Mayor: Despite cost, Boston must stem climate change tide
Securing enough money to combat climate change will be a challenge, but is “non-negotiable,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said yesterday, a day after experts said Boston should expect to pay as much as $2.5 billion to curb the effects of rising seas and increasingly intense storms.
“Two billion dollars is (an issue), our budget is $3 billion a year, so of course it’s going to be an issue,” Walsh said. “It’s non-negotiable, we have to do something. We’ve been doing things, we have to actually increase what we’ve been doing.”
Earlier this week, climate experts warned city councilors that the cost of preparing Boston for climate change could be as high as $2.5 billion, even before a pricey seawall. The price of elevating land and retrofitting older buildings is expected to come in between $1 billion and $2.5 billion, but will be necessary for the city to withstand flooding and storm surge.
Walsh said city, state and federal officials will have to work together with developers to foot the bill.
“It’s going to have to be a combination of state, federal and private dollars, city dollars,” Walsh said. “That’s all going to have to come in as we start to plan this out.”
Walsh pointed to a bill forwarded by Gov. Charlie Baker that proposes $1.4 billion in climate change preparedness investments as a step in the right direction.
“We know that there’s an issue, we know that we have some work to do. The governor is filing some legislation that will help us to some degree,” Walsh said. “Ultimately, we have to look at the planning and the building, not just planning but building of resiliency in our city.”
The hearing came after a winter that saw two powerful nor’easters swamp parts of downtown and the Seaport. During the storms, rising water forced the closure of streets, made reaching some homes and businesses impossible and forced city officials to close the MBTA’s Aquarium Station.
Earlier this week, University of Massachusetts Boston professor David Levy and others told councilors that raising vulnerable land and improving old buildings could help the city during floods.
Still, that work wouldn’t include a four-mile seawall designed to keep the water out, a project estimated to cost another $20 billion. A group from UMass Boston is expected to propose additional measures, including a design for a seawall, later this spring.
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