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Vice Mayor Jacobs: Candidates Have Real Chance to Talk About Climate Change

by Don Knapp

Kudos to Vice Mayor Kristin Jacobs of Broward County, FL, who co-authored a powerful op-ed in the Florida Sun Sentinel about the need for federal leaders to get serious about the threats of climate change to America's communities, and for President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney to address climate change in their final debate.

She writes:

The focus of the debate will be foreign policy which is ideal for this topic since climate change is a global issue of relevance to all people, and all nations.  Southeast Florida communities have rolled up their sleeves and jumped into this challenge with enthusiasm and a "can-do" attitude.  Now is the time for a broader partnership to address this local, regional and national issue.

Vice Mayor Jacobs explains why federal action is needed to help local governments:

Some major infrastructure upgrades will be expensive and well beyond the resources of individual communities. This is not only true of South Florida, but for communities across the nation. The sooner we begin to address these infrastructural and planning needs, the lesser the longer-term risks and potential for future financial losses locally and regionally.

Currently there is no direct mechanism for the federal government to help fund local government projects to adapt to climate change and there is an unequivocal need and desire by the American people for a strong and overarching national policy to deal with a changing climate.

Federal leaders, she said, should take a cue from local governments who have found strong ways to work together:

Many years of hard work, planning, and cooperation among local governments is coming to fruition for the citizens of southeast Florida, as four county commissions, partners to the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact, will soon consider and vote on a Regional Climate Action Plan for addressing the regional impacts of climate change.

Rather than focusing on partisan differences, elected leaders and county staff within Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties have pooled expertise, resources and time to develop a comprehensive list of recommendations and options for each county to consider and prioritize for their local use.  Concurrent with this effort, Broward County has advanced a climate element as an amendment to our local comprehensive plan that may serve as a model for other regional and local governments.

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