South Florida Local Leaders On Front Lines Confronting Climate Change

Dec 2, 2015

  While international leaders gather in Paris to look for global approaches to climate change, South Florida's leaders gathered in Key West. They are already immersed in dealing with the issue. Sometimes literally.

"When there is coastal flooding as a result of king tides, such as what we had a couple weeks ago, I can tell you I was up to my knees in the communities in my district," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams. "Local government is the first responder to the impacts of climate change."

Abrams was in Key West this week for the annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit. That's where representatives from Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties compare notes and form common strategies for coping with rising seas.

Earlier this year, the counties cooperated through the compact to create a Unified Sea Level Rise Projection for the region.

Abrams said South Florida's coastal counties can't afford to wait for international consensus or solutions on this issue.

"They're trying to implement solutions that are going to have to be enforced by hundreds of sovereign nations. Good luck with that," Abrams said. "Even if they were expeditious in addressing the issue, ultimately those solutions still have to be carried out — and funded — at the local level."