The third session of the workshop focused on the regional reports released as part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment (State of California, 2018), which are intended to translate the assessment’s technical content into more accessible and relevant information for local stakeholders and decision makers. Each of the regional reports were co-authored by technical researchers and representatives from the local community and government, often with representation from California’s Regional Climate Collaboratives.1 The collaboratives help convene and coordinate local activities to build strong networks and support regional adaptation activities and have been critical in galvanizing local actions. Susanne Moser (Susanne Moser Research and Consulting) moderated the session, describing her respect for these boundary-spanning organizations and remarking on their broad coverage across the state. Laura Engeman (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) described her former position leading the San Diego Regional Collaborative as well as activities with other local science translating organizations. Bruce Riordan (Climate Readiness Institute at the University of California, Berkeley) introduced the recently formed Bay Area climate collaborative and emphasized the importance of regional coordination in implementing adaptation solutions. Jonathan Parfrey (Climate Resolve) shared advancements in Los Angeles enabled through its local collaborative and described how the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation helps organize individual collaboratives across the state. Steve Frisch (Sierra Business Council) commented on the unique characteristics and values of the Sierra region compared to more urban areas and briefly introduced how their regional collaborative will use their regional report to develop and implement adaptation projects.
MODERATOR: SUSANNE MOSER, SUSANNE MOSER RESEARCH AND CONSULTING
Moser introduced the session by saying that the regional reports released as part of the Fourth Assessment and the work of California’s regional collaboratives take an important step toward connecting the producers of scientific knowledge with its users. She introduced the four speakers, saying that they draw from experience at regional collaboratives across the state and that each works to build important connections across diverse stakeholders and spanning boundaries across researchers, policy and other decision makers, and the private sector.
1 California’s climate collaboratives are formal organizations formed with no state mandate, with participants spanning public, private, and nonprofit sectors. More information can be found at the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation website at http://www.arccacalifornia.org.
LAURA ENGEMAN, SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY
Engeman described the San Diego Regional Report (Kalansky et al., 2018), highlighting a few of the projected impacts that will be particularly relevant and challenging for adaptation efforts in the region. For example, variability in precipitation was a key takeaway point from the scientific assessment that will have significant implications for water and landscape management, flood risk, and heat adaptation. Engeman noted that their regional report contains a section dedicated to boundary spanning organizations, and these have become central to San Diego’s efforts to understand and adapt to climate change impacts. Examples include the San Diego Regional Collaborative,2 which is mostly composed of local government organizations, as well as the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation3 and the Climate Science Alliance,4 among many others.
Engeman also presented an external contribution to the Fourth Assessment focused on San Diego County Ecosystems, which grew from collaboration between climate scientists, ecologists, and wildlife and habitat specialists who worked together to understand how downscaled climate projections could inform local adaptation efforts (Jennings et al., 2018). She explained that San Diego County covers diverse ecosystems from coasts to high-altitude deserts, and that a changing climate will likely lead to large-scale species migrations and changing ecosystem dynamics. Some species such as desert shrubs have higher tolerance for heat and drought, while others may not be able to manage as well. The report also described the local significance of coastal fog, which may increase with marine layer warming and provide some cooling and precipitation benefits, although these are highly uncertain and are an important area for further research. Similarly, potential changes in the fire season and the Santa Ana winds, which can drive and spread wildfires, are important for local adaptation efforts but require further research, she said.
With the reports published, Engeman described how the focus has now shifted to outreach, translation, dissemination, and implementation through engagements with local decision makers and stakeholders. The Resilient Coastlines Initiative5 works to inform on-the-ground actions to adapt to sea level rise (SLR)—for example, identifying high-risk areas to prioritize investments—and to better communicate through improved graphics. Another activity being planned is the Climate Smart Water Summit that will convene stormwater and water supply managers, public agency leaders, nongovernmental organizations, and climate scientists to develop strategies to manage precipitation variability. The Climate Science Alliance is developing several workshops and engaging regional tribal communities around the latest climate science. Engemen described the value of partnering with artists and graphic designers in developing a public-friendly pocket guide, posters and a coloring book for kids, and modules and activities for schools, aquariums, libraries, and other public organizations that present information from the regional report in easily accessible guidance that makes climate change more tangible to the public. She concluded by describing why state-of-the-science reports are an important foundation for adaptation, saying that there are many stressors such as SLR, drought, and development, but these reports provide a way to combine many perspectives and disciplines to begin to understand the interactions between the individual stressors and provide a holistic understanding to inform on-the-ground efforts.
