Hudson Valley Municipal Official's Views on Climate Change


Published on

This presentation will focus on data gathered from a survey and in-depth interviews with Hudson Valley municipal
officials. The goal of this project was to determine Hudson Valley local government officials’ attitudes toward climate
change and perceptions of climate change taking place in their communities. We also determined local government
officials’ views of risks, vulnerabilities, and issues associated with climate change as it will impact the natural resources
and infrastructure under their jurisdiction. We will discuss what actions local governments are taking to mitigate and
adapt to climate change as well as why some are not. Results also show local government officials’ views of adaptations
and policy options which might address issues resulting from climate change. We also offer suggestions on the most
effective ways of reaching municipal officials with information about climate change threats at a local level – including
the resources that will help local government officials implement solutions and adaptations. Presentation by Shorna Allred, Allison Chatrchyan, and Maureen Mullen. August 13, 2012, Hudson Valley Climate Action Network, Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg, NY

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • The majority are elected officials
  • Based on DEC regions. The majority were from the Hudson River Valley.
  • About a third “don’t know much” or “know a little bit”Just over half are “moderately well-informed”And the remaining 14% feel they are “very knowledgeable” or “experts”
  • 71% agree that the science indicates our climate is changing with 20% remaining neutral63% agree with the future predictions of climate change with 21% remaining neutral59% already see climate change in NY with 23% remaining neutral48% don’t think that there is sufficient information to address climate impacts at the local level with 28% remaining neutral
  • Remove N/A and calculate out of the yes, no, and DK
  • There were 146 total actions performed by these 60 municipalities.The #1 adaptation action was “working through new or existing partnerships with local groups, organizations, or agencies to address climate change issues.” Some of the other actions taken, in which less than 10% of the municipalities were doing, were “collecting data to monitor climate changes” (5) and “conduct a climate change vulnerability or risk assessment “(3)
  • There were 260 total actions performed by these 60 municipalities.The #1 mitigation action was “make investments to realize energy savings from buildings”
  • Being a responsible leader: “being a responsible leader,” “help spur on the green economy,” “getting a head start on inevitable changes,” and “thinking globally and acting locally” Fiscal savings: “spreading out costs of mitigation and adaptation over time,” “long-run fiscal savings (beyond 5-yr time horizon),” “short-run fiscal savings (within 5 yrs or less),” and “conserving resources and building resilience”Cooperation and partnerships: “cooperating with other agencies, organizations, etc.” and “in order to develop useful partnerships”“Constituent pressure to take action”Inaction of government: “lack of action at the federal/state/local level” Top-down mandate: “responding to requirement or mandate from above,” “implementing direction from leadership that actions should be taken”Local impacts = “perceived future threat of climate changes at the local level,” “scientific evidence that climate changes are real,” “impacts of climate change being felt at the local level”“Concerns about social equity”
  • 1-2 actions, n=34; 3-12 actions, n=23
  • 1-4 actions, n=34; 5-10 actions, n=22
  • **This question was asked of all the municipal officials, n~257**Lack of resources: “not enough technical assistance available,” savings not realized immediately,” “high cost of changes to mitigate GHG emissions,” “high cost of changes to respond and adapt to local impacts of climate change,” “not relevant given the other pressing problems that demand the attention of my municipality,” “not enough information on potential savings and when they will be realized (savings not realized immediately),” “lack of funding to develop new programs,” “lack of staff to take on new initiatives,” “not enough information on future costs of climate change and reduced costs if actions are taken,” and “not enough information about what funding exists to take on climate change mitigation or adaptation projects.”Inaction of gov on all levels: “lack of action at the federal level,” “lack of action at the state level,” and “lack of action by other local governments.”Lack of info and external pressure to act: “lack of constituent pressure to take action,” “belief that a higher government entity should take the lead, not local government,” “lack of consensus that climate change is a real and current problem,” “lack of perceived future threat of climate change at the local level,” “climate change impacts not yet being felt at the local level,” “lack of appropriate information/data provided to local government,” and “level of understanding of climate change impacts is low in my organization or community.” Intra-organization issues: “lack authority to makes changes,” “conflict within my local government/municipality,” “not perceived by my manager as part of my job description,” and “overwhelming, I don’t know where to start or how to prioritize.”
  • The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. The USGCRP began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990Thirteen departments and agencies participate in the USGCRP, which was known as the U.S. Climate Change Science Program from 2002 through 2008. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have capped and will reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector 10% by 2018. States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in consumer benefits: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies.
