After a year of advocacy from climate change organizations across the country, the federal government released Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment late last year.
The National Climate Assessment is made up of two volumes. The first is a science report - very dry and nearly incomprehensible for local governments. For them, the important part is the second report, which assesses the impacts of climate change on resources and populations around the country.
In late 2017 a strategy session was held in Washington DC by organizations working to protect the National Climate Assessment from the climate deniers in the Trump Administration.
Yes!! And actually we MUST have fun from time to time. It's psychology - our brains are hardwired to help us avoid long-term pain and suffering and to instead seek pleasure and enjoyment. If we want to stay in the fight against climate change, we have to figure out how to enjoy doing it.
Unfortunately, many climate events are depressing. It's the nature of the topic. Those of us who stare down the impacts of climate change on a daily basis know that we are facing a grim future if massive collective action is not taken very soon. But most people are not staring down climate change on a daily basis - and these are the people we need to help take action.
Our team is seeing an increasing number of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) coming from local governments across the nation seeking help building climate resilience. It’s great to see this forward motion for community-based climate resilience!
At the same time, we recognize that in many cases these community leaders and government staff need guidance if they are to include the critical components of adaptation planning and implementation in their Requests for Proposals (RFPs). As a field we are not at the point where there is a credential system and the process of climate resilience planning is still new for local government professionals.
The Climate Ready Communities program provides an assisted do-it-yourself option for small-medium sized communities that don’t have the resources to hire a consultant or the technical capacity to do the planning entirely by themselves.
November 30 marks the completion of the Climate Ready Communities pilot program. We are glad to report that during these first 6 months of operation, our pilot communities have begun their resilience planning processes by utilizing our Annual Support services, website, and other resources alongside the Practical Guide to Building Climate Resilience.
Many of us approached November 6 with bated breath knowing that our ability to address climate change would be affected radically by the results of elections not only for Congress, but also state governorships and legislatures.
It was a good night.
California leads the nation in both requiring climate change adaptation action by local communities as well as supporting local leaders so they can be effective in taking that action. Our team headed to Sacramento for the three day conference hoping to not only share our Climate Ready Communities program, but also to hear what new innovations are being developed in California that could be used elsewhere.
The fires and mudslides in California are confirming what we have known for several years in the adaptation field – people who are already struggling due to low-income, systemic racism, disability, and language barriers are hit the hardest by climate disruption and have a harder time recovering. This fact is putting a fine point on the need to integrate these under-resourced communities into the adaptation planning process so that their needs can be fully met through community action.
Our ClimateWise team recently worked with the United Nations Environment Program North America and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative to coordinate a roundtable discussion between mayors along the river and the insurance industry.
This meeting took place between 23 Mississippi River mayors and leaders from the global and North American insurance industry. Other key stakeholders from federal agencies, foundations, and resilience organizations joined with them to discuss how to reduce vulnerability and build resilience to natural disasters within the Mississippi River corridor.
The federal government’s budget for fiscal year 2018 includes $246 million for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – up from $100 million in 2017. Funding through this program can be used for many different planning and implementation activities, including building climate resilience in communities faced with high risk from changing climate conditions.
Each year FEMA gets funding earmarked by Congress for specific tasks related to emergency management. That money is then distributed to states, tribes, and territories through grant and emergency aid programs, including the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program.
FEMA generally operates on a state by state basis and has since the agency was created by Congress. However, in 2016, we worked with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative to propose to FEMA that they create an option that would allow states to work together across state boundaries. Our goal was to create the opportunity for the ten states in the Mississippi River corridor to work together to build climate resilience along the entire length of the river.
Many local governments, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, face difficult climate resilience challenges with few financial resources or help from state or federal government. Climate resilience planning can be intimidating and overwhelming.
To help these communities, we spent the last 20 months developing our new Climate Ready Communities program to get high quality, affordable help into the hands of local governments and community associations that are working to build climate resilience.
The Climate Ready Communities program includes a free, downloadable, Practical Guide to Climate Resilience Planning. This Guide is based on our 10 years of experience helping communities understand and adapt to changing climate conditions, and the proven framework - Whole Community Resilience – that our team developed during this time.
This framework uses a cross-sector, multi-stakeholder approach that is adaptive over time and creates multiple benefits across the community. Using this framework, communities develop strategies that are ecologically sound and socially equitable while building local capacity to adapt as conditions continue to change.
The Kresge Foundation has released a report “Climate Adaptation: The State of Practice in U.S. Communities” - the result of a two-year process that brought together climate change adaptation leaders from around the country with researchers from Abt Consulting to take a snapshot of adaptation in the U.S.
Through assessing 17 case studies, interviewing 50 thought leaders, and hosting 3 day-long Project Advisory Committee meetings, the research team pulled insights from across the field to try to get a handle on what we are learning from the various ways that adaptation has been tried in different regions in the U.S.