This page provides an overview of the steps the District of Columbia is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
In January 2013, Mayor Vincent Gray signed the Sustainable DC Act of 2012, which was enacted along with the release of the District’s comprehensive sustainability plan, Sustainable DC. The Sustainable DC plan presents a holistic approach to promoting sustainability across many sectors in the District of Columbia, including climate adaptation planning principles. Sustainable DC includes strategies for the built environment, energy, food, nature, transportation, waste, and water sectors. The goals of the plan are to create jobs and grow the local economy; improve public health; provide equal access to services and assistance; and protect the local environment and global climate.
On July 29, 2014, Mayor Gray signed into law the Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014. That law articulates the Mayor’s vision to make the District of Columbia, in one generation, “the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States.” The components of the 2014 Sustainable DC Act are meant to further the goals prioritized in the Sustainable DC plan. The District is currently in the process of updating the plan; a draft Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan was released in Summer 2018.
In November 2016, the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) also released the Climate Ready DC, the District’s climate adaptation plan. The Climate Ready DC plan includes action items for responding to climate impacts, including longer, more frequent heat waves; more frequent intense storms; and increasing sea levels and riverine flooding. The plan identifies projected climate change impacts to infrastructure, community resources, natural resources, and people. In developing Climate Ready DC, DOEE specifically sought to account for the disproportionate climate change impacts on frontline communities by considering social and economic indicators?including poverty, health indicators, and age?as part of its vulnerability analysis. The Climate Ready DC outlines responses across four sectors: transportation and utilities; buildings and development; neighborhoods and communities; and governance and implementation. To support development of the plan, the District also developed climate projections and scenarios for the District and completed a vulnerability and risk assessment.
The District of Columbia was also selected to participate in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative and DC launched its resilience initiative in February 2017. The District is currently working to develop a Resilient DC plan as part of the 100RC initiative.
In November 2016, the District of Columbia Council passed legislation to establish a new Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency. The Commission is responsible for identifying best practices in resiliency, conducting vulnerability assessments for critical infrastructure and systems, and making recommendations for legislative or regulatory changes needed to reduce vulnerabilities, among other duties. The Act also established a Climate Change and Resiliency Fund, to be administered by DOEE on behalf of the Commission.
In July 2018, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the D.C. Green Finance Authority Establishment Act, marking Washington, D.C. as the first city in the country to establish a Green Bank. Green Banks draw on public funds to fill financing gaps and help scale-up clean energy projects to meet sustainability goals, for example expanding renewable energy and creating green jobs. In addition to helping to facilitate increased private investment in clean energy technology, the D.C. Green Bank has also committed to directing increased investment in resilience measures like stormwater management and green infrastructure projects.
Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help the District of Columbia prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: September 10, 2018).
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|D.C. Act 21-539: Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency Establishment Act of 2016||Law and Governance||November 18, 2016|
|Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014 (Washington D.C.)||Law and Governance||July 29, 2014|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Climate Ready DC: The District of Columbia’s Plan to Adapt to a Changing Climate||Land use and built environment, Transportation, Urban, Frontline Communities, Water infrastructure||November 15, 2016|
|DC Water Green Infrastructure, Clean Rivers Project (District of Columbia/Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland)||Land use and built environment, Urban, Water infrastructure||May 2015|
|District of Columbia Department of Transportation: Climate Change Adaptation Plan||Transportation, Urban||February 2013|
|Sustainable DC Plan (Washington D.C.)||Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Energy, Land use and built environment, Public health, Transportation, Urban, Frontline Communities, Water resources||January 2013|
|Clean Rivers, Green District Agreement||Land use and built environment, Water infrastructure||December 2012|
|Climate Ready DC: The District of Columbia’s Plan to Adapt to a Changing Climate||November 15, 2016|
|District of Columbia Department of Transportation: Climate Change Adaptation Plan||February 2013|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Washington, DC Flood Levee System Improvements||Solutions||December 2014|
|Summary of Potential Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation Strategies in the Metropolitan Washington Region (Washington D.C.)||Assessments||June 2013|
|Severe Weather and Critical Infrastructure Resilience: Preparing Washington D.C. (Meeting Summary)||Planning||April 23, 2013|
|Federal Triangle Stormwater Study||Assessments||October 2011|