California to Create Climate Change Adaption Plan

California to Create Climate Change Adaption Plan

A day after a University of California, Berkeley report predicted that trillions of dollars in state real estate assets are at risk from climate change, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state agencies to draw up an adaption strategy to plan for rising sea levels and other impacts.

Executive Order S-13-08 directs agencies to assess expected impacts and identify the state's most vulnerable areas by early next year. California will ask the National Academy of Sciences to create an expert panel to consult state planning efforts to prepare for rising sea levels. The state will offer interim guidance to agencies on planning decisions for new projects in coastal and floodplain areas, and also study critical planned and existing infrastructure projects threatened by higher sea levels.

"We have to adapt the way we work and plan in order to manage the impacts and challenges that California and our entire planet face from climate change," Gov. Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Given the serious threat of sea level rise to California's water supply, population and our economy, it's critically important that we make sure the state is prepared when heavy rains cause flooding and the potential for sea level rise increases in future years."

The UC Berkeley report estimated that $2.5 trillion in assets was at risk from extreme weather, wildfires and rising sea levels caused by climate change. It predicted the state would eventually spend between $300 million and $3.9 billion annually dealing with the effects. The report also called for mitigation and adaptation planning in the public and private sectors now, arguing that early action would be cheaper than reacting later to climate change impacts.

Friday's executive order is aimed at providing a consistent statewide adaption approach using streamlined information and guidance. Washington, Oregon, Canada and Mexico have expressed interest in coordinating their adaption policies to California's.