Guest Blogger Ken Alex: Resilience and Adaptation

Post #7 in a Series on California Climate Policy by Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown

[This is the seventh post in a series expressing my view of why California’s actions on climate change are so important and how they will change the world. The introductory post provides an overview and some general context.]

Climate change has arrived.  Our fire season never ends; we no longer know if we will have a rainy season or how much rain is now normal; our beaches are eroding; temperatures are rising; fog and wind patterns are changing.  More is on the way.  We can reduce the impacts by cutting emissions, but we need to deal with the consequences of what we have already emitted.  That is the idea of resilience and adaptation.

There is no clear demarcation between mitigation (reduction of emissions) and resilience.  For example, resilience involves the use of low emission building materials, building on in-fill sites and preserving agricultural lands.  Those actions also reduce emissions.

Safeguarding California is the State’s blueprint for resilience and adaptation.  AB 1482 directs the Natural Resources Agency to update the document every three years.  In addition, the Governor’s Office and Planning and Research maintains an adaptation clearinghouse for state, regional, and local action and best practices, and runs the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resilience Program.  OPR also helped form the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation, in conjunction with the Local Government Commission to focus on the regional nature of many adaptation and resilience issues.  For example, the climate related issues for the Sierra regions differ significantly from those faced in the San Diego area.

California’s approach is to link local, regional, and state actions, and to replicate successes.  Following the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County, state and local agencies teamed up to obtain a $70 million grant from HUD to build a community watershed and resilience program aimed at improved resilience to large scale fire events.  The program will be designed for use across multiple fire-threatened areas of the California and beyond.  In addition, one aspect of the program is exploring financing mechanisms around actions that improve water quality and that potentially can be monetized.

The State now requires integration of resilience and adaptation into all infrastructure planning.  This is particularly important in light of the billions of dollars authorized by the legislature for transportation and transit under SB 1.

Next blog:  Carbon Capture

Ken Alex is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and serves as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Chair of the Strategic Growth Council.

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