BRUCE RIORDAN, CLIMATE READINESS INSTITUTE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Riordan began with several examples of scientific research directly informing adaptation actions in the San Francisco Bay Area, all of which are described in their regional report (Ackerly et al., 2018). The region passed a parcel tax with more than 70 percent support to collect $500 million for wetlands restoration based on extensive modeling, empirical data, and social science research to understand both what ecosystem characteristics are
important for a healthy Bay Delta and the values of local voters. Riordan emphasized the importance of regional coordination and action by sharing a second project—the National Science Foundation-funded RISER SF Bay program6—which explores how adaptation efforts in one location or undertaken by one sector can cause cascading impacts to other locations, governance organizations, and infrastructure systems (Figure 4.1). In such tightly interconnected systems and areas, regional coordination is essential to ensure that one jurisdiction’s adaptation efforts do not adversely impact their neighbors. This can be a challenge, as existing governance structures are not set up for this task, said Riordan.
Riordan described the structure and contents of the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Report (Ackerly et al., 2018), which covers locally relevant downscaled climate projections, their impacts to social systems and the built environment, and their impacts on natural resources and managed ecosystems. The climate science section covers topics like extreme heat, loss of Sierra snowpack, wildfires, and SLR, among other threats, but regional stakeholders have been particularly interested in the later chapters exploring how these will impact their supporting natural and infrastructure systems and day-to-day lives. Riordan described the motivation for the regional reports as providing more relevant and engaging information for local governments and managers than the state-wide studies, and explained that the release of the report is the beginning of the process and not the end. The recently formed Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network will help disseminate the report and connect climate scientists with local organizations through a series of webinars, workshops, and conferences. He envisions sustained and ongoing guidance analogous to a climate extension service that works to identify relevant scientific knowledge gaps and facilitates co-production of research to support adaptation decisions. While Riordan is enthusiastic and encouraged by the research and engagements arising from the Fourth Assessment, he closed by saying that these activities alone are insufficient and that there must be sustained funding, governance changes, and new regulations to support adaptation efforts in California. While mitigation efforts have been codified in numerous policies such as renewable portfolio and fuel standards as well as overall emission reduction targets, there have not been parallel requirements for adaptation, which remains largely voluntary.
JONATHAN PARFREY, CLIMATE RESOLVE
Parfrey reflected on the past 2 years of wildfires in California, saying that climate change has moved from an abstract concept for most residents to becoming a tangible force in their daily lives. “Whereas before climate studies suggested a composition, a score, notes on a page, we are now hearing climate change played quite loudly,” he remarked. The Los Angeles Regional Report (Hall et al., 2018) covers an incredibly diverse region with more than 18 million residents across six large counties with many different ecosystems and microclimates. Reinforcing the importance of downscaling climate information to local levels, Parfrey remarked that greater Los Angeles has eight different climate zones—ranging from the desert city of Lancaster to the sub-sea-level city of Wilmington—that could not be differentiated by traditional climate models with a 100 km2 resolution. Specific topical areas covered in the Los Angeles regional report include water, air quality, public health, oceans and coasts, and a chapter on environmental justice, the importance of which cannot be overemphasized in Los Angeles and the state more broadly.
Parfrey briefly described the history of the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC),7 which coordinates the activities of the local academic researchers, the City and County of Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Southern California Association of Governments, and many other organizations active in regional climate change mitigation and adaptation. LARC spans many sectors, including nongovernmental organizations such as Climate Resolve that help facilitate engagement with policy makers and can catalyze local action, as well as local utility partners at the Los Angeles Department of
7 See the University of California, Los Angeles, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability website at http://www.laregionalcollaborative.com/.
