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Mayor Martin Walsh Wants A Public-Private Defense Against Climate Change

The now-canceled GE tower was featured in a recent Boston climate study and had been marketed for its life science potential.

Dumpsters floating down Fort Point streets last winter and downtown streets flooding during high tide are recent reminders that Boston’s most valuable real estate is vulnerable to rising sea levels and climate change.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh revealed a plan Wednesday to protect the city from its future environmental threats, and it requires private investment. 

Resilient Boston Harbor is a citywide plan that calls for a network of new parks and enhancements to existing ones to combat encroaching waters on the city’s 47 miles of coastline. The plan calls for creating 67 acres of new green space and new sea walls on privately owned sections of the Harborwalk, the Boston Globe reports

The plan is an extension of the previously announced Imagine Boston 2030 and Climate Ready Boston plans. While the plan entails ambitious projects like raising the flood-susceptible Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester, it would also increase public access to the waterfront when fully executed. 

Pricier options like a multibillion-dollar harbor wall have been proposed as Boston's climate change solution, but critics balked at the price. With a price tag approaching $1B just for its South Boston component, the plan still has its own financing hurdles. Walsh pledged roughly $16M annually from the city budget and indicated he is working to attain both state and federal funding. Business contributions are also necessary, and many companies appear to be on board. General Electric is building a new headquarters along a vulnerable stretch of Fort Point and has said it will support Walsh’s plan, the Boston Business Journal reports

About $80B in Boston CRE has been identified as most vulnerable to rising sea levels.