  • How much knowledge do you feel you have about the causes of extreme weather events and climate change?Have you seen any local effects of climate change in your municipality? How vulnerable do you think your municipality is to extreme weather events and/or a changing climate? Has your municipality started any local planning to address the effects of climate change? What are the barriers to addressing climate change at a local level? What kinds of local projects or municipal planning tools would be most useful to help your municipality become better prepared to deal with a changing climate? What specific information, resources, or training does your municipality need?Have you ever sought out information about climate change - from which agencies or sources?Would you be interested in additional training? Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
  • Information about regulations: “EPA regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act” and “incorporation of climate change into state regulations”Educational and communication resources: “educational resources (fact sheets, public service announcements, training sessions, webinars, etc.)” and “increased cross-discipline communication and partnerships” Climate change research and data: “specific projections of climate change at local level, such as changes in rainfall, temperatures, sea level, etc.,” “institutionalized/centralized monitoring programs,” “institutionalized/centralized data management and delivery programs/systems,” “additional applied research knowledge about particular effects of climate on resources, habitats, and/or species,” “a centralized place for information sharing among agencies and organizations within NYS,” “additional research on effective adaptations to climate change impacts,” and “citizen volunteers for monitoring changes.”Climate change info and planning resources: “further data/information about climate change in general,” “revised management plans and/or specific/detailed planning guidelines reflecting climate change impacts,” “model ordinances that could be adopted by local governments to help with climate change adaptation,” “understanding of existing municipal laws or powers that could be used by local government,” “information on the economic value of ecosystem services (clean water, flood protection, food sources, etc.,” “information on how to assess vulnerability of community’s resources,” and “information and/or funding for the development or implementation of hazard mitigation plans.” Information on funding/incentive sources: “incentives (i.e., tax, financial, cost-share) for adopting specific actions” and “funding/grants for mitigation/adaptation efforts.”
  • Hudson Valley Municipal Official's Views on Climate Change

    1. 1. Hudson Valley Municipal Official Views on Climate Change Allison M. Chatrchyan Shorna Allred Maureen Mullen Cornell Cooperative Associate Professor Communications Outreach Extension (CCE) Human Dimensions of AssistantCCE Statewide Energy & Natural Resources Dept. of Natural Resources Climate Change Team Dept. of Natural Resources Cornell University Presentation to the Hudson Valley Climate Change Network Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg, NY August 13, 2012
    2. 2. Municipal Climate Change Study• Cornell Smith Lever Funding (R. Schneider, PI) 2007-10 for three year study focused on natural resource professionals. Grant from Water Resources Institute (S. Allred, PI) 2011-2012 to study municipal officials in Hudson Valley.• Collaboration between faculty, CCE Extension, and project partners (NYS DEC, HREP) in survey design & outputs.
    3. 3. Importance of Local Governments• Cities are pivotal actors in climate change but a relatively understudied in U.S. (Sharp et al. 2011)• Many local governments are crafting policy to address climate change (Sharp et al. 2011)• Important to understand motivation for actions for climate protection policies as well as what actions are being taken for planning and implementation
    4. 4. Goals of Study Were to Determine…1. General views on climate change; risks and issues associated with climate change and natural resources2. Adaptation tools which might successfully address climate change.3. Attitudes towards various state and local policy solutions to address climate change.4. If/if not already taking action in their positions to address climate change (why/why not). Benefits/obstacles of taking action.5. Information Needs/Tools to help implement solutions and adaptations.
