Miami-Dade in Hot Water: Why Building Equitable Climate Resilience is Key to Public Health and Economic Stability in South Florida

This Center for American Progress report analyzes many of the climate change vulnerabilities facing Miami-Dade County, Florida, with a focus on the county’s lowest-income residents. The report provides broad policy recommendations for the county to help combat the effects of climate change.



Use this article to explain why addressing the needs of frontline communities and creating grassroots support for climate adaptation increases the likelihood that measures will actually be implemented. 

Miami-Dade County faces climate risks from sea-level rise that is increasing tidal flooding, saltwater intrusion that threatens the Everglades, heat waves that threaten public health, and risks from extreme weather. The report profiles each of these risks and details the implications for the county.

The lower income populations in Miami-Dade County are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, facing lost wages, financial hardship, difficulty accessing post-disaster aid, among other hardships. In the county, over 100,000 households do not own a personal vehicle, and would rely on public transit to evacuate, as just one example. To make matters worse, low-income people tend to live in areas where local governments are more cash-strapped and less able to respond. The report argues that investments in climate protections need to expand beyond the highly visible tourist areas to better reach lower-income areas.

The report also contains information on past and ongoing resilience efforts in the county, including the GreenPrint plan and community advocacy. It reports that many county officials recognize the need to adapt to climate change, but that progress thus far has been slow. Even more, many residents are unaware of climate threats which creates space for climate denial.

The report’s policy recommendations revolve around public engagement, including improving public knowledge of climate change risks, creating a public climate change forum, and leveraging community organization strengths. The report also recommends mapping social and climate vulnerability and planning for storm displacement.

 

Publication Date: January 2016

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  • Assessment
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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