Boston Globe, August 2021
It is a reality more ubiquitous than the abundance of campaign signs studding lawns, fences, and windows in many corners of Boston as the Sept. 14 preliminary mayoral election draws closer. The climate crisis, so vividly underscored this summer by ominous and extreme weather patterns and a dire report warning of the need to act, has become a front-and-center issue in the race, with each major candidate laying out a plan to combat and mitigate its impact. The plans vary wildly in length and specifics, but they all acknowledge that the climate catastrophe is a problem that needs tackling. There are some recurrent themes in the various initiatives: the need to cut carbon emissions, invest in green jobs, and foster sustainable development.
Elizabeth Henry, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said climate policies will have to be part of a path to victory for any mayoral contender, as Boston, a coastal city built partially on wetlands, is one of the US cities most vulnerable to sea rise. And Henry said the issue is more prevalent in this mayoral contest than in any other race in the city’s history.
”I don’t think you’re going to be able to win this race in 2021 by paying lip service to climate issues,” said Henry, whose group has endorsed City Councilor Michelle Wu. Plenty is at stake: No corner of the city will be spared from climate challenges, including the stomping grounds of those vying to be the city’s top pol. Rising seas, more stormwater flooding, and more 90-degree days all pose very real and complex problems in the city. In Dorchester, for instance, home to mayoral candidates Annissa Essaibi George and John Barros, the average high tide may pose flood risks to Malibu Beach and the Savin Hill Cove shoreline. Stormwater flooding also could threaten neighborhoods in and around the Interstate 93 corridor, according to city projections. Morrissey Boulevard already floods regularly.