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Miami-Dade County to Release Finalized Plan to Address Climate Change

Alexandra K. Barshel & David Jessup, Jr.

On April 22, 2021, Miami-Dade County released a draft Climate Action Strategy for public comment. The full draft of the report can be found here.

Miami-Dade County often finds itself at the center of the conversation of climate change and resiliency efforts. With so much at stake, the County’s Office of Resilience prepared and released a draft Climate Action Strategy in April with the overarching goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, and improving health and quality of life in Miami-Dade County. After considering public comment during the month of June on issues spanning approaches and proposed actions, the integration of equity, and reporting procedures, among other things, the County plans to publish the final Climate Action Strategy this month. Given that the Climate Action Strategy sets forth ambitious goals and concrete steps to increase energy efficiency in Miami-Dade County, this post serves as a rundown of its main components so that readers can get a head start in understanding what is likely to be included in the much-anticipated final strategy.

The Climate Action Strategy presents the legislative and policymaking steps whereby the County plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030. The Climate Action Strategy outlines three main focus areas targeted for improvement: Energy and Buildings, Land Use and Transportation, and Water and Waste. Multiple approaches are described in each focus area and several specific actions are provided to reach the bold goals.

Proposed approaches to improving Energy and Buildings in the County include retrofitting older buildings, expanding renewable energy sources, and constructing ultra-low energy buildings. Energy production in buildings accounts for 41% of total County emissions. Tracking and improving energy use in older buildings, along with subsidizing energy-efficient repairs in qualified low-income homes will address the 82% of housing units in Miami-Dade County targeted for energy improvement. The second approach in this focus area proposes a significant expansion of solar energy production, a source of tremendous potential in sunny Miami-Dade. Additionally, the County will promote energy efficiency in new construction with Ultra-Low Energy and Zero Energy Buildings standards.

The second focus area of Land Use and Transportation addresses the source of 55% of communitywide emissions. To improve in this area, the County hopes to reduce transportation-related fuel consumption and expand and protect green and blue spaces in the community. Reducing transportation-related fuel consumption will involve electrifying County vehicles, reducing emissions from the airport and port, and expanding low-carbon mobility options, such as cycling and electric scooters, to ultimately reduce citizens reliance on single occupant vehicles. These actions, such as expanding public transit along SMART plan corridors, double as solutions to the County’s traffic problems. The Strategy also proposes a 30% increase in tree canopy coverage by 2030, which would increase the capture of atmospheric carbon, reduce heat, and contribute to the County’s invaluable and world-renowned natural ecosystems.

The third focus area of the Strategy addresses Water and Waste. The first identified approach endeavors to convert waste into usable energy. Along with a goal of burning up to 50% of non-recyclable garbage for energy by 2030, the County is proposing major upgrades to landfills and wastewater treatment facilities to increase energy efficiency. The second approach involves reducing waste production and water consumption by 50% and 30%, respectively. To that end, the County will create a community-wide food rescue plan, implement a construction and demolition waste reduction plan, and expand utility-directed water conservation programs.

While some policies may affect development, the Strategy accounts for continued growth in the County. Environmental resiliency and strategic planning is critical to the continued success and livability of the County; the Climate Action Strategy can help get us there.

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