Water and Power, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company. Partnerships between these diverse institutions have resulted in greenhouse gas inventories for all 88 local municipalities, scientific studies from local academics to provide a foundation for adaptation plans, and more recently a framework for regional climate action8 and a city-wide resilience plan. LARC is a member of the Alliance for Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation9 (ARCCA), which is a state-wide effort to support growth and development of new collaboratives, knowledge exchange, and peer-to-peer networking for existing climate collaboratives and to provide a unified interface with state policy makers. Through these activities, ARCCA has helped spread climate adaptation efforts across the state and contributed to tangible changes in policy and practice, said Parfrey, reflecting on the history of cool roof policies in Los Angeles. ARCCA has also helped create new regional collaboratives, which now cover the vast majority of the state (Figure 4.2).
STEVE FRISCH, SIERRA BUSINESS COUNCIL
Frisch emphasized the diversity of California, noting that working on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the rural Sierra region is different from the urban context of Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Nonetheless, over the past 10 years a corner has been turned regarding public belief and commitment to addressing climate change, and this is common across the state, he said, echoing earlier comments. Frisch described the Sierra Nevada region, which is approximately 400 miles long and 200 miles wide and is home to more than 60 percent of California’s developed water supply, 50 percent of the biological diversity, and 70 percent of timber production, while having less than 3 percent of the state’s population. In this rural context, organizations like ARCCA and the regional collaborative the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP)10 have played an important role in providing a voice for local communities and have helped connect rural and urban stakeholders around shared values while working toward a common goal. Frisch noted that Sierra CAMP is structured differently from other regional collaboratives in California—specifically, that it is not anchored by a university and has greater representation from the private sector. This in turn impacts its programs and messaging, much of which focuses on the regional economic and business benefits arising from adaptation efforts. For example, communicating the value of preserving the summer and winter recreation economy, which is significant in the area, can engage local policy makers more effectively than environmental advocacy. Sierra CAMP is composed of more than 70 members across multiple sectors, and their primary service is to translate climate science from the local assessment and state guidance documents such as Safeguarding California (California National Resources Agency, 2018) for local decision makers and to aggregate and communicate local goals and values to state and sometimes federal policy makers.
Frisch described several tools that help Sierra CAMP communicate and coordinate regional climate adaptation, including a Sierra-specific climate effects webpage, Cal-Adapt,11 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Explorer,12 and the Sierra Regional Report (Dettinger et al., 2018). Using this information, they start to engage local stakeholders through public information briefings and by convening a small representative working group, conducting a rapid risk assessment of local vulnerabilities, and collecting information resources that are available to inform local action. These activities provide the foundation for an initial quick-start assessment and adaptation project that shows the community that taking action does not have to be a long, onerous process but instead can be approached through smaller, iterative steps. These small successes can lead to larger efforts, said Frisch, and Sierra CAMP has worked with several jurisdictions to fund and develop adaptation plans and implement these with local government staff through planning documents. He described one Sierra CAMP project to redesign and retrofit a 20 MW biomass facility in northern California to provide a private market for forest thinning products, producing a value stream for local economies while simultaneously reducing the cost of Sierra wildfire treatment. A second wildfire adaptation project he shared is working with local businesses to create emergency continuity plans for recovering from catastrophic events, as a quarter of businesses that close during a wildfire never reopen. Frisch closed by sharing several lessons from his experience, emphasizing the importance of building trust with the communities in which he works by understanding local values and interests as well as taking an iterative approach to project development and implementation informed by continuous evaluation.
Moser asked the panelists to share their boldest vision for an effective regional climate collaborative going forward and asked what activities it would pursue and how. Parfrey responded that there needs to be a formal governance structure that acts on a regional basis within California that can supersede local land use decisions—-
12 U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, “Climate Explorer,” modified June 21, 2018, https://toolkit.climate.gov/tools/climate-explorer.
for example, related to coastal development or building in fire-prone wilderness. It is critical to get governance and decision-making structures in place before these highly political decisions have to be made, he said, adding that this could perhaps take the form of a joint-powers authority. Frisch agreed, saying that more urban areas have regional councils of government that could theoretically play this role, however much of the state lacks these councils or mechanisms to coordinate regionally. Riordan said that the Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network seeks to convene and facilitate discussions regarding adaptation investments, although it is not pursuing formal regulatory authorities. Engeman elaborated on the convening role of collaboratives, saying that one of the greatest values provided by the San Diego collaborative to was to provide a consistent and common set of discussions and materials so that local officials were using the same scenarios and terminology to guide their decision making. She added that another important role for collaboratives going forward will be to facilitate demonstration projects that show the return and value of adaptation investments, as the scale of investment necessary through the century will be tremendous.
