Charleston is often hailed as one of the few cities taking measures to fight climate change, however, what steps is the city taking to confront these potential dangers and safeguard against the rising sea level threat?
The Sea Level Rise Strategy
- In 2015, following the flooding of Hurricane Joaquin, the city of Charleston released a twenty page proposal titled the Sea Level Rise Strategy focusing on building resilience. This proposal has been reviewed and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- The document suggested reacting by reinvesting in bettering infrastructure, improving communication during flood responses, and becoming better prepared to address flooding before it happens.
- The city has been rebuilding and reinforcing the public drainage systems since the 1980s, and continues to target the areas most at risk for flooding.
- The Sea Level Rise strategy explicitly outlines several goals and initiative that the government planned to enact to reduce the risk of flooding, ensure public safety and guarantee recovery.
- Over $250 million has already been spent on protecting the city from further flood damage.The city has taken steps to limit development in flood zones, even in areas off the peninsula like West Ashley.
- More recently the city announced its plans to raise the lower Battery by two and a half feet by the end of 2018 to combat rising sea levels and increased flooding during high tide and hurricanes.
- Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg actively supports the Sea Level Rise Strategy and finding new ways to protect the city from flooding and sea level rise.
- Tecklenburg signed the Paris Agreement last August after President Trump withdrew along with several other prominent South Carolina mayors.
- However, Tecklenburg prioritizes limiting the effects of flooding over addressing climate change initiatives and is often criticized for not more aggressively applying sustainability to the city.
- This year marks the College’s first year of their new sustainability Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that endeavors to educate students of sustainable practice and implement them over the course of the next ten years.
- The College, in preparation, has prepared several sustainability and climate action plans to eliminate carbon waste.
- The impacts of these initiatives has yet to be seen in the long term.