    5. 5. Research MethodsQuantitative• Web + Mail Survey• Factor AnalysisQualitative• In-depth interviews• Thematic coding
    6. 6. Survey Methodology• Survey of municipal officials in New York State, with oversampling for Hudson Valley (N=1,488) – Primarily web (mail for those without accessible e-mail addresses) – County Executives, Mayors, Town Supervisors, Environmental Management Council members, and Conservation Advisory Council members, N=1,416 – Conducted 2010-2011 – 1 invitation e-mail and up to 6 reminder e-mail contacts – Response rate=21% (n=299)
    7. 7. Our respondents were:Municipal Role n %Elected officials 201 70.5%Appointed officials 35 12.3%Paid Staff 23 8.1%Volunteer Position (i.e., committee member) 12 4.2%Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC) 25 8.8%or Board MemberMunicipal consultant 4 1.4% 0.4%Other function 1 “Codes, Ag Comp. Plan”
    8. 8. Respondents held these positions for: Number of years n % 0-9 years 158 59.0% 10-19 years 71 26.5% 20-29 years 29 10.8% 30-39 years 8 3.0% 40-49 years 1 0.4% 50+ years 1 0.4%
    9. 9. Region 1: 3.3%Respondents were from: (10) Region 2: 0% Region 3: 26.4% (79) Region 4: 16.7% (50) Region 5: 11.4% (34) Region 6: 5% (15) Region 7: 13.8% (41) 54.5% Region 8: 12% (36) Region 9: 10.4% (31)
    10. 10. How would you assess your current level ofknowledge about the causes and potentialimpacts of climate change in New York State? 1% (2) 8% 13% (24) (38) I dont know much 23% I know a little bit (67) I am moderately well- informed I am very knowledgeable I am an expert 55% (156)
    11. 11. Key findings of municipal officials’ attitudes aboutclimate change: 3% The science indicates our 7% 20% 40% 31% climate is changing There is sufficient evidence 3% that over the coming decade, climate change will 13% 21% 37% 26% affect the natural resources Strongly disagree with which I work Disagree 4% NeutralI already see evidence of how Agree climate change is affecting 14% 23% 40% 19% New Yorks natural resources Strongly agreeThere is sufficient information available on how to address 10% 38% 28% 20% 4% climate impacts at the local level 0% 50% 100%
    12. 12. Please rate the relevancy and vulnerability of the following impacts to your municipality: 5 Relevancy Vulnerability 4 3 2 1eased averageIncreased temperatureIncreased severity or frequency of other extreme weath Increased sea level temperature with reduced freezingheatdrought winter in summer, higher Increased summer index Increased precipitation, SCALE: 1 = not at all relevant/vulnerable, 5 = very relevant/vulnerable
    13. 13. Has your municipality already taken actions toaddress climate change? I dont know Yes 9% 24% (23) (60) No 67% (169)
    14. 14. What actions has your municipality taken toadapt to climate change?Adaptation Actions n %Partnering with local groups to address climate issues 25 42%Developing a flood mitigation plan/program 22 37%Planning on long-term horizons (10+ years) 14 23%Conducting outreach and education 13 22%Practicing adaptive management 13 22%Developing a climate action plan 12 20%Planning for specific adaptations at the local level 12 20%Implementing a climate action plan 6 10%
    15. 15. What actions has your municipality taken tomitigate climate change?Mitigation Actions n %Investing in energy savings from buildings 52 87%Planting trees 43 72%Investing in and protecting green and open spaces 36 60%Investing in energy savings from transportation 24 40%Purchasing renewable energy 22 37%Adopting Climate Smart Communities 22 37%Investing in energy savings from industrial & waste 19 32%processesConduct baseline GHG emissions inventory and forecast 16 27%Developing climate action plan for GHG 12 20%Adopting emissions reduction target for the forecast year 10 17%
    16. 16. What factors prompted your municipality totake action?Factor Mean Rating1Being a Responsible Leader 3.68Fiscal Savings 3.59Cooperation and Partnerships 3.37Constituent Pressure 2.97Inaction of Government, Top-down Mandate, 2.82and Local Impacts11=not important, 2=slightly important, 3=somewhat important, 4=important, 5=very important
    17. 17. Factors that Influenced Adaptation ActionsInfluencing Factors1 Mean for Each Group F-Statistic P-value 1-2 actions= 3.53Proactive Leadership 5.757 .020* 3-12 actions= 4.06 1-2 actions= 2.67Inaction of Government 4.391 .042* 3-12 actions= 3.26Cooperation and 1-2 actions= 3.27 2.885 .095Partnerships 3-12 actions= 3.76 1-2 actions= 3.54Fiscal Savings 1.507 .225 3-12 actions= 3.82 1-2 actions= 2.97Constituent Pressure 0.176 .677 3-12 actions= 3.1011=not important, 2=slightly important, 3=somewhat important, 4=important, 5=very important*significant difference between groups at the p<.05 level
