Citing Sandy anniversary, environmental group asks mayoral candidates about plans to protect Boston

In a new web video, released ahead of the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund is calling on Boston’s two mayoral candidates to release detailed plans to protect the city from extreme weather events linked to climate change.

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The 20-second video, released Thursday, is titled “Boylston River” and shows a man drifting down a flooded Boylston Street.

“When the next superstorm hits Boston ... will the next mayor be prepared?” an announcer intones in the video, which is the first in a series that will be released as part of the online campaign.

According to the Boston Harbor Association, Sandy’s storm surge could have flooded more than 80 million square feet of the city if the superstorm had hit Boston just five and a half hours earlier at high tide. Many mayoral candidates noted during the preliminary race that it would have meant City Hall would have been largely under water.

“The effects of climate change are real and they are here now,” ELM Action Fund President George Bachrach said in a statement. “Boston narrowly dodged a bullet when Sandy hit last year, but eventually a superstorm will hit our city, flooding our hospitals, schools, and the MBTA.”

The candidates touched on environmental issues in response to questions submitted by the Globe in August. Both pledged to proactively address the threat posed by rising sea levels and major storms.

Connolly said in the questionnaire that stricter building codes are just one part of the effort. He also proposed convening a panel of climate scientists, civil engineers, and other leading experts to “do for the Boston area what Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently unveiled for New York City: a sweeping, detailed plan to examine our critical infrastructure and offer concrete recommendations for changes we must make to become more resilient.’’

Walsh said the city’s response must be comprehensive, and bold.

“Yes, we will be looking at the role of building codes in encouraging and supporting developers to build smart for Boston. Yes, we will be looking to support actions that protect existing buildings from climate change impacts,” Walsh said.

Beyond those steps, he said, he would look to other cities around the world for ways to make Boston more resilient.

The ELM Action Fund, which is co-sponsoring a candidate forum next Tuesday, has not endorsed a mayoral candidate.

“Both of the candidates to lead Boston have good ideas on the environment, but neither has clearly articulated a plan to protect the city from the next superstorm and to counter the effects of climate change,” Bachrach said.

“A direct hit from a superstorm could have disastrous effects on Boston, and voters deserve to hear a plan to keep us safe before they cast their votes in a few weeks,” he added.