California Seeks Comments on Adaptation Strategy

The 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy Discussion Draft, released by the state Natural Resources Agency, summarizes the latest science on how climate change could impact the state and provides recommendations on how to manage against those threats in seven sector areas. The agency is seeking comments.

Adaptation is a relatively new concept in California climate policy. The term generally refers to response efforts that combat the impacts of climate change – adjustments in natural or human systems to actual or expected climate changes in order to minimize harm or take advantage of opportunities.

In addition to Natural Resources, the state agencies involved in developing the draft strategy include Environmental Protection, Business, Transportation and Housing, Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. The discussion draft focuses on seven different sectors that include:

  • Public Health;
  • Biodiversity and Habitat;
  • Ocean and Coastal Resources;
  • Water Management;
  • Agriculture;
  • Forestry; and
  • Transportation and Energy Infrastructure.
The strategy is a direct response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's November 2008 Executive Order S-13-08 that specifically asks to the Natural Resources Agency to identify how state agencies can respond to rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and extreme natural events. As data continues to be developed and collected, the state's adaptation strategy will be updated.

Preliminary recommendations include:

  • Establish a Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel to further assess California's climate change risks.
  • Consider project alternatives that avoid significant new development in areas prone to flooding, sea-level rise, temperature changes, and precipitation changes.
  • Fire fighting agencies should begin immediately to include climate change impact information into fire program planning.
  • Major development and infrastructure projects should consider climate change impacts in order to comply with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.
  • Alter water use patterns as climate change will likely shift existing supplies and flows including Delta water supply and water quality. Improve Delta ecosystem and stabilize water supplies as developed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
  • Implement strategies to achieve a statewide 20 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2020, expand available state water storage, and implement the Delta Vision Cabinet Group recommendations to improve Delta water supply, water quality, and ecosystem conditions. Support agricultural water use efficiency.
  • Work to meet projected population growth and increased energy demand with greater energy conservation. Renewable energy supplies should be enhanced through the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan to reach a goal of 33 percent of the state's energy supply from renewable sources by 2020 in ways that protect sensitive habitat.
  • Climate change research can and should be used for state planning purposes, and new climate change impact research should be funded and expanded. By January 2010, a Web-based map and interactive Web site should be developed and regularly updated by the California Energy Commission so as to be useful for local decision-makers.
The agency has set a public stakeholder meeting for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 13 at the California Department of Food and Agriculture Building, 1220 N St., Sacramento. The call-in number is 877.536.5793, code 344390. The details for a second meeting have not been finalized. Comments may also be submitted in writing to Adaptation, Natural Resources Agency, 1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311, Sacramento, CA 95814 or by e-mail.

To view the draft in its entirety, visit

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