    18. 18. Factors that Influenced Mitigation ActionsInfluencing Factors1 Mean for Each Group F-Statistic P-value 1-4 actions= 3.42Proactive Leadership 9.778 .003* 5-10 actions= 4.10Cooperation and 1-4 actions= 3.11 5.695 .021*Partnerships 5-10 actions= 3.78 1-4 actions= 2.70Inaction of Government 1.418 .240 5-10 actions= 3.05 1-4 actions= 3.13Constituent Pressure 1.284 .262 5-10 actions= 2.8 1-4 actions= 3.52Fiscal Savings 1.252 .268 5-10 actions= 3.7711=not important, 2=slightly important, 3=somewhat important, 4=important, 5=very important*significant difference between groups at the p<.05 level
    19. 19. What factors are barriers to yourmunicipality taking action? MeanFactor Rating1 3.72Lack of Resources (Financial and Human)Inaction of Government at All Levels 3.17Lack of Information and External Pressure to Act 3.06Intra-Organizational Issues 2.4211=not a barrier, 2=minimal barrier, 3=slight barrier, 4=moderate barrier, 5=significant barrier
    20. 20. In-Depth Interviews• Focus on the Hudson Valley• Qualitative Methods: face to face interviews• Nine interviews with cross section of officials: – Rural vs. Urban Views – 4 Climate Smart Communities (CSC) vs. 5 Non-CSCs – 5 Communities that had experienced significant FEMA- level flooding events vs. 4 Communities with less flooding events
    21. 21. Municipalities Interviewed CSC/FEMA-Level Flooding: No CSC/FEMA-Level Flooding: -City, Mid-Hudson Valley -Populated Suburban Town, Mid-Hudson -Large Urbanized Town, Lower-Hudson-Valley Valley -Small Rural Town, Lower-Hudson Valley -Small Rural Town, Mid-Hudson Valley CSC/Less FEMA-Level Flooding: No CSC/Less FEMA-Level Flooding: -Small, Rural Town, Mid-Hudson Valley -Small Rural Town, Mid-Hudson Valley -City, Upper-Hudson Valley -Small Town, Lower Hudson ValleyMunicipal Officials Interviewed: Town Supervisors (7), City Mayor (1), CityAlderman (1), Town Board (1), CAC (1), Staff (3)Counties Represented:Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Green, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster
    22. 22. In-Depth Interview Questions• How much knowledge do you feel you have?• Have you seen any local effects of climate change?• How vulnerable do you think your municipality is?• Has your municipality started any local planning?• What are the barriers to addressing climate change?• What kinds of local projects or planning tools would be most useful?• What specific information do you need?
    23. 23. Key Findings: Knowledge• 9 Municipalities: – 4 minimal knowledge; 3 fair bit of knowledge; 2 High level of knowledge• Unclear about Science, but See Changes: – “I would say I have limited knowledge as to the theoretical causes for weather changes…I‟m not sure how to tie the cause and effect. We have had some extreme weather situations in the past 2-3 years, but I havent had anyone connect the dots as to the causes of those events.”• Precautionary Principle: – “I think if we wait for the scientists to definitively say “oh there is climate change”, I think it‟s too late so I think that we need to...just start changing our behavior patterns to do what we can to, I won‟t say combat climate change, but counteract it with, with our activities.”
    24. 24. Key Findings: Local EffectsAre you seeing local effects in your municipality?1. Flooding *(*mentioned in every municipality)2. Effects on infrastructure - roads, bridges, culverts3. Heavy rainfall over short periods of time, effecting streams4. Blizzards &ice storms, causing downed trees and power outages5. Negative Budget Impacts6. Milder winters and decreased snowfall/road salt costs7. Sea Level Rise & Ecosystem Effects8. Periods of high temperature, that negatively affect air quality
    25. 25. Key Findings: Local EffectsAre you seeing local effects in your municipality:• “We‟ve had these spectacular events - that 17” of snow in October, the huge snowstorm a couple years ago; we‟ve had flooding, and thing is, all these events are extreme events. There‟s never a nice dusting, there‟s never just a spring shower anymore, you know…It‟s a torrent.” – Supervisor, large Town in Mid-Hudson ValleyInconsistency: Planning & Budgeting Challenges:• “We see such an inconsistency in the weather. Other than that big snowstorm there hasn‟t been any snow this winter. Last year we had 40 something events of snow - so from one year to the other…it‟s incredibly difficult to plan.” – Supervisor, large Town in Mid-Hudson Valley
    26. 26. Key Findings: Vulnerability• 9 Municipalities: – 1 limited vulnerability; 5 somewhat vulnerable; 3 very vulnerable• Higher vulnerability assessment did not lead to greater action• “I‟d say we‟re significantly vulnerable because of the fact that one-third of our community is surrounded by water” – Mayor, Small City in Upper Hudson Valley
