Bill Clinton and Bloomberg unveil ‘climate risk’ project

Clinton and Bloomberg at a 2009 CGI meeting (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)NEW YORK—Former President Bill Clinton and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new climate initiative Monday to help cities measure their risk for severe weather and natural disasters. The hope is to help curb the impact of deadly storms like Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of New York City last October.

The project will be run through C40, a coalition of major cities around the world that united to study the impact of climate change on their municipalities. The group, chaired by Bloomberg, merged two years ago with the Clinton Climate Initiative—an offshoot of Clinton’s philanthropic foundation.

Known as the C40 Risk Assessment Framework, the "climate risk" project, as Bloomberg referred to it, would develop a consistent set of measures by which cities could assess their risk of a natural disaster, including hurricanes and floods.

“Cities simply cannot afford to close their eyes and hope for the best,” Bloomberg said, as he and Clinton unveiled the project during a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan.

“If you can’t measure a risk, you can’t manage it,” Bloomberg added, warning that a damaging storm like Sandy could happen again.

Bloomberg and Clinton argued that having a consistent measure of risk would help lawmakers prioritize on where to spend money to ward off natural disasters and sell voters on why infrastructure is necessary. Among other things, the framework would examine a city's potential for flooding or other issues related to the environment.

A framework "gives legislators something to hang their hats on ... an independent measure of what the risks are,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor added, “It’s like a rating on your bonds. People will believe it.”

Their joint appearance also had the feeling of a political lovefest. Before Bloomberg took the stage, Clinton praised Bloomberg for his work in trying to combat climate change and for his leadership before, during and in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Bloomberg, for his part, praised Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had appeared on stage a few minutes before to announce that she and her husband plan to hold a CGI meeting in Brazil this fall to focus on development in Latin America.

To wild applause, Hillary Clinton noted that this CGI meeting was her first “as a private citizen.”

Afterwards, Bill Clinton took the stage and praised both his wife and their daughter, Chelsea, for taking greater roles in his philanthropic foundation. And he was followed by Bloomberg, who also paused in his remarks to praise Hillary Clinton, a former Democratic senator from New York whom he reportedly courted to be his successor at City Hall when he leaves later this year.

But Bloomberg made no mention of those overtures as he praised Hillary Clinton "as the real star of the show" at the meeting. "I am honored to welcome Secretary Clinton back to New York City," Bloomberg said.

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