Climate Change Research Plan for California

The Climate Change Research Plan presents priorities for the next 3-5 years (from late 2014) for policy-relevant, California-specific climate change research, and determines California’s most critical climate-related research gaps. 

Developed as a collaborative effort by California Action Team (CAT) agencies, the plan synthesizes the knowledge gaps and research needs from various state climate-related plans and strategies. Nearly 50 authors representing 16 State agencies were involved in producing the Plan - an unprecedented effort resulting in the first comprehensive climate change research plan developed for the state.

The report identifies significant research initiatives for agencies to develop as they implement the plan and carry out their own research programs. State agencies will select specific projects according to their established procedures, but will continue to coordinate through the CAT Research Working Group.

Climate risks to California are reviewed by sector, along with a proposed research agenda for the next five years for each. The sectors in this analysis include: agriculture, biodiversity, emergency management, energy, industry, forestry, wetlands, rangelands, ocean and coastal ecosystems, public health, transportation, land use, infrastructure, waste management, and water. 

Major research areas that are discussed in the plan include: monitoring, climate projections, GHG inventory, reducing GHG emissions, preparing for a changing climate, socio-economic effects of climate impacts and policy responses, and synergies of reducing emissions and climate risk. The research needs identify the gaps in knowledge that will help inform the State’s ongoing activities to address climate change without duplicating federal research activities.

In addition to consideration of gaps in individual sectors, the plan identifies cross-cutting research areas that will require integration across sectors and coordinated support from multiple State agencies. Some of the cross-cutting issues addressed are the economics of climate change, extreme weather, ecosystem services, the water-energy food nexus, as well as barriers to adaptation. One of the potential barriers to adaptation discussed is a legal framework that may impede or at least create obstacles to the implementation of technically attractive adaptation options.

The CA’s Climate Action Team Research Working Group's task is to research the impacts of climate change on California; improve research coordination among state departments; identify research gaps and opportunities for collaboration; and provide a forum for discussing future state climate change research priorities. The Working Group will continue to facilitate coordination among agencies and with external groups including federal agencies, the international community, and private entities.

Publication Date: February 2015

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