    27. 27. Key Findings: Local Action• 9 Municipalities: 8 Taken Some Action; 1 Indicated No Action Taken (actions not necessarily linked to knowledge of climate change impacts): 1. Adaptation: Stormwater/Green Infrastructure 2. Adaptation: Emergency Preparedness 3. Mitigation Climate Smart Community/ICLEI – 4 Municipalities 4. Adaptation: Comprehensive Plan/Local Laws 5. Mitigation: Energy Conservation 6. Mitigation: Community Education 7. Mitigation: GHG Inventory 8. Mitigation: Renewable Energy• Some municipalities unclear about mitigation vs. adaptation measures
    28. 28. Barriers to Addressing Climate Change Locally:1. Financial2. Lack of general understanding of climate change3. Excessive Government Regulation4. Technical5. Competing interests6. Knowledge local effects7. Lack of time/volunteer burnout8. Not a local problem “That‟s the biggest hurdle we still have to overcome is getting the vocabulary more in use. It‟s also a competition of interests…Our biggest immediate issues are economic, employment, economic development, balancing the budget, living within a 2% tax cap, paying for retirement plans for employees, etc. All of those financial issues sit on the table every day and call our names, so how could you even acknowledge climate change.” - City Alderman, Mid-Hudson Valley
    29. 29. Information & Assistance Needs:1. Knowledge of Local Effects2. Education to Improve Basic Understanding3. Funding4. Technical/Government tell us what to do5. Partnerships/Consultations/Cooperation6. Planning Help/Adaptation Resources7. Emergency Planning “We tend to have a reactive plan, you know based around a historic set of weather conditions, and we act accordingly. No one has given us any foresight into what to expect. If I knew that we were going to get „x‟ amount more snow in the next year, we‟d have to budget accordingly with materials, or if I knew we were going to have rainfall of 4” greater in certain months, then that‟s something we‟d have to look at certain roads and figure out what the 4” increase in rainfall would mean to those roads. But I don‟t have that.” - Supervisor of a small, rural town in the Mid-Hudson Valley
    30. 30. How useful would the following resources be inyour work to address climate change at the locallevel? Information about very useful 13% 29% 25% 15% 18% regulations useful Educational and 22% 34% 22% 12% 10%communication resources somewhat useful Climate change research slightly useful 24% 31% 22% 13% 10% and data Climate change not at allinformation and planning 29% 33% 17% 12% 9% useful resources Information on 55% 22% 10%7%6%funding/incentive sources 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
    31. 31. What information does your municipalityneed to address climate change?Information Needs %How likely or severe the effects will be 52%Things you can do to prevent it 51%General information about climate change 44%Available responses to the effects of climate change 41%The process of climate change 27%Multiple answers were allowed
    32. 32. Conclusions and Recommendations• The majority of municipal officials have some knowledge about climate change, but they would like to know more about the likeliness and severity of the predicted climate change effects in their community, how they can prevent and/or respond to these effects, as well as learn more about climate change in general.
    33. 33. Conclusions and Recommendations• Municipal officials would most like access to resources about funding sources and incentive programs, followed by climate change information and data (e.g., monitoring programs, vulnerability assessments, adaptation research), and management plans (e.g., model ordinances, hazard mitigation).
    34. 34. Implications• New York has adopted an 80/50 goal for GHG emission reductions• Large number of small governments (62 counties, 932 towns, and 62 cities)• Municipalities control energy use, infrastructure, planning, and land use decisions locally.• Although a majority of municipal officials believe in the science of climate change, only 24% of the municipal officials surveyed have begun addressing climate change in their community.
    35. 35. Tools• Cornell Climate Change Website:• Climate Change Fact Sheets• Speakers & PPT Presentations• To Be Developed: Decision Tools, based on Needs
    36. 36. Forthcoming Publications• Addressing Climate Change at the Municipal Level. Cornell Climate Change Program Work Team Fact Sheets Series, 2012.• Local Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities: Understanding Municipal Official Perspectives. Cornell University Human Dimensions Research Unit, Outreach Series.• Climate Change Adaptation and Community Resilience. Community and Rural Development Institute (CaRDI) Research and Policy Brief.
    37. 37. Contacts/Questions:Allison Chatrchyan ( Allred ( Mullen (