Governor Brown Signs Climate Resilience Legislation
Adapted from The Nature Conservancy/California, Climate-Smart Policy Listserve
October 8, 2015
California has passed broad sweeping climate adaptation legislation. Following Governor Brown’s bold Executive Order issued in April (EO B-30-15), the legislature passed three bills aimed at enhancing California’s resilience and protecting its communities and ecosystems from the growing threats posed by climate change.
Earlier this year, the Governor issued an executive order that charted a proactive course for the state to respond to the impacts of climate change by directing state agencies to:
- Update the Safeguarding California Plan – the state climate adaption strategy – to identify how climate change will affect California infrastructure and industry and what actions the state can take to reduce the risks posed by climate change;
- Factor climate change into state agencies’ planning and investment decisions;
- Incorporate climate change impacts into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan;
- Implement measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and,
- Prioritize natural infrastructure in state agencies’ planning and investments.
The package of resilience bills builds on these goals and is an important step in safeguarding California from a changing climate. The bills hit all levels of government: state, regional, and local. They will enhance local climate planning efforts, coordinate statewide adaptation efforts, update the state’s adaptation plans and implement the strategies called for in the plans, and create a clearinghouse for climate research…. Nature and natural infrastructure is an essential part of any program to reduce climate impacts to human and natural communities and is most cost-effective climate adaptation strategy due to its multiple benefits. While providing the same level of protection as gray or hard infrastructure, natural infrastructure also preserves habitat for wildlife, improves water quality, recharges aquifers, and increases surrounding property value.
The bills are summarized below:
Requires cities and counties to include a climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategies in the Safety Element of their County General Plan, beginning January 1, 2017 or upon the next revision of the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Furthermore, it would require the plan to include a set of adaptation and resilience goals, policies, and objectives based on the vulnerability assessment, as well as feasible implementation measures, including the identification of natural infrastructure actions that may be used in adaptation projects. Planning this way would enhance the resiliency of California’s communities to climate change and ensure that local governments are planning early.
Establishes a framework to coordinate climate adaptation efforts across state agencies and departments. AB 1482 requires the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), in coordination with the Strategic Growth Council, to oversee and coordinate state agency actions to adapt to climate change.
The bill further requires CNRA to update the Safeguarding California Plan (SCP) (the state’s climate adaptation strategy) every three years and report back to the Legislature on the implementation of the Plan. The SCP will guide the development of policies and guidelines at the state level to inform planning decisions and ensure that state investments consider climate change impacts, as well as promote the use of natural infrastructure,
when developing physical infrastructure to address adaptation.
Finally, AB 1482 requires the Strategic Growth Council to review and comment on the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan and the State Environmental Goals and Policy Report and coordinate alignment with the strategies and priorities in the SCP.
Fosters climate adaptation planning at the local level by establishing the Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program to be administered by the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to coordinate
state, regional, and local agency
adaptation efforts. SB 246 also requires the Office of Emergency Services, in coordination with the Natural Recourses Agency and OPR, to update the state’s Adaptation Planning Guide (APG) to provide tools and guidance to local governments in implementing climate adaptation and climate resiliency projects.
SB 246 further establishes an advisory council, made up of members with expertise in a variety of sectors, to support the goals of the OPR. Finally, SB 246 requires OPR to establish and maintain an information clearinghouse on adaptation that includes the most current science, projections, models, case studies, white papers, and tools on climate change and adaptation practices.
For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov