Excerpted from an article in the American Society of Adaptation Professionals written by Zelalem Adefris, Resilience Director at Catalyst Miami 

You could say that Miami, Florida, is ground zero for climate change. As the American city most vulnerable to sea-level rise, Miami faces existential threats from flooding, storm surge and saltwater intrusion in the city’s drinking water. And growing inequity places Miami’s low-income and marginalized communities at extraordinary risk from climate impacts.

But—thanks to the Miami Climate Alliance, a coalition of citizens’ groups–this coastal city could also be at the forefront of equitable climate adaptation.

Read the full article here.

Take the Florida Climate Pledge

Florida is at a tipping point with regards to climate change impacts, yet as a state it still has not done enough to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  The Florida Climate Pledge is to help Floridians connect the dots between what they care about and how it’s tied to climate change.  From our economy to our health, to biodiversity, to our national security, we are already feeling the effects of climate change and it will only get worse.  TAKE THE PLEDGE HERE.


On September 29th, the residents of Liberty City met at the Housing Community Land Trust Housing Design Town Hall at the Miami Workers Center. They got the opportunity to design their own housing, and also to hear about the design options that SMASH has been working on. For a full summary of the meeting, including the agenda, minutes, pictures and presentation, please go to this link.

If you want to get involved, there’s still time! Please go to the subsite for the Liberty City Committee on Slum and Gentrification and consult the calendar.

Miami Rising Leadership Training

The MCA’s Miami Rising campaign is focused on educating Florida’s frontline communities and allies on solutions to climate change and extreme weather while promoting steps we can take together to transition to a new 100% clean renewable energy.

This past weekend, the Miami Rising Leadership Training was held at the Miami Worker’s Center where 30 volunteers learned about volunteer recruitment, leadership development, and key best practices for common campaign tactics.

Breakout sessions where held from MCA member organizations: The Sierra Club, Miami Workers Center, SMASH, Catalyst, CLEO Institute, 350 South Florida, League of Women Voters, Nextgen Florida, and Rethink Energy Florida.

Couldn’t make it and want to get involved?  Visit the Miami Rising website today.

MCA Signs on to Pay Up Climate Polluters Campaign

In many ways, the past year has been a brutal one for climate advocates. Our country pulled out of a global commitment to reduce emissions; landmark achievements such as the Clean Power Plan remain stalled; and Americans endured 15 $1-billion extreme weather disasters.

Amid that struggle, many climate champions look to Miami as a beacon of hope: leaders who recognize of the realities of climate science; counties coming together to plan for a warmer, wetter world; and groups like ours ensuring any resilient future is also equitable, inclusive and fair.

Despite these positive achievements, Miami still hasn’t come to terms with how it’s going to pay for a climate-resilient future. It’s time to start asking climate polluters — the oil, gas and power companies whose products contributed most to climate change — to pay their fair share of climate costs.

Last fall, Miamians voted to tax themselves to cover $192 million (likely a mere down payment) for projects to prevent sea level rise and flooding. Miami Beach has already spent half a billion dollars to improve stormwater infrastructure.

For too long, residents have borne these costs alone. That has to change. That’s why, as part of Miami Climate Alliance, we’re joining on to the local Pay Up Climate Polluters campaign.

The campaign is asking county and city leaders: When will we start to hold these companies, including Florida utilities, accountable?

Nonprofit and academic reports show that oil, gas and power companies (including some that operate in Florida) knew that burning fossil fuels would lead to climate change as early as the 1970s. Instead of leading the transition to clean energy, they sowed doubt about scientific realities and downplayed risks.

FPL might have withdrawn their request for a rate hike post Irma (they had originally asked for $1.3 billion), we but all know they have been passing hurricane-related repairs onto ratepayers going back to Matthew.

Climate change doesn’t cause hurricanes, but it amplifies the damage they cause. So while they obstruct the transition to clean energy sources, they pass to us costs driven higher by their products. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair, and it must change.

That’s why we’re asking leaders to explore ways to hold companies that contributed most to climate change accountable. Otherwise, we know that these costs, like climate impacts, will fall disproportionately on the low-income and communities of color who contributed least to the problem.

Perhaps Miami — like New York, San Francisco and Oakland — should file a climate damages lawsuit to hold climate polluters liable for the billions it will require to keep our communities safe.

Right now, we’d be thrilled to have a candid discussion about what staying safe will cost us, and who’s going to help us pay.

The UDB Must Be Protected

The Urban Development Boundary (UDB) is a zoning tool in Dade County’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) that restricts high density and industrial uses in the western and southern portions of the County that lie outside it, separating metropolitan Miami Dade from the Everglades through a greenway of farms, nurseries, low density housing, and wetlands. The CDMP also contains several areas referred to as Urban Expansion Areas (UEA’s.) These are areas into which the County may choose to expand the UDB at some point between 2020 and 2030.

The UDB protects our water supply as agricultural lands, wetlands and large lots outside the UDB all provide adequate open space to provide well-field recharge to restore water withdrawn from the Biscayne Aquifer, our chief drinking water source. Many large well-fields lie outside the UDB. It also protects our local food supply, as agriculture is an important part of Miami Dade’s economy, and provides the capacity for local food production. It protects our citizens, the farms and wetlands outside the UDB offer a buffer to flooding that helps keep Miami Dade residents safe during storm events. Development of this region would put all of its potential new occupants at risk of flooding as well as potential health effects associated with living next to heavy mining operations and at a distance which virtually guarantees impossibly long commutes.

Every 7 years the County updates the CDMP under a process known as the Evaluation Appraisal Review. In May of 2017, MDC Mayor Carlos Gimenez began to assemble a Urban Extension Areas Task Force to investigate potential changes to the Land Use Plan to include land in these UEA’s as developable under the ongoing EAR. These areas identified are in conflict with the CDMP, for example: on wellfield protection areas, adjacent or overlapping with CERP, low lying and in flood prone areas.

