Is Your State Prepared for Climate Change?

A new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 29 states, almost 60 percent, are not prepared for water threats caused by climate change. Only six of the 36 states facing possible water supply challenges have comprehensive adaptation plans, and only 22 states have formally adopted or established greenhouse (GHG) emissions reduction targets or goals

The report, titled Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning categorizes all 50 states into one of four categories. Category 1 represents states that have the best and most prepared plans, while Category 4 includes the most unprepared states. California, the most populated state in the nation, is one of the nine most prepared states. California stands out even among the group of nine states in Category 1 with a comprehensive climate change preparedness plan, as an NRDC blog post points out. That is a good thing considering that the state’s annual GDP of almost $2 trillion in 2009 ranked it as the eighth-largest economy in the world. California’s over $3.2 trillion of assets are at risk from the impacts of climate change, and annual damages of $7.3 billion to $46.6 billion could result.

“California has been one of the leading states in theU.S.on climate change action,” the NRDC blog post states. In 2005, then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order that established a statewide GHG emissions reduction target of 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by2050. A year later, Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Act into law which capped statewide GHG emissions at 1990 levels by 2020. The act also directs the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to create a scoping plan to achieve the level reduction required by the law. In 2011, ARB adopted a final regulation for a cap and trade program. The first phase of the program goes into effect in 2013, and a second phase begins in 2015.

California is vulnerable to sea level rise with over 1,100 miles of coastline. Almost 85 percent of the state’s population lives in coastal counties. The state’s ocean-dependent economy has an estimated worth of $46 billion a year. A 2009 study by the Pacific Institute estimates that a 100-year flood event after a 4.6 footsea level rise would put at risk 480,000 people and $100 billion worth of property. In addition, major ports in Los Angeles, Oakland and Long Beach are “of significant value to the global economy,” as the report states, and would be at risk from sea level rise.

California is is one of the most prepared states when it comes to sea level rise preparedness. In 2008, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order that called for a California sea level rise assessment report and a state climate adaptation strategy to be developed. In addition, the order directed all state agencies planning construction projects in areas vulnerable to sea level rise to assess the potential of their project’s vulnerability in 2050 and 2100, and reduce the expected risks.

Photo credits: Flickr user, Calsidyrose

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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