As members of boundary organizations that connect scientific researchers to practitioners and decision makers, Moser asked the panelists to comment on what scientific research they thought would be necessary over the next 10 years. Engeman responded that the high uncertainty associated with climate projections over the last half of the century remains a serious challenge, particularly because that is when the impacts become severe. She added that there needs to be scientific advancements in separating normal anomalous behavior for the region from extremes driven by climate change, as this will become an important component of public discourse. Riordan commented that, more than advancing any specific research topic, establishing trust and relationships between scientists and local communities would be the most valuable step going forward, as it will allow a nimble response to whatever questions emerge. Frisch identified several specific research needs, including empirical research into the direct impacts of watershed forest management on available water supply; economic and technical analysis on the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation strategies, and how the two categories impact one another; and data that can allow evaluation of equity and social justice on the block and neighborhood scale as opposed to discussing equity as an abstract concept.
Amanda Stevens, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, asked how the various regional collaboratives are funded and how the activities can be sustained. Engeman responded that securing funding is a continual challenge and that there are different approaches taken—for example, a tiered fee structure for members or relying solely on external grants. Parfrey explained that the LARC combines membership dues and government contracts but noted that there is a need for more participation from the private sector, which is currently represented only by local power utilities and could be another source of funding. Frisch said that his organization works through sponsored contracts at a subsidized rate and that it can be challenging to get foundations to sponsor these multipurpose organizations. Related to the question of funding, an audience participant asked how the collaboratives got started, to which Parfrey explained that some collaboratives were started with philanthropic gifts while others were initiated through entrepreneurial dedication of a few local individuals or were housed inside of larger institutions until they gained a sufficient body of activity.
An audience participant asked the panelists to comment on the success of nature-based interventions for mitigation and adaptation and if they were gaining traction in California. Engeman responded from her experience working in SLR, saying that nature-based solutions such as living shorelines are appealing but need to be landscape specific and need to be demonstrated so appropriate metrics for performance can be developed. Understanding the efficacy of nature-based solutions is critical for large investments to be made—for example, compared to engineered solutions with known and measurable performance. Frisch added that the Sierra landscape lends itself well to nature-based solutions, and that he has been pleased with the amount of financial support available to members to finance these strategies despite long-term payback. Riordan noted that the Bay Area regional report elaborates on a number of nature-based solutions described, pointing in particular to a project that identified many distinct shoreline segments and characteristics (called operational landscape units) that are well suited to nature-based solutions, engineered solutions, or a combination of them both.
Ackerly, D., A. Jones, M. Stacey, and B. Riordan. 2018. “San Francisco Bay Area Summary Report.” California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. CCCA4-SUM-2018-005. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/regions/docs/20180827SanFranciscoBayArea.pdf.
California National Resources Agency. 2018. Safeguarding California Plan: 2018 Update, California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy, January 2. http://resources.ca.gov/docs/climate/safeguarding/update2018/safeguarding-california-plan-2018-update.pdf.
Dettinger, M., H. Alpert, J. Battles, J. Kusel, H. Safford, D. Fougeres, C. Knight, et al. 2018. “Sierra Nevada Summary Report.” California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. SUM-CCCA4-2018-004. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/regions/docs/20180827-SierraNevada.pdf.
Hall, A., N. Berg, and K. Reich. 2018. “Los Angeles Summary Report.” California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. SUM-CCCA4-2018-007. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/regions/docs/20180928-LosAngeles.pdf.
Jennings, M., D. Cayan, J. Kalansky, A.D. Pairis, D.M. Lawson, A.D. Syphard, U. Abeysekera, et al. 2018. “San Diego County Ecosystems: Ecological Impacts of Climate Change on a Biodiversity Hotspot.” California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. California Energy Commission. CCCA4-EXT-2018-010. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/techreports/docs/20180827-Biodiversity_CCCA4-EXT-2018-010.pdf.
Kalansky, J., D. Cayan, K. Barba, L. Walsh, K. Brouwer, and D. Boudreau. 2018. “San Diego Summary Report.” California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. SUM-CCCA4-2018-009. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/regions/docs/20180928SanDiego.pdf.
State of California. 2018. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/.
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