Mayor Wu announces citywide heat resistance plan on Earth Day – The Daily Free Press

Boston’s Chinatown, one of the five neighborhoods prioritized in Mayor Michelle Wu’s Heat Resilience Solutions plan. Wu announced his plans on April 22 — Earth Day — in an effort to combat rising summer temperatures. ISABELLE MEGOSH/DFP STAFF

Mayor Michelle Wu announced plans for a Heat Resistant Solution for Boston on Earth Day to tackle rising summer temperatures.

“In the last decade alone, Boston has suffered hotter days and nights than any decade in the last 50 years,” Wu said at an April 22 press conference. “In fact, Suffolk County and the Boston area have experienced some of the largest temperature increases on average compared to places around the world.”

This summer, the city will launch pop-up cooling support for 30 community organizations, a “cool bus stop” community design competition and the Cool Roof Grant Program — which will install cool roofs and educate Bostonians about the benefits of roofing.

The city will also invest $2.5 million in a new Climate Ready Roads program to achieve heat resilience, rainwater management and air quality.

The heat resistance plan outlines 26 strategies that will prioritize five neighborhoods facing the extreme heat island effect — a phenomenon in which urban areas experience higher temperatures as sidewalks and buildings absorb more heat than green spaces — including Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury.

“This is not only inconvenient, but dangerous for residents who primarily don’t have air conditioning or live in neighborhoods that experience the heat island effect, such as Chinatown or Roxbury,” City Council President Ed Flynn said in an interview.

The city will also allocate $137 million in capital funds to build and preserve parks, tree canopies and open spaces. Flynn cites green space specifically as a remedy for increasing temperatures in places with minimal treetops.

“We have very few parks,” Flynn said at an April 22 press conference, “but we want to make sure that these young people have the same access to open spaces, to parks, to playgrounds, to athletic programs, as children. other. across town.”

Adam Schlosser — deputy director of the Joint Program for Science and Policy on Global Change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — said governments need to make “bold and bold investment choices” with nature and society in mind.

“Any solution that’s nature-based, I think, can also encourage people to do something together,” says Schosser. “In a very real sense, asking people to come out and plant trees can actually be a very community galvanizing event.”

Boston Climate Action Network Advocacy Director Sophie Cash said climate and social justice issues are intertwined.

“[Extreme Heat] will impact the most marginalized communities in Boston first,” said Cash. “With the current and historical lack of tree canopy in the red-striped neighborhoods, leading to immigrant communities and Black and brown communities having an urban heat island effect that increases in the summer.”

Mattapan resident Maria Isabel Morel said she would encourage the city to build free, cool public spaces for more vulnerable people, such as the elderly and the homeless.

“If the temperature is too high, it can be dangerous for their health,” said Morel.

Extra money Low-income people face a higher “energy burden” because their homes are often older.

“One might have to decide between life savings, air conditioning and paying for food,” says Cash. “That’s crazy.”

The City of Boston Climate Resilience Project Manager Zoe Davis said the heat resilience report aims to focus on solutions and equity.

“It’s not just about cooling the city, but ensuring that the people who are experiencing the greatest impacts have access to the resilience investments we make as a city,” Davis said.

Flynn added that the City Council is also working closely with residents and community leaders.

“It’s about working together and listening to one another, respecting one another and coming up with solutions that work for city dwellers,” Flynn said.

Wu said the City would take “immediate action” but was still looking to the future with its Green New Deal.

“Today’s plan and this task force is our latest step forward, but it definitely won’t be the last,” Wu said. “We will … continue to collaborate towards a citywide Green New Deal and develop a green economy.”

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