TAMPA — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has vowed to make climate change a priority in her administration. On Friday, she took a step in that direction, joining a national group of mayors to coordinate efforts to deal with the rising seas and more intense storms threatening the region.
Castor announced Friday morning that she joined the Climate Mayors’ Steering Committee, a group organized by Los Angeles Mayor and fellow Democrat Eric Garcetti.
“Our administration is laser focused on addressing climate change facing the city of Tampa and the regions,” she said in a statement. “We’re a region surrounded by water and while that is a part of our beauty it also makes us ground zero for sea-level rise. I look forward to tackling this effort as a region while implementing best practices from coastal cities from around the globe."
Tampa is in the middle of a national search for a sustainability officer and chief of staff John Bennett recently traveled to the Netherlands to learn how that low-lying country is coping with rising seas. Clearwater and St. Petersburg have already hired sustainability officers.
Castor’s post is the second notable honor for Tampa Bay mayors on the issue. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was named chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ environmental committee in September.
The 24-member steering committee will coordinate local efforts to uphold the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement, a 2016 international pact. President Donald Trump recently notified its members of the United States’ intention to exit the agreement saying it unduly burdened the American economy.
“The membership recognizes the need for cities to lead on climate change regardless of what policies are enacted at the federal level in part because individuals interact most closely with their city government and it is often municipal leaders that are called upon to respond to disaster first,” said a statement released by Castor’s office.
Other prominent mayors on the panel include New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. The mayors of Denver, San Antonio, San Diego, Detroit, Austin and New Orleans are also members of the steering committee.