On February 6 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the implementation of updated sea-level rise projections to confront the future challenges of climate change. Rapid sea-level rise poses a serious threat to coastal communities, such as New York City. Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has taken a step in the right direction by implementing state-of-the-art methods of sea-level projection. With these new capabilities New York will be able to plan ahead, making the state more resilient to the harmful impacts of sea-level rise.
In September of 2014, Governor Cuomo introduced the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA), requiring the DEC to adopt technology to project sea-level rise. The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) had advocated for updated sea-level maps, with the knowledge that New Yorkers would be better protected from the dangers of sea level rise. The CRRA takes further steps to combat Climate Change by requiring certain facilities and programs to acquire permits that allow them to implement regulations to prepare for sea-level rise. Under the CRRA, New York’s current and new infrastructure will also be reconsidered to determine whether or not the infrastructure is capable of confronting sea-level rise.
These measures to confront sea-level rise are based on in-depth scientific research conducted by scientists through the support of the ClimAID study. Universities participating in the study include Columbia University, Cornell University, and Hunter College. The study considers current glacier melting and climate change. According to the study, if pollution and the burning of fossil fuels continue at the current rate, sea levels could rise by six-feet, causing significant damage to island nations and coastal communities throughout the world.
The steps taken by Governor Cuomo and the DEC have been met with much support. Government agencies and coastal communities will be able to better prepare for the impacts of Climate Change. Agency heads such as State Department of Transportation Commissioner Mathew J. Driscoll explained, “Governor Cuomo is leading the way on making New York State stronger and more resilient in response to severe weather and a changing climate…we will look to the new Community Risk and Resiliency Act to guide bridge and highway projects that will stand for generations to come.” With these new capabilities to project for sea-level rise New York’s infrastructure will increase in resiliency while public safety will improve considerably.
New York State continues to be a leader in preparation for the future challenges of Climate Change. With the steps taken to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, introduce renewable power sources, and the recently introduced sea-level projection technology, New York is setting itself up for a sustainable and secure future.