Science tells us that the Earth’s climate is changing, and human activity is the primary cause of these changes. Climate disruption drives extreme weather events such as coastal storm surges, drought, wildfires, floods and heat waves. As Californians are painfully aware, these events can be devastating. It is imperative that we act to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of our residents, communities and natural resources.
California released its first comprehensive plan for adapting to climate change in 2009, and updated that strategy with the 2014 report Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk. Since 2009, California has experienced several of the most extreme natural events in its recorded history: severe drought, an almost non-existent Sierra Nevada winter snowpack, five of the top 20 largest forest fires ever recorded in the state in terms of acreage burned, and back-to-back years of the hottest average temperatures. According to the California Climate Tracker, the winter average minimum temperature of 2014-15 for the Sierra Nevada region was 32.1 degrees Fahrenheit, the first time this value was above water’s freezing point in 120 years of record-keeping.
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to accumulate and climate disruption grows, such destructive events will become more frequent. The historical record, which once set our expectations for the traditional range of weather and other natural events, is becoming an increasingly unreliable predictor of the conditions we will face in the future.
This document details how California will build the resilience of our residents, communities, and ecosystems to the emerging impacts of climate change. The ten implementation plans presented here represent a master blueprint for executing actions recommended in the 2014 report Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk, as called for in Governor Brown’s April 2015 Executive Order (B-30-15).