6 Cities That Are Ready for Climate Change

These urban-planning projects prove that embracing nature's own tools can sometimes provide the best defense against drought and flood.

New York City: Staten Island Bluebelt Drainage Basins

This system of strategically placed wetlands over 14,000 acres temporarily stores and filters 350,000 gallons of stormwater—up to 1.75 inches of rain per hour. By protecting and beefing up natural drainage corridors, such as streams and ponds, Staten Island is saving more than $80 million in sewer costs.

Los Angeles: The Rio de Los Angeles State Park

Along with naturally filtering stormwater runoff, the restoration of this park's natural wetlands has given residents new hiking trails surrounded by thriving native plants and wildlife.

Chicago: Green Roof Program

The Windy City's commitment to runoff-reducing green roofs is among the most ambitious in the nation, with nearly 500 plots totaling more than 5.5 million square feet. The effort began in 2001 with the planting of a 20,000-square-foot garden atop City Hall.

Philadelphia: Green City, Clean Waters

Under this plan, Philadelphia will invest $2.5 billion in green infrastructure, including turning nearly 10,000 acres of cement or asphalt into permeable surfaces. This will allow up to an inch of stormwater to seep into the ground instead of running down drains and into the city's water supply.

Portland, Oregon: Green Streets

Curbside rain gardens and planters have cut more than 80 percent of stormwater runoff while saving the city millions of dollars in upgrades over the last decade. Portland also has an Ecoroof policy, which means that all new city-owned buildings and municipal roof-replacement projects must involve green roofs.

San Antonio: The Tree Challenge Program

The city aims to plant 450,000 more trees to help slow down and filter stormwater (so less of it runs over dirty streets and sidewalks and into the water supply). The additional tree canopy will also help cool the city and improve air quality.

NRDC in Action

Chris Wheat, who helped make Chicago a greener place from inside its city hall, is now helping empower city governments across the country to realize their many climate ambitions.

onEarth Story

Indianan Jim Brainard has been making the post-partisan case for building sustainable, resilient cities for more than 20 years.

NRDC in Action

The western city of Ahmedabad is preparing residents to cope with the longer and more intense heat waves sweeping across South Asia—and inspiring other Indian cities and states to follow suit.

onEarth Story

Xavier Cortada’s elevation markers are a colorful yet painful reminder of what Floridians stand to lose from climate change.

Southeast Dispatch

As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers including “living shorelines” among its preferred erosion controls, Alabama is already leading the way to healthier coasts.

Northeast Dispatch

The Big Apple’s combined sewer system is 150 years old—and in desperate need of improvement.


Ditch-diggers and cement trucks? Try trees and rainwater cisterns. City planners across the country are realizing that green infrastructure is the key to climate resilience.

Action Figure

After Hurricane Sandy, Joseph Tirone Jr. helped one Staten Island community navigate New York State’s pilot buyout program. Now he’s on a mission to show others how he did it.

NRDC in Action

For years, states could ignore global warming when creating their disaster-preparedness plans. Not anymore.

onEarth Story

Why transit-oriented development projects need to include affordable housing amid all those luxury condos and cafés.

Southeast Dispatch

A city must decide whether to retreat or stand and fight when rising seas come crashing in.

onEarth Story

"Before the Flood" is set on the battlegrounds of climate change—from the North Pole to the South Pacific to the voting booth.

Personal Action

What is your city doing about climate change? Ask your local leaders these five questions.

Western Dispatch

Roadside plants helped officials trace the source of a public health crisis and led to new standards for clean air in Oregon.


The lowdown on the earth’s central environmental threat.

Southeast Dispatch

Infrastructure woes and marathon commutes plague Hotlanta. But as Georgia’s capital city grows, Atlantans are getting smarter (and out of their cars).

Policy Primer

Climate change is causing more floods and more damage along our coasts and our inland waterways. It’s not only sinking people’s homes, but sinking our country’s disaster response budget.

NRDC in Action

Khalil Shahyd had a hand in helping his hometown recover from Katrina, and now he advocates for climate resiliency on behalf of vulnerable communities nationwide.

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