Jessica Maloney

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2015


As climate change impacts become more severe, and scientific certainty improves, climate action plans are being developed in an attempt to mitigate or adapt to a changing environment. In South Florida, where sea level rise and flooding issues have become part of the daily conversation, these action plans are especially important tools. However, the adoption of climate action plans may have made Florida governments vulnerable in a different way. By adopting these plans, they have acknowledged local climate change impacts and accepted that there are reasonable actions that can be taken to address them. Yet in many cases, the plans are not implemented or seriously acted upon. As shown through the study of past legal cases, this inaction may result in costly or lengthy litigation and will ultimately lead to communities that are not resilient in the face of climate change. It is therefore recommended that climate action plans in Southeast Florida be amended or developed to enforce meaningful actions with clear implementation steps, strict timelines, and regulation or state oversight. By doing so, and by making real efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Florida governments will avoid liability associated with failure to prepare for known climate change impacts. It is also recommended that national legislation, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and Coastal Zone Management Act be revised to include specific climate change considerations. Attention to climate change at every level of government will allow for truly resilient communities.


Department: MAF

MPS Track: CZM

Location: Miami Waterkeeper, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence , Florida

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