November 14 2013

California’s Environmental Goals and Policy Report Finally Released

Since resuming Governor of California, the Environmental Goals and Policy Report (EGPR) was released under Jerry Brown thirty years behind schedule. The Governor’s Office of Planning & Research typically releases the report every four years, but has not completed drafted attempts since Brown’s last term in 1978.

This report, titled California’s Climate Future, defines targets and indicators aimed at a future scenario faced with the pressures of climate change and a population of fifty million. The broad vision is defined under six policy goals:

  • A strong economy;
  • Thriving urban areas;
  • Prosperous rural regions;
  • A clean environment;
  • Clean and efficient energy system; and
  • Efficient and sound infrastructure.

Chevron Refinery in Richmond, CA

Chevron Refinery in Richmond, CA released 4.5 million metric tons of CO2 in 2010 and was reported as the third highest emitter of Green House Gasses in the state by the California Environmental Protection Agency

Overall, the approach for adaption focuses on Green House Gas (GHG) reduction, investment in preparedness and resilience, and continuing research of climate change risk. Measurement of progress in energy conservation was more detailed, such as a continuation of a 2005 Executive Order by Governor Schwarzenegger targeting an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. However, the challenge of setting clear metrics in land use and transportation is apparent.

These five metrics categories are:

1. Decarbonize the State’s Energy and Transportation Systems: These metrics include goals such as improving air quality, 33% renewable energy generation plus a 20% reduction in water usage per capita by 2020 as well as 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025.

2. Preserve and Steward the State’s Lands and Natural Resources: These were more vague metrics, for example, increasing ecosystem services and biodiversity, promoting green infrastructure, and preserving agricultural lands and forestry.

3. Build Sustainable Regions that Support Healthy, Livable Communities: Investments in sound infrastructure for walking, biking, transportation and public services such as schools and hospitals as well as skill-building, work-force training and education were recommended. The Human Development Index was recommended as a measurement of this element.

4. Build Climate Resilience into All Policies: Actions to support research in advancing tools for a vulnerability assessment of extreme weather events for monitoring of information and projections was offered as well as the development and testing of adaption measures, partnerships and a risk framework were offered for this category.

5. Improve Coordination Between Agencies and Improve Data Availability: These actions range from institutional collaboration, linking of funding opportunities, and cross-department compatibility of shared data, metrics and indicators.

With the ever looming threat of climate change on the horizon and California projected as one of the most at risk states in America, the EGPR is long over-due and needed as an over-arching plan. However, this draft report lacks in more specifics of what is actually needed to face the threats. For example, at what costs, where and what kinds of green infrastructure would help to mitigate sea level rise? Or what is needed in terms of training and facilities to meet the health demands of an increased population during extreme natural disaster events like heat waves or storms?

Sea Level Rise for Berkeley, CA

The green area shows the low-lying area of Berkeley’s Aquatic Park, identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as susceptible to the sea-level rise of global warming conditions.

Aquatic Park of Berkeley, CA

The Berkeley Aquatic Park of the San Francisco East Bay would be a good candidate, among others in California vulnerable to coastal inundation, for detailed projections of green infrastructure expansion, such as additional riparian forestry or aquatic wetlands plant species.

In your area, what planning issues would you like to see detailed for improving resilience and preparedness against emerging climate change conditions?

Credits: Images by Gina Kiani and linked to source. Data linked to source.

Gina Kiani

Gina Kiani is a Graduate student at the University of Southern California and will complete a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology in the Fall of 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Urban Environments. The primary direction of her objectives and pursuits focus on the use of Geographic Information Science (GIS) to facilitate Sustainable Urban Planning. Her interest in GIS concerns how spatial analysis can provide an over-arching context to many of the themes that are relevant to the interpretation of data and information required in efficient decision-making and modeling. With indisputable evidence of anthropogenic induced climate change, she hopes to utilize GIS in areas such as change detection of atmospheric composition and water levels, epidemic outbreaks, deforestation, reforestation, energy and food production etc., to contribute to the continual characterization, monitoring and evaluation of natural resources for sustainability purposes. Her skill-set includes dissecting and performing the critical components of a site suitability analysis, sustainability inventory, spatial analysis, field techniques for GIST, programming and customization, spatial database management, research and dissemination. Her final year of study will include project management and her thesis in GIS for Sustainable Urban Planning. As the Oakland and Berkeley California correspondent for Global Site Plans, she hopes to remain current on relevant development issues and discover emerging GIS strategies while advocating for sustainable planning.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013 at 9:39 am and is filed under Energy, Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “California’s Environmental Goals and Policy Report Finally Released”

  1. Nick Danty Says:

    I was at GIS Day in Berkeley last week and they had a really interesting presentation from US Geological Survey about tsunami evacuation planning and modeling for pedestrians. The area of focus was the Pacific seaboard from Humboldt County up to northern Washington, which the presentation revealed would experience a severe loss of life in the event of a tsunami. A 20-minute time window is all that residents would have in order to reach high ground, many of whom would be on foot. The challenge of navigating through different terrain and elevation was cited as one of the major barriers to survival, as well as the age of residents, many of whom are retirees. This information was used to create a model and subsequent maps that showed many communities as being well outside that 20 minute window. Judging by what has been seen in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, one of these events would annihilate the small coastal towns in northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Tsunami’s aren’t generally what you think of when envisioning California or the Pacific Northwest, but they are a truly valid concern for coastal communities and should be taken into account when developing environmental and municipal plans.

  2. Gina Kiani Says:

    That’s great you took part in Berkeley’s GIS day!!
    The tsunami risks reminds me of an article I read not long ago about the vulnerability of major seismic activity on a pacific coastal fault line along the northwest of North America:
    http://discovermagazine.com/2012/extreme-earth/01-big-one-earthquake-could-devastate-pacific-northwest#.UpY8ABagQts

    Beyond tsunamis, you might also be interested in work done by the Pacific Institute that does a lot of GIS mapping for climate change
    One I find most interesting is their social vulnerability map which like the tsunami analysis you mention above, uses indicators of age, income, location and so on to show who is most vulnerable to the emerging conditions of climate change:
    http://www.pacinst.org/publication/study-maps-social-vulnerability-to-climate-change-in-california-and-identifies-need-for-adaptation-planning/

    In all, I do agree that it is just these types of extreme and emergency climate as well as geologic conditions that need to be a part of state wide policy and goals for preparedness!

    Thank-You Nick for your insight and feedback!!

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