California Sets Adaptation Strategy, Creating Panel, App

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Dec. 2 released California's Climate Adaptation Strategy (CAS) final report, which recommends ways the state can manage sea level rise, increased temperatures, shifting precipitation and extreme natural events.

The governor also announced the creation of the Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel and announcing a new Google Earth-based application, Cal-Adapt, that will allow Californians to see the risks of climate change impacts in their communities. The application is not expected to be available until September 2010.

Schwarzenegger said, "We must be prepared if climate change continues to worsen. Scientists tell us temperatures could rise an additional 7 degrees during this century and one study estimates that $2.5 trillion of California assets are threatened by climate change. That is why I signed an executive order last year calling on state agencies to develop adaptation strategies. I am pleased to release the final report making California the first state to adopt such a comprehensive Climate Adaptation Strategy that will help us prepare for the impacts and challenges created by climate change."

The report summarizes the latest science on how climate change could impact the state and provides recommendations on how to manage against those threats. It focuses on seven different sectors:

  • public health,
  • biodiversity and habitat,
  • ocean and coastal resources,
  • water management,
  • agriculture,
  • forestry, and
  • transportation and energy infrastructure.

The report recommends many proposals, including some the state has already initiated, such as reducing water consumption, improving water storage and conservation and increasing renewable energy use. The recommendations will be updated to reflect current findings.

The state is partnering with the Pacific Council on International Policy's task force on California's Adaptation to Climate Change to act as the Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel. This independent, non-partisan group will focus on three key hazards that are most likely to have increasing impact on California as the climate changes. These include increased wildfires and extended fire seasons, rising sea levels along 1,100 miles of coastline and reduced availability of water with reduced snow pack in the Sierras and extended periods of drought. The panel will develop recommendations in July 2010.

Panel members will not receive a salary. The panel is made up of 23 prominent business, labor, environment, and government and private sector leaders.

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