Baltimore Adopts New Hazard Mitigation Plan, Making Climate Change Part of Future Capital and Budget Decisions

October 6, 2013

Recognizing the city’s vulnerability to climate change, Baltimore officials have incorporated planning for sea-level rise, urban heat, and extreme storms into its new hazard mitigation plan. 

The new approach assures that recommendations to help the city adapt to climate change will now be included in all capital and operating budget decision-making. It also makes Baltimore one of the first and largest cities in the U.S. to include mainstream adaptation planning in this manner.

The plan, adopted Oct. 3, updates the city’s All Hazard Mitigation Plan (AHMP) and is designed to better help the city plan for existing hazards while also preparing for future climate change impacts.  It considers climate impacts across four sectors (infrastructure, buildings, natural systems and public services), outlines 50 strategies, and recommends 231 actions to protect and prepare the city for changes that are underway.

The plan calls for structural improvements to combat climate impacts, such as green roofs to defend against the urban heat island effect, and new water pipes to better withstand the damage of seawater that may occur during floods. The plan recognizes that, along with countless other benefits, preemptive adaptive action offers tremendous cost savings.

A key driver for this plan was recent extreme weather events that affected the city.  In the summer of 2012, 13 people died of heat-related causes across Maryland - with at least two of those deaths in Baltimore. And, a violent windstorm ripped off roofs, uprooted trees, and tore down power lines in several Baltimore neighborhoods.  In 2011, Hurricane Irene brought widespread power outages - leaving as many as 850,000 businesses and households without power.  The plan is develops strategies to help Baltimore better weather these types of events in the future.

The plan was released as part of Baltimore’s Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project, which seeks to assure implementation of a comprehensive and new risk-preparedness system for addressing existing and future impacts. The Georgetown Climate Center contributed to the effort by assisting in the development of parts of the plan and providing feedback on draft versions. The Center looks forward to remaining engaged and supportive as Baltimore moves forward into implementation.

The plan can be downloaded from the Office of Sustainability’s website: http://www.baltimoresustainability.org/disaster-preparedness-and-planning-project