BART endorses climate change initiative

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Erica Cardozo/Staff
BART, which has been preparing for the impacts of climate change since 2004, has endorsed a Baywide initiative that aims to reduce flood risk and protect at-risk ecosystems, among other goals.

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BART Board of Directors announced the unanimous endorsement of a Bay Area-wide coalition to combat the effects of climate change.

The Bay Adapt Initiative is a regional strategy to establish and begin progress on plans to protect citizens and natural ecosystems from the impacts of rising sea levels, according to the initiative’s website.

Dana Brechwald, Adapting to Rising Tides program manager, described the enterprise’s intent to “bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to prepare the greater Bay Area for climate change.” Brechwald said Bay Adapt achieved this by hosting “a series of conversations to create a joint platform, which is now being used as a road map to make adaptation plans and projects faster and more equitable.”

“We want to emphasize environmental sustainability, and by putting our name in with this initiative, we hope we gave it some momentum,” said James Allison, BART media relations manager. “The board’s action is twofold: One is public recognition of the threat to BART, and the second is its amplification of the whole joint effort.”

When implemented, Bay Adapt will aim to reduce flood risk, protect wetlands and other at-risk ecosystems, equitably represent the interests of low-income communities and increase technical assistance for local communities, according to a BART press release.

Brechwald spoke to the significance of the BART board’s endorsement and the importance of BART’s long-term role in the safety of the Bay Area community.

“Regional systems that span the Bay Area, including BART, have a lot of assets at risk. A lot of people in the region depend on it,” Brechwald said. “If you don’t live along the shoreline, you will still be affected by sea level rise because of these interconnected systems.”

However, the transit system isn’t wholly unprepared for the effects of climate change.

BART has been preparing stations and lines for the impacts of climate change since 2004, when the agency ratified facility standards that took into account climate science, Allison said.

Allison noted that BART has prioritized “at-risk” facilities in these updated standards which would account for projects being not “super apparent.” He added, however, that whenever there are new developments, climate science is kept in mind.

Despite the BART’s ongoing efforts to protect its assets, Brechwald believes it is important to maintain a sense of urgency when it comes to protecting the Bay Area from the threats of climate change.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is right now,” Brechwald said. “We feel a strong sense of urgency to get things coordinated and to get things underway.”

Contact Jack Hughes at [email protected].