Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

A blog post from the Trust for Public Land outlines the importance of urban parks in slowing and mitigating the effects of climate change. “Many American cities have committed to slashing carbon emissions. Increasingly, they are also trying to make themselves more resilient, adapting streetscapes and green spaces to counter the worst effects of extreme heat and violent storms.” The blog calls parks a vital component of this effort. “Green space has the power to lower air temperature and absorb floodwater and can be designed in a way that enhances those benefits. That’s especially important for disadvantaged communities, whose vulnerable populations are most at risk as the Earth warms.” 

The blog highlights key findings of their 2022 ParkScore® index, including that “Eighty-five percent of cities are adapting parks and recreation facilities to address climate change” and “Seventy-seven percent are enlisting parks to counter urban heat.”

The analysis also uncovered inequities in park distribution. “Our analysis found that the neighborhoods where most residents identify as people of color have access to an average of 43 percent less park acreage than mostly white neighborhoods.”

The blog concludes that more investment is needed to combat climate change and protect the most vulnerable communities. “Congress, state governments, and city councils all must redouble efforts to finance green infrastructure in order to protect communities—especially those that need parks most.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Trust for Public Land

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