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    After serving on the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and the City's Energy and Sustainability Director, Dr. Haris Alibašić are pleased to see that their recommendations influenced the White House’s newly-released Task Force Recommendations Progress Report. The report on Climate Preparedness includes a series of actions taken by the administration that targeted building climate resilience among vulnerable communities.

    The President's Climate Preparedness and Resilience Task Force first convened in 2013 to develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local, state and tribal governments in achieving resilience through disaster preparedness, built systems, natural systems and agriculture, and community development and health.

    Shira Miller, White House council on environmental quality, said, “As part of his Climate Action Plan, the President established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to help the Federal Government respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change.”

    The progress report highlighted some of the key actions taken by the Administration in support of the Task Force’s recommendations, presented to the President in November 2014. The White House also announced a series of new actions that will be implemented in the near future that focus on building resilience in the communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, allotting over $25 million in private and public investments to the efforts. 

    According to Mayor Heartwell, the City of Grand Rapids has been considering the impacts to climate change since 2008. Assessments of potential climate impacts were included in the Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report, completed in partnership with West Michigan environmental Action Council (WMEAC).

    Mayor Heartwell said communities, like Grand Rapids, and individuals across the country must prepare for climate change.

    “While we must make strenuous efforts to reduce GHG emissions, past emissions have and will continue to impact our climate today. Climate change is an urgent challenge that requires us to develop, and leverage, extraordinary capacity for resilience and innovation across sectors,” he said.

    “In 2013, Grand Rapids experienced extreme flooding that devastated and impacted homes, business and public infrastructure. While we are working to improve our flood walls, improving our infrastructure and implementing alternative ways of handling future floods, there is no doubt that climate science indicates we should expect more of these unprecedented events in the future.”