BOSTON - Fourteen Greater Boston communities have created a task force to address the region’s readiness for the challenges of climate change.
The task force is the result of an agreement municipal leaders signed Wednesday, at a summit convened by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
“The Metro Boston region is a dense coastal area that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Walsh said in a statement heralding the agreement. “Cities and towns in the Greater Boston area share environmental vulnerabilities, and a regional platform will ensure coordinated and complementary resiliency and climate action efforts.”
The task force, which will meet every two months, will make policy recommendations and set regional priorities for climate preparedness.
“We’re not going to let the old barriers prevent us from coping with climate change,” Marc Draisen, executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, told WBUR before the summit. “We’re not going to plan for major hurricanes and flooding only up to our borders. We’re going to do it together.”
A UMass Lowell climate scientist, Juliet Rooney-Varga, told the group on Wednesday that the region is No. 8 of 136 metro areas in the world most at risk of coastal flooding.
Rooney-Varga warned that doing nothing is not an option.
“Some examples of impacts would be more than $40 billion a year in annual losses here in Boston due to coastal flooding,” she said, “unprecedented heat waves with more than 60 days a year at more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, increases in the intensity and frequency of storms, and public health risks, like West Nile Virus, Triple EEE, increasing.”
The 14 area communities in the coalition are: Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Melrose, Medford, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Brookline, Winthrop and Braintree.
Walsh first called for the summit last year, on the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which extensively damaged East Coast locations in New Jersey and New York. Massachusetts escaped the full brunt of the storm.