South Miami’s Solar Mandate Sets Example for Other Coastal Cities Facing Existential Threat From Sea Level Rise

Back in July, South Miami decided to require that all new homes built within city limits place solar panels on their roofs. The decision was made in an attempt to help slake the warming related impacts of sea level rise on the city by working to reduce carbon emissions.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard recently noted:

“We’re down in South Florida where climate change and sea level rise are existential threats, so we’re looking for every opportunity to promote renewable energy. It’s carbon reduction, plain and simple. We have a pledge for carbon neutrality. We support the Paris Climate Agreement.”

South Miami joins six California cities now also providing rooftop solar mandates. These include San Francisco, Culver City, Santa Monica, San Mateo, Lancaster, and Sebastapol.

(How quickly greenhouse gas emissions are reduced has a considerable impact on the level of harm caused by future sea level rise. South Miami gets it. But what about the rest of the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts?)

With threats from rising oceans to coastal cities worsening, Miami’s decision is one that resonates with the interests of thousands of communities around the world. Nuisance flooding and increased instances of tidal flooding are on the rise pretty much everywhere. Meanwhile, some cities and island nations are in the process of being wiped off the map entirely as the pace of sea level rise quickens globally.

Coastal cities now have a vested interest in reducing carbon emissions as swiftly as possible. And Miami, like a number of cities in California, recognize that smart policy moves by municipalities can help to speed an energy transition away from the fossil fuels that now account for the vast majority of global carbon emissions.


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Leave a comment


  1. X miller

     /  August 22, 2017

    Surely Senator Marcobot and Governor Voldemort must be deeply concerned about this existential threat to the lives and livelihoods of Floridians, to the point they would support a state income tax so Florida can pay its fair share to repair the damage it has inflicted by way of decades of support of mindless Republicanism?


    • Unfortunately the very harmful republican irrationality continues…


      • wpNSAlito

         /  August 23, 2017

        The low-income (aka lower tax base) communities in the Miami area are done for. No budgeteer is going to spend >10x the value of the property to deal with artesian salt water flooding coming up through the lawns and septic systems of those politically underpowered neighborhoods.


        • It’s kind of a situation where you get a subdivision that just fades out. You have similar issues in low lying areas around the Chesapeake Bay. But the population density is much lower.

          What’s really needed is relocation assistance. Exactly the kind of thing that the Trump Administration is focused on cutting.


  2. wharf rat

     /  August 23, 2017

    Hopping back to Harvey, the water temperatures in the Gulf are 87-88 degrees; Harv could really explode.


    • Yes. We have a solid 1-2 C above average readings in much of the Northern Gulf. Harvey is now a depression and is expected to dump in excess of 15 inches along some parts of the coastline. This is really shaping up to be something else.


  3. “Back in July, South Miami decided to require that all new homes built within city limits place solar panels on their roofs. ”

    Good, but at some point they are going to have to consider rearranging the patio chairs.


    • Hah. Yeah, good point.

      So even for places like Miami, there’s a shot to extend the region’s lifespan. Under BAU Miami could be done in as little as a few decades (or less if things go unexpectedly as has happened in a number of cases lately). Or with a very rapid carbon emission reduction globally, you might string Miami out through end Century or later. The city still has a vested interest in response if you’re looking at the issue from this perspective. Up the coast, there are places that will soon be in Miami’s boat, as it were, without this kind of response. Some could delay that onset. Some could prevent it.

      Also, adaptation requires time. If the pace of change is too rapid, all you end up with is severe disruption. In this respect, we’re all in a situation where we would benefit from slowing down the onset of climate change. And we’re definitely in a situation where we would benefit from lowering the degree of peak warming.


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