The Miami Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) is already under way to extend the SR836 past the UDB. This plan was defeated twice through resolutions last year but Mayor Gimenez brought it back under the EAR October cycle 2017 by having the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources (DERM) as the applicant. This proposal sits in direct conflict with everything the County should be doing to make us more resilient in the face of sea level rise. Agriculture and resilient infrastructure must be taken into account while making decisions. Furthermore, there’s an urgent need for infill development in high density areas that are of high elevation, near existing or planned transit corridors. Development should not be allowed on land lying in flood zones as any area identified as “Coastal High Hazard area” and should instead prioritize the protection of lands deemed crucial for aquifer recharge and environmental resilience in order to maintain livability in South Florida.

Moving the UDB will not only encourage development on sensitive areas that preserve vital resources the County needs for aquifer recharge, to protect our communities from floods, sea level rise restoration efforts and continued farming to support the increasing population. As development sprawls further west, the County is obligated to provide utilities and services to these newly developed areas. This all costs taxpayers money, which could instead go towards providing the robust public transit infrastructure that might actually solve these issues.  

The only way forward is to look for sustainable solutions with a plan to build our infrastructure based in smart growth through policies and investments that encourage urban infill, walkability, and transit oriented development systems that will make our streets safer. The ideal solution for our transit challenges would be to implement the Seven50 plan, which could be operated in conjunction with the SMART plan to offer a better menu of transportation options with a chance to build a strong, competitive, environmentally responsible and resilient region. The Seven50 plan ( stands for seven counties in 50 years, a blueprint for growing a more prosperous, more desirable Southeast Florida during the next 50 years and beyond, committed to work collaboratively across jurisdictional boundaries to create a regional plan for sustainable development.


It’s Time To Ban Fracking in Florida

In the recent past, Florida nearly became the largest state to pave the way for fracking, which would have opened up much of the Everglades to widespread oil and natural gas exploration. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) revealed that a Texas-based company made the very first fracking attempt in Collier County. For starting operations without an environmental review or permission, the company was fined a mere $25,000.

In response, a diverse group of nearby citizens concerned about the safety of the drinking water began to flood committee meetings and protest outside State Senator’s offices, culminating in an 80-mile six-day march from the West to the East coast led by outspoken activist Karen Dwyer. A similar citizen-initiated campaign quickly formed in Miami-Dade, and was successfully able to convince a handful of State Senators to switch their votes on the issue. Both coalitions quickly pivoted the conversation and began to demand a full statewide fracking ban instead. Dan A. Hughes has since shut down all of its operations in Florida. Continue reading “It’s Time To Ban Fracking in Florida”

2018 Goals

Over the next year the MCA will be active in direct outreach, community education, and advocacy by forming and supporting local coalitions to establish relationships, provide direct services, and activate neighborhoods for powerful localized advocacy. The MCA remains focused on winning renewable energy and resilience policy shifts, and will directly tap the power of residents to re-center the narrative of climate resilience.

Goal No. 1: Move the County and its 34 municipalities towards 100% renewable energy

Activity 1: Demand that FPL produce 100% of electricity demand in the Unincorporated Municipal Service Area (UMSA) from clean and renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2030.

● Outcome: Voter approval of the franchise agreement – only if renewable energy demand is met. Miami-Dade County Charter is unique in that it requires voter approval of all franchise agreements.

Goal No. 2: Prepare our Vulnerable Communities for the effects of Climate Change

Activity 1: Support the work of the Community Emergency Operations Centers (CEOCs) to ensure that vulnerable communities are not left out of resilience and emergency preparedness planning (address electricity needs post storm – solar as a solution)

● Outcome 1: Assist in the development of CEOC Comprehensive Plan with neighborhood-specific Community Recovery Plans made in consultation with local community members

● Outcome 2: Updated County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan which addresses the needs of our vulnerable populations

Activity 2: Monitor the implementation and creation of community-represented Oversight Board  to ensure transparency and accountability of the Miami Forever General Obligations Bond Program

● Outcome 1: Improved stormwater infrastructure to address flooding, particularly surrounding low-income communities

● Outcome 2:  Safe, storm resistant affordable housing for Miamians so that the vulnerable thrive socially and economically.

Goal No. 3: Creation of a Green Economy and High-Wage Green Jobs in Miami-Dade

Activity 1: Advocate for the expansion of the the County’s Weatherization Assistance Program to assist low-income families in reducing their energy consumption and prepare them for solar, therefore creating green jobs

● Outcome: Increase program funding by $500,000 for a total of $1.2 million to weatherize 250 homes per year, thereby creating green jobs for residents.

Activity 2: Advocate for the increase of FPL spending on energy efficiency programs for low-income households

● Outcome: Less reliance on fossil fuel energy, cost savings on electricity bills, and increase in green jobs

Goal No. 4: Strengthen the membership model of MCA to build climate justice identity and culture, form a more cohesive coalition across South Florida, and create localized chapters that are centered within each frontline neighborhood

Activity 1: Support MCA partner organizations’ training and outreach efforts (CLEO’s Climate 101 Trainings, CLEO’s Climate Speakers and Climate Leaders Programs, Catalyst CLEAR Program, NewFM’s Climate Justice Organizers Training, NewFM’s flood zone canvassing program, NewFM’s neighborhood water testing program, NewFM/Catalyst Miami’s post-Irma needs assessment canvass)

● Outcome 1: Building climate leaders, via expert coaching, to create a network of people in frontline communities helping to shift the public narrative on resilience towards community power and solutions

● Outcome 2: Building community learning and climate understanding, achieving increased and more effective advocacy