The Climate Change Adaption Strategy is a living document outlining over 150 actions California looks to implement to protect the state and its communities from climate change.
SACRAMENTO⸺ The Newsom administration launched the updated 2021 Climate Adaptation Strategy to Protect Communities from Accelerating Impacts on April 4.
As part of the launch, the administration hosted an hour-long round table led by California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.
At the round table, several leaders from across the state spoke on the six key priorities which drive resilience actions in California. The round table also introduced a new website creating an interactive experience allowing California residents to keep track of the adaptation strategy with up-to-date information on climate resilience and detailed information on the new strategy.
The first Climate Change Adaptation Strategy was issued in 2009 and again in 2014. In 2015, legislation was passed requiring an adaptation strategy to be updated and rereleased every three years; the last strategy was released in 2018.
The 2021 update builds on the previous adaptation strategies. The document was collaborated on with almost 38 state agencies that will be responsible for the implementation of the strategy moving forward.
The new strategy heavily focuses on the key priorities. It lists goals and specific actions necessary to reach these goals based on sector and regional differences across the state.
At the round table, Senior Climate Advisor Lauren Sanchez said the document has evolved from serving as a way to prepare for the future and looks at what the state can do now to mitigate the effects of climate change that are already in the works.
“Our approach to climate change adaptation has evolved to reflect the existential threat we now face,” said Sanchez at the round table. “Our Climate Adaptation Strategy underscores the governor’s commitment to building a more equitable and thriving future.”
The strategy relies on six key priorities:
- Strengthen protections for climate-vulnerable communities
- Bolster public health and safety efforts to protect against increasing climate risks
- Build a climate-resilient economy
- Accelerate nature-based climate solutions and strengthen the climate resilience of natural systems
- Make decisions based on the best available climate science
- Partner and collaborate to leverage resources
The priorities are meant as a guide for specific actions taken; there are 150 specific actions applied in the adaptation strategy taken from across all sectors. These actions have a specific agency and a timeline for implementation.
“We will build our climate resilience by advancing these six priorities,” said Crowfoot. “Each of the priorities has goals, and each of the goals a set of measurable actions.”
These goals have been posted on the new website, which also features regional-specific goals and strategies.
California is made up of several diverse regions and ecosystems, and each region experiences the effects of climate change differently. Part of the strategy was to recognize each region’s specific needs and vulnerabilities.
Part of the strategy was to hold 10 regional workshops across the state to identify climate impacts.
For example, San Diego has seen an increased risk for wildfire, an expected sea-level rise, and a 5-10-degree increase in temperature before the century is out. The change in the environment creates a stressor on San Diego’s diverse wildlife, which will be seen throughout the county and into parts of Mexico.
The workshops narrowed down concerns for state agencies regarding those regions based on the priorities set by the state.
Concerns varied across the board, but there were several common themes shared throughout California. San Diego mainly showed rising sea-level, wildfires, extreme heat, and drought, while the Inland Deserts showed concerns about excessive heat, drought, wildfire, and landslides.
One of the key priorities identified through this process is accelerating nature-based climate solutions and strengthening climate resilience in natural systems.
Things like the restoration of coastal wetlands can reduce flooding along the coastline.
In the strategy, the first goal under this priority is to increase the pace and scale of nature-based climate solutions. There are twelve actions identified under this goal, like the protection of seagrass habitats.
Seventeen percent of California’s eelgrass population is in San Diego; studies show the grass can hold up to four times more carbon than terrestrial plants and has the potential to be a huge benefit to the atmosphere by helping to reduce greenhouse gases.
Examining how things like seagrass can help to restore the environment or at least mitigate damage naturally is a key point in the plan overall.
To read the full list of climate adaptation actions and keep up with the California Climate Adaptation Strategy, see climateresilience.ca.gov.