord (and that the US population only accounts for 4.4 percent of the global population) that is big news. Landrieu also became the 75th President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors this summer, and used his new position to reaffirm the conference’s commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and environmental concerns in general.


Facts about sea level rise in Louisiana:  


There is no doubt that mitigating global carbon emissions will slow sea level rise in Louisiana. There is no doubt that sea level rise will become — and arguably already is — the largest economic obstacle to Louisiana’s future.


Environmentalists might criticize this strategy because of its overabundance of proposals, its lack of implementations, or because of its non-binding components. However, Landrieu’s efforts are sidestepping an idle administration while engaging private business and affecting community attitudes towards the environment. Landrieu is managing to affect almost one out of every ten people on the planet through these efforts. The good brought about by greenhouse gas reductions are felt by every person, animal, and plant life in this earth.


When considering the costs of Katrina, the money being put into the Coastal Master Plan, the costs of the rainstorm that affected Baton Rouge last year, the other plethora of estimated costs, the effort required to rebuild, how much we value Louisiana things like second-lines, gumbo, the unmistakable ‘Yat accent, and how much we value New Orleans… this plan just seems to make good, plain sense.

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