2022 California Climate Adaptation Strategy

The 2022 California Climate Adaptation Strategy presents six state priorities and relevant actions to increase climate resilience at the state, regional, and local levels. The 2022 Strategy updates the conclusions and innovations put forth in California’s 2021 Climate Adaptation Strategy in an interactive website. The 2022 Strategy includes the six outcome-based priorities outlined in the 2021 Strategy and clearly explains the goals and actions that must be taken to achieve each of those priorities. California’s 2021 Climate Adaptation Strategy provides a framework for adaptation actions that prioritizes the equitable distribution of climate resources. The 2021 Strategy builds on the first strategy developed in 2009 as well as lessons learned from recent sector-specific plans, such as the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy and Climate Action Strategy for Transportation Infrastructure. Per Assembly Bill 1482, California is statutorily required to release an updated climate adaptation strategy every three years.

Rather than being released in a traditional hard copy or PDF report format, the 2022 California Climate Adaptation Strategy is an interactive website to guide and connect sector-based initiatives the state is already taking. To continue to serve as a hub for information on climate resilience, the website will be updated to track progress and incorporate new scientific discoveries. Users can explore the Strategy by priorities or regions in the state. 

The 2022 Strategy focuses on three key elements in its approach to addressing climate change at the state, regional, and local levels:

  1. Set updated, strategic direction and identify outcome-based priorities. 
  2. Unify resilience efforts across all sectors and regions. 
  3. Help all Californians understand and contribute to the state’s climate resilience. 

In the 2022 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, California considers initiatives that prepare and move the state toward a carbon-neutral economy. The Strategy focuses on the adaptation and resilience measures that can be taken to protect Californians from the impacts of climate change, such as severe droughts, historic wildfires, rising sea levels, and record temperatures. When presenting various climate-focused actions, the state prioritizes making communities more resilient while also addressing systemic inequalities. The 2022 Strategy centers around six outcome-based climate resilience priorities to address the impacts of climate change: 

  • Strengthen Protections for Climate-Vulnerable Communities
  • Bolster Public Health and Safety 
  • Build a Climate-Resilient Economy
  • Accelerate Nature-Based Climate Solutions 
  • Make Decisions Based on the Best Available Climate Science
  • Partner and Collaborate to Leverage Resources

This entry will provide an overview of each priority and its specific goals. As a part of each goal, California outlines actions that can be taken to achieve the goal and includes the metrics and timeframe that will be measured and relevant implementation or managing agencies for each goal. To feature a few examples, the end of this entry discusses the quantitative and qualitative metrics used to measure the equity (Priority 1) and nature-based solutions (Priority 4) priorities. 

 

Strengthen Protections for Climate-Vulnerable Communities

To reduce the risks of climate change, the state will aim to improve the resources allocated to and protections for communities to increase their resilience. In particular, the Strategy highlights the importance of increasing the resources available for historically underserved communities. 

The Strategy defines climate vulnerability as “the degree to which natural, built, and human systems are at risk of exposure to climate change impacts.” Experiencing compounding vulnerabilities, the “climate-vulnerable” are disproportionately burdened by climate change. In the Strategy, California commits to supporting the communities that are most vulnerable to climate threats and simultaneously experience physical, social, political, and economic inequities with the following goals:

  • Goal A: Engage with and build capacity in climate-vulnerable communities 
  • Goal B: Improve understanding of climate impacts on California’s communities, including the forces that drive vulnerability 
  • Goal C: Build resilience in climate-vulnerable communities through state programs 

Bolster Public Health and Safety

Climate change affects public health and safety negatively affecting the livelihood of Californians. Climate change has immediate and acute health consequences as well as sustained and long-term repercussions. In addition to health impacts, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, climate change impacts food supply and security, water supply and sanitation, and environmental hazards such as algae blooms. Given the range and severity of climate change-induced health hazards, California identifies several goals to protect against the increasing risks climate change poses to health and safety:  

  • Goal A: Reduce urgent public health and safety risks posed by climate change 
  • Goal B: Consider future climate impacts in governmental planning and investment decisions 
  • Goal C: Improve infrastructure’s climate resilience to protect public health and safety 

Build a Climate-Resilient Economy

A stable economy relies on solid infrastructure, a healthy workforce, and stable supply chains. Each of these economic pillars is impacted by climate change. With an increasing number of and more severe wildfires and droughts, California’s economy is already experiencing the economic instability caused by climate change. Considering the economic impacts of climate change, the Strategy calls for proactive investments to limit the long-term fiscal costs of the climate crisis. The Strategy cites the statistic that every $1.00 invested to reduce these risks avoids at least $6.00 in future costs. 

