Climate Governance in New York City

Authors: Khai Hoan Nguyen*, Rutgers University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability, Applied Geography
Keywords: climate change adaptation, urban climate governance, urban resilience, vulnerability, hazards, flooding
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Municipal governments are bracing for climate impacts. Governmental departments have begun to integrate climate information into decision-making processes, adopting a climate resilience mindset into every aspect of urban governance. As a result, scholarly research needs to pay more attention to topics related to public bureaucracy by interrogating how municipal governments adapt existing policies to include climate impacts and exploring whether these policies lead to a more climate resilient future. Climate change will require changes made to the governance culture of institutions. This paper examines the adaptability of institutions, through a case study of New York City, documenting evolution of policy responses to climate impacts under the mayoral administrations of Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio. Specifically, it provides examples illustrating shifts in mayoral policy priorities and rearrangement of bureaucratic structures. Data comes from policy content analysis of relevant planning documents, interviews with high-level city representatives, and participant observation at public and invited meetings. Preliminary findings indicate that urban climate resilience policies are intertwined with other non-climate issues such as affordable housing, green jobs, waterfront/economic development, and land use; mayoral administrations have tremendous influence over policy priorities, while a set of elite actors are in charge of determining the city climate agenda; land use and zoning regulations are the primary tools that municipal government have to address vulnerability to climate change; and much of the current adaptation planning in New York City is done in the shadow of Superstorm Sandy in terms of risk assessment and allocation of post-disaster recovery funding.

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