California and the world’s climate are changing, posing an escalated threat to health, well-being, nature, and property. Extreme weather, rising sea levels, shifting snowpack, among other impacts will touch every part of peoples’ lives in the next century. Planning key actions now will help us lessen impacts and cope with changes. Many aspects of the environment face historic displacement. In government at every level, we must work together to safeguard our state. And ultimately, each and every one of us needs to take steps to reduce our own impacts and increase our resilience in the future.
The Safeguarding California Plan provides policy guidance for state decision makers, and is part of continuing efforts to reduce impacts and prepare for climate risks. This plan, which updates the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, highlights climate risks in nine sectors in California, discusses progress to date, and makes realistic sector-specific recommendations.
California is a leader in the global effort to fight climate change. The state is pursuing a broad, integrated strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build the foundation for a new clean energy economy. While these efforts will reduce the magnitude and impact of climate change, they will not prevent it from occurring. Given the potential impacts and the long-term nature of effective planning, it is only prudent to begin preparing for these impacts. Actions needed to meet these challenges will not be cheap, but will cost far less than taking no action.
Every step that we take today helps save valuable resources in the future. To that end, the plan details 11 current efforts already underway. Right now, more extreme fires, storms, and heat waves are costing lives and property damage. State of the art modeling shows that a single extreme winter storm in California could cost on the order of $725 billion – with total direct property losses of nearly $400 billion and devastating impacts to California’s people, economy and natural resources. The health and fiscal consequences are dire. Climate change poses a threat not just to lives and health, but the financial resources of governments and the insurance industry.
More broadly – and likely more costly – are rising seas that threaten our coast, while disappearing snowpack in the Sierra Nevada presents new challenges for our state’s water management. In the near term, we must take practical, affordable steps to maintain our water, power, and transportation infrastructure, and plan for longer term actions as well.