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 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?
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.
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.