We must accelerate the pace of our regional climate change adaptation and mitigation work. To complement efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, UGI advocates for adaptation to to ongoing climate change through smart investments in green infrastructure. Climate change and associated stresses on natural systems, infrastructure, and public health are unfolding now. Our summers are growing hotter, droughts last longer and are more severe, and winter flooding is worsening.
The Institute is active in policy and program development around the City of Portland-Multnomah County Climate Action Plan and Climate Preparation Strategies. We work to reduce impervious areas and increase urban forest canopy, ecoroofs and other tactics to cool our cities, sequester carbon, reduce flooding, and alleviate droughts. Much of our current work centers on infusing climate change adaptation and mitigation measures into updates to comprehensive plans, transportation plans, funding measures, municipal codes, and more.
Natural and Built Green Infrastructure: The Institute promotes protection of natural green infrastructure (natural areas) and built green infrastructure (ecoroofs and bioswales) as innovative ways to address projected increases in winter stormwater runoff and summer heat waves as a result of climate change.
Regional Habitat Connectivity and Ecosystem Resilience: UGI is helping to lead a regional collaborative working on biodiversity connectivity corridors. This effort is developing a strategic plan to refine regional corridor maps and define best management practices for human infrastructure habitat crossings. Through improved habitat connectivity, native fish and wildlife will be better able to move and respond to climate change impacts on habitat.
Our work on urban forestry and native oak-prairie habitat conservation also support robust climate change adaptation. The Portland metro region has among the most intense summer heat island effects, so improving urban forest canopy cover is a crucial adaptation strategy. Native oak-prairie habitats are drought- and fire-resilient ecosystems, with a palette of plant species that may be important to adapting to a warmer, drier climate.