- This week, Amazon announced 20 city finalists in the bid to become home to the company’s second headquarters, HQ2.
- The top contenders should be discussing climate resilience strategies related to extreme weather and flooding as part of their bids.
- Climate change-driven events could affect HQ2’s workforce and infrastructure.
On Thursday morning, Amazon unveiled the top 20 contenders to become the company’s second home.
In their proposals, the cities in the running laid out why Amazon should pick them, from their large populations to their skilled tech workforces. Moody’s Analytics, The New York Times, Sperling’s, and CNBC (among others) have each made their own predictions of the top contenders based on Amazon’s specifications. Respectively, they are Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; and Raleigh, North Carolina. All of these cities made the cut as finalists.
Though their HQ2 proposals are not fully public, none of these cities – nor Amazon in its RFP – have openly mentioned the possible ramifications of climate change on HQ2. As The Huffington Post’s Alexander Kaufman notes, climate change-linked events like sea-level rise, hurricanes, and heat waves could affect HQ2’s employees and infrastructure in coming years.
Amazon – as well as city officials from Atlanta and Denver – did not respond to a request to comment. The mayors’ offices of Raleigh and Austin declined to comment.
The city of Austin – which is already prone to drought and flooding – projects summer temperatures to increase, and days where maximum temperatures exceed 100 degrees Farenheit to become more common by 2040. Denver can also expect to see more frequent and dangerous heat wave, droughts, and wildfires by the mid-21st century, according to a 2017 CU-Boulder and Colorado State University report.
Atlanta already experiences extensive droughts and has seen increases in the number of days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees, largely due to climate change. And in North Carolina, hurricane wind speeds and rainfall rates are likely to increase as the planet continues to warm in coming decades, according to the EPA. A number of waterfront cities that submitted bids already face the risk of flooding and power outages during storm surges.
In urban areas, climate change resilience is only going to become a bigger consideration for companies, which depend on their workforces not being hampered by frequent natural disasters. Over the summer, many businesses in the Houston area shut down for several days due to Hurricane Harvey, The Wall Street Journal reported. Gas prices also rose in the state following Harvey, which likely made deliveries via diesel trucks more expensive.
The contenders for HQ2 listed all sorts of reasons why Amazon should pick them. New Jersey said it will grant Amazon $7 billion in tax cuts, while Columbus, Ohio is offering Amazon nearly $2.3 billion in incentives. New York City’s bid included over 26 million square feet of space across three boroughs.
A solid climate resilience strategy could be an extra-attractive benefit.