In March of this year, the City of Raleigh released its first community-wide action plan.
The goal of Raleigh Community Climate Action Plan? Reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
While the document itself is 120+ pages, this primer serves as an entry point to learning what’s being done locally about climate change, our April and May Converging Topic.
👂 Based on your initial feedback, this overview includes more information on what’s being done now and how climate change is anticipated to affect BIPOC communities.
How climate change will affect Raleigh
More and longer-lasting heat waves, more intense storms, which is anticipated to result in worse flooding in low-lying areas. Many historically Black communities, such as those near wetlands, are disproportionately affected now by stormwater, and that could get worse. [more defining climate change]
Another challenge: Raleigh’s expected growth — “some estimates suggest that Raleigh’s population could increase by 50 percent in the next 30 years,” the plan projects.
As Raleigh’s population grows, this will mean more development and infrastructure, the plan says, “more impervious surfaces” (AKA hard surfaces where water cannot seep into the ground) “and more people in need of protection from storms, floods, and extreme heat.”
What the plan includes
The plan seeks to mitigate carbon emissions, “improve community resilience and preparedness” for climate change and “move toward a more equitable community.”
Categorically, you can read about the process to create the plan in chapters 1-4, three big topics in chapters 5-7 and strategies for implementation at the end.
Those three big topics are:
- Buildings & energy: This represents 56% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- Transportation & land use: This represents 42% of greenhouse gas emissions. Land use factors in on the “amount of people driving fewer miles or out of their cars completely.”
- In a section named Resilience and Cross cutting, the plan tackles issues of equity, such as “strategies addressing flood risk, heat and other climate, resilience, and social impacts…”
What the city is doing
Navigate to page 47 and you’ll find action steps, including icons that indicate if the city is a partner or taking the lead, and how far along the action step is (idea, getting started, or action underway).
The plan also outlines how the city sees its role: To lead by example, convene and collaborate, invest in resources for “foundational work” and track implementation and how it’s going.
One of those early priorities is sharing a sustainable business toolkit, Megan Anderson, Sustainability Manager for the City of Raleigh said.
Action steps that expand on current programs include:
- Green Raleigh Review, a “plan review process specifically for adding green stormwater infrastructure and energy efficient practices to a developed site.”
- Working with the existing Building Up-fit Grant program, which helps businesses make improvements and renovations, to “integrate sustainability measures, in addition to the current energy efficiency upgrades.”
- Building support for initiatives such as Raleigh Rainwater Rewards, a reimbursement program for capturing and recycling stormwater runoff.
The CCAP strategies call for limiting further development into the flood plain, but many of the areas likely to experience flooding are low-income and disproportionately effects communities of color.
“As an example,” the plan says, “the neighborhoods of Rochester Heights and Biltmore Hills in Southeast Raleigh lie in some of the lowest areas of the watershed, receive runoff from impervious areas of Downtown Raleigh, and have been bisected by a major interstate, all of which exacerbate flooding issues.”
“These flood-prone areas are among the only properties that are relatively affordable for low-income communities in proximity to downtown. Conversely, limiting additional development on these properties may constrain their resale value and hinder the growth of personal wealth associated with property ownership for these communities.”
Some of the action plans include considering buy outs or restricting development.
Actions to mitigate climate change also impact affordable housing and energy use:
“Approximately 8 to 13 percent of renters in Wake County fall below federal poverty designations,” the plan says. “These individuals will likely spend between 18 and 33 percent of their income on energy costs each year. Energy costs for homeowners are on average a higher percentage of income than for renters. Low- income residents often live in older, less-efficient housing that requires more energy for heating and cooling. Other barriers for low-income communities may include little or no disposable income and little access to credit, which then leads to fewer choices for housing options. Low-income residents are also often more exposed to homes with structural deficiencies that can then make energy efficiency upgrades inaccessible.
This means that people who are already burdened by high energy bills due to a limited array of housing options in their price range may be left out of a strategy meant to ease energy burden.”
The plan suggests energy efficiency strategies will need to be considered in affordable housing, multi-family housing units and other rental properties.
What else do you want to know? Email additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
💻 Miss the event? Watch the city’s introductory webinar, with the city manager and a panel discussion with leaders from transportation, planning and development and stormwater.
More climate change + sustainability:
- Help map urban heat islands to fight climate change impacts (volunteer opportunities still open)
- Learn to compost local: Recap of our live event (video)
- Buildings are the largest contributor to climate change. Why local rules for green building can’t be set, and potential solutions.