  • Goal A: Expand economic opportunities for California by building climate resilience
  • Goal B: Deepen understanding of how climate change affects California’s economy 

Accelerate Nature-Based Climate Solutions 

In Executive Order N-82-20, Governor Gavin Newsom prioritized the management of California’s natural resources and land and called for the accelerated use of nature-based solutions. In the Strategy, California commits to implementing multi-benefit, nature-based solutions to combat climate change. California will continue to increase the number of nature-based solutions it implements and do so in a way that increases equity and environmental justice, a core theme of the Strategy.  

  • Goal A: Increase the pace and scale of nature-based climate solutions
  • Goal B: Increase landscape connectivity and establish climate refugia
  • Goal C: Integrate nature-based solutions into relevant infrastructure and investment 
  • Goal D: Accelerate state processes to support the implementation of nature-based climate solutions 

Make Decisions Based on the Best Available Climate Science

To improve its understanding of the impacts of climate change, the state will use the Strategy to aim to invest in actionable science. An evolving scientific understanding of climate change will inform the climate actions taken by California. In pursuit of this science-to-action approach, California will work to continue engaging in partnership-based research that enhances its understanding of the location, timing, and extent of climate impacts. In the Strategy, California establishes its commitment to new and innovative climate research and its application of research findings for adaptation measures: 

  • Goal A: Support actionable climate science 
  • Goal B: Operationalize climate science into decisionmaking

Partner and Collaborate to Leverage Resources

Given the widespread and intersectional impacts of climate change, there is no single agency or entity that is responsible for combatting the climate crisis. Multiple agencies, governments, and nongovernmental entities must partner, coordinate, and collaborate to build climate resilience both in California and across the country. Given the diversity of climate threats, California must leverage the strengths of different groups to properly address each issue through goals, such as: 

  • Goal A: Collaborate to build climate resilience across sectors and regions 
  • Goal B: Increase awareness of climate adaptation and resilience issues

 

Metrics

For each priority, the Strategy includes a range of actions that can be taken to achieve the goal and quantitative and qualitative success metrics identified for each action. California’s metrics present a new way to evaluate progress on climate change by integrating considerations beyond standalone, climate-only considerations. Decisionmakers can incorporate California’s metrics into adaptation and resilience metrics in their own state, regional, and local plans or use the Strategy as a model to develop their own.

As a part of California’s priority to strengthen protections for climate-vulnerable communities, under Goal C, the state intends to use state programs to build resilience in these communities. To do so, the state will strive to fund programs for permanent and interim housing for people who are experiencing homelessness and vulnerable to climate risks. The state will measure its progress by assessing the number of housing units constructed, acquired, or rehabilitated and the number of places with shelters that are located in areas that are not prone to flooding or wildfires.   

To achieve the equity priority, under Goal A, California will work to engage with and build capacity in climate-vulnerable communities. California aims to partner with underserved communities, including tribal communities, to build coastal climate resilience. The state will measure its progress by evaluating the availability and accessibility of multilingual sea-level rise interpretative and educational materials. Cultivating effective partnerships with tribal communities will be measured by also evaluating the inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge and tribal expertise into land and resource management decisions.  

As a part of California’s pursuit of nature-based climate solutions, under Goal A, the state intends to increase the pace and scale of wildfire resistance and forest health projects. The metric for this action item is an increase in forest health treatments to 500,000 acres annually and state prescribed fire treatments up to 100,000 acres annually. 

Under this priority, California also outlines actions to protect, restore, and create coastal wetlands. One metric used to measure these goals is whether the acreage of coastal wetlands increases by 20 percent by 2030 and by 50 percent by 2040. Another metric is the development of a statewide coastal wetland inventory to track protection, restoration, and creation. 

Another goal of this priority is to reconnect aquatic and terrestrial habitats to help fish and wildlife populations endure drought and adapt to climate change. This goal will be measured by identifying and counting the number of fish passage barriers, as determined in the fish passage assessment database, that are removed. The number of terrestrial over/under passes built or retrofitted will also serve as a success metric for this action. 

Publication Date: April 4, 2022

Related Organizations:

  • State of California

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  • Adaptation plan
  • Indicators

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