Adaptation to Climate Change in the Houston-Galveston Area: Perceptions and Prospects

The objectives of this Capstone project and report from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University were to address the impacts of climate change in the Houston-Galveston area of Texas, as well as the utility of adaptation as a solution to climate impacts. The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) created a panel (the 'Foresight Panel') that examined the impacts of climate change in the Houston-Galveston region. In 2008, this panel produced a report which made recommendations to local governments regarding climate change adaptation strategies - which was utilized as an initial basis for this research. 

This report opens with a general description of the H-GAC, an overview of climate change, and specific hazards for the region.  Details on the impacts of climate change on public infrastructure are outlined - including potential impacts on transportation infrastructure (interstates, bridges and rail) as well as storm water management facilities, and wastewater treatment plants.  The report then reviews federal funding trends for transportation infrastructure in Texas, and mechanisms that may provide support for adaptation solutions. A brief discussion of using a risk assessment as a tool for integration into infrastructure and transportation planning and policy, as well as basic guidelines for conducting a risk assessment are given.

This report also includes a description of the design and implementation of a stakeholder survey and a discussion of the survey findings. The primary objective of the interview process was to determine the level of knowledge and interest in climate change from H-GAC constituents and decision makers, and in particular, their understanding and interest in climate change adaptation. (The report notes that: requests for interviews from the contact list encountered a high refusal rate. The primary reasons given for refusal focused on the general political nature and tensions surrounding climate change as an issue.) 

As a result, the report concludes with the suggestion of repackaging the original report recommendations from the Foresight Panel to be less focused on climate change as an environmental issue and more focused on safety and common sense precautions - to better reach the intended audience. General policy recommendations based on the project research are provided as well.

Publication Date: May 2009

Related Organizations:

  • Texas A&M University

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