Broward County Climate Change Task Force and Climate Change Initiatives
In 2007, Broward County initiated a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a resolution to support the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. One of the methods to address climate change impacts in the county was the creation of the Broward County Climate Change Task Force in 2008. The Task Force was created to provide recommendations on strategies for Broward County to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Task Force first developed a Climate Change Action Plan in 2009, updated in 2015 and 2020.
Broward County has made significant strides in climate change adaptation, especially sea level rise, over the last two decades. The county began planning for sea level rise in 2002, focusing initially on impacts to water supply. In 2007, Governor Crist signed three executive orders that initiated Florida’s energy policy, created a Florida Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change, and developed energy and climate legislation. Broward County also followed the state’s leadership by signing onto the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement in 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, initiate a greenhouse gas reduction workgroup focused on government operations, and develop a Broward County Climate Change Task Force in 2008 to develop and implement an Action Plan. The Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division supports the Task Force and manages many of the County’s regional climate and energy initiatives. Broward County is also a partner of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, in partnership with Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties.
The Broward County Climate Change Task Force was created to develop recommendations for the Board of County Commissioners on mitigation and adaptation strategies to reduce climate change impacts on the county. The Broward Climate Change Action Plan was developed through analysis of climate science, community participation, and the recommendations of the Task Force. A series of recommendations were created with the analysis of three main types of information: sea level rise projections, greenhouse gas emissions and sources, and a coastal vulnerability assessment. In 2013, Broward County became the first county in Florida to add a climate change element to its comprehensive plan. The element focuses on efforts to improve coordination and preparedness to better respond to climate change impacts on transportation, the built environment, natural systems, and water resources and services. Policy 19.3.13 of the Climate Change Element mandates that the county work with local municipalities to designate Adaptation Action Areas (AAAs) defined by Florida Statue 163.3177(6)(g)10 as “coastal zones that are experiencing coastal flooding due to extreme high tides and storm surge, and are vulnerable to the impacts of rising sea level.” The designation of AAAs helps counties prioritize funding for adaptation planning and investment. While Florida amended state law in 2012 to define AAAs and suggest them as an optional component of local comprehensive plans, Broward County was the first to take advantage of this new planning tool. State law defines AAAs primarily based on sea level rise vulnerability or previous designation as storm surge evacuation zones, and suggests that counties adopting AAAs consider policies to increase resilience to coastal flooding.
In 2015, the Action Plan was updated to include about 100 strategic actions for addressing the economic, environmental, and social impacts of climate change. The same year, the Broward County Board of Commissioners accepted the regional Unified Sea Level Rise Projection of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact to support cohesive planning between the four counties. The Action Plan is the policy basis for work in the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division. One key way the county has addressed adaptation is through a two-ft sea level rise inundation and vulnerability maps used to assess the risk of flooding based on elevation and establish priority funding areas. For example, the county is focused on building infrastructure at higher elevations to decrease economic losses and benefit finance and bond ratings. The county has also implemented several Action Plan recommendations on water resources with respect to saltwater intrusion, stormwater management, wastewater treatment plants, and other critical services at risk from sea level rise and increased precipitation. This includes vulnerability assessments of treatment plants and pumping stations, green infrastructure practices (e.g., green roofs, bio-retention, bioswales), and wetlands restoration. Additional projects that aim to address the recommendations and actions of the Action Plan can be found on the county’s online story map. The map illustrates projects throughout the county focused on flooding, clean energy, drinking water, shorelines, and resilience.
Outcomes and Conclusions
All of the actions (e.g., 95 actions, 23 high priority actions) of the 2015 Action Plan have been completed and a recent update was completed in 2020. The updated plan includes county-wide efforts to address mitigation and adaptation options for transportation, infrastructure, and energy systems. Broward County is also refining its focus on planning, policy, and implementation to a time horizon of 2070.
The county’s adaptation efforts have been motivated by local experience with flooding events and their impacts. The success of their resilience work is facilitated by supportive County Commissioners, broad community commitment and investment, the structure of the Task Force, policy buy-ins, and cooperation from developers.
Score, A. and S.A. Sims (2021). Broward County Climate Change Task Force and Climate Change Initiatives [Case study on a project of Broward County]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/broward-county-climate-change-task-force-and-climate-change-initiatives (Last updated October 2021)