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Calls for California to Lead in Climate Change Adaptation

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Commission Calls for California to Lead in Climate Change Adaptation

Twain Harte News Staff — July 24, 2014

The Little Hoover Commission recently sent a message to the state’s leaders: California is beginning to see the initial effects of a warming climate as ongoing efforts by world governments fall short in reducing carbon emissions. Governments statewide must plan now for the impacts of climate change. The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. A new anticipated environmental reality beginning to envelop California includes a Pacific Ocean rising along 1,100 miles of shoreline, irregular precipitation that includes downpours and drought, higher temperatures, larger, more destructive wildfires and diminishing snowfalls. All suggest eventual damage to property, infrastructure and the natural environment, higher insurance rates, disruption of supply chains and financial insecurity.

“It is already too late to head off impacts of climate change. Even as actions to curb greenhouse gases continue, California must prepare for the inevitable,” said Little Hoover Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. “Preparing well will cost far less than rebuilding infrastructure and managing emergencies.”

In its report, “Governing California Through Climate Change,” the Little Hoover Commission calls on the Governor and Legislature to assume the same leadership role in climate change adaptation and risk assessment as it has for addressing greenhouse gases that contribute to a warming atmosphere. “State government in California sets the pace in reducing carbon emissions. The Commission asks the state to exercise the same global leadership in climate adaptation,” said Mr. Nava.

During a year-long study, the Commission found encouragement in efforts by state agencies to understand the climate challenge and gauge California’s vulnerability. However, “There is not much of a game plan beyond a growing stack of studies and plans,” the report states.

The Commission found that there is no single-stop administrative structure in place to create statewide climate adaptation policy, overcome institutional barriers and govern the state’s response to climate change impacts. Adaptation efforts are scattered throughout the bureaucracies of state government. The Commission also found that there is no single authoritative source of clear, standardized information to guide decision-making in contentious arenas such as land use and infrastructure investment. Witnesses testifying at three Commission hearings told the Commission that the state has become good at telling people they may be in danger. But it has not been able to define that danger well at the level of four square blocks in a particular city. Local governments need standardized, authoritative and science-based information on which to base decisions. The state, in short, is still largely unable to tell most Californians what to do about the danger they face…..

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