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Taking Bold Action in the Face of Climate Change

At the end of October, Sustainable Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Heinz Endowments brought together local stakeholders for the P4 Climate Action Summit, to convene around how we might work together to address the harmful effects of climate change in our region and beyond.

Speakers throughout the day reiterated what many of us already know - that between devastating economic impacts, like decreased tourism due to uncertainty around travel conditions, declining winter recreation revenues due to decreased snowpack, and risk of business closures and lost sales due to natural disasters - to catastrophic societal consequences like loss of home and life in wildfires, or public health crises due to air pollution - the impending climate crisis is a dire threat to society as we know it.

This reality can seem hopeless. What are we to do to mitigate the consequences of this man-made crisis? The keynote speaker, David Wallace-Wells, author of "The Uninhabitable Earth" and Deputy Editor of New York Magazine, offered this reminder: since this problem is one we created, it is a problem we can solve. Wallace-Wells said, “If we make it to 4 degrees warming, it will be because of what we have done. The main driver of global warming is human action, so we can write the story of humanity's future going forward.”

The questions is, what can we do with that power?

The last three decades have accelerated climate change more than any other epoch in history, with a majority of Co2 emissions occurring over the last 30 years. Climate change is not the legacy our ancestors, it is the work of a single generation. In the absence of sweeping, swift, and top-down policy change, what are subnational entities (corporations, states, cities, organizations) to do?

We all have a role to play; Communities are making tough decisions today that will directly affect the next 30 years of impacts from the climate crisis.

From an economic development and business attraction strategy standpoint, there is an opportunity cost to continuing to invest in 19th century technologies in lieu of 21st century industries. The Green Technology and Sustainability Market is expected to grow from $8.7 billion in 2019 to $28.9 billion by 2024. This includes emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, Data Analytics, Cyber Security, and Blockchain, industries which our clients in places like Laramie, Wyoming, are working to foster. When it comes to resilience planning, do we work to bring these green tech companies to our communities, or do we get left behind?

This moment requires working across sectors to enact bold actions. We are all empowered to make choices now that will impact our collective future.

Drop us a line if your community is thinking about how to incorporate resilience into planning efforts, or how to invest in emerging, sustainable, scalable technologies, to see what we’ve learned from other communities, and how we might help.


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