Houston-Galveston Area, Texas Council Foresight Panel on Environmental Effects Report

The Houston Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) established an expert panel to develop recommendations for local governments to adapt to climate change impacts and the associated environmental effects on the region. This Foresight Panel on Environmental Effects was comprised of experts in climate change and local infrastructure planning. The Panel in turn produced this comprehensive report which reviews current and projected climate impacts and provides specific adaptation strategies. 

In order to focus on the environmental effects most likely to occur in the Houston-Galveston region, the Panel elected to predicate their findings on the climate change scenario used in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 'Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase I.'  This report presents adaptation strategies which local governments can employ to offset projected climate impacts.

In developing its recommendations for the region, the Panel focused primarily on adaptation strategies that would address the goals of protecting human health, property (including infrastructure) and the natural environment. Secondary goals considered include increasing efficiency of operations, reducing the need for vehicular transportation, and reducing urban heat island effect.

Specific recommendations concern management planning such as: implementing water conservation plans, and utilizing tree plantings and green roofs for shading, energy conservation and stormwater detention. Addressing the threat of extreme weather events, the Panel recommends advocating hurricane resistant building standards as the minimum building code standard for new construction in high risk areas, and preserving wetland and riparian zones that provide natural flood protection and improved water quality processes, among others. Further recommendations consider infrastructure development, reinvesting in adaptation planning, resiliency and recovering from severe climate impacts.

The climate impacts prioritized as a basis for these recommendations are summarized early in the report and an extended impacts table is provided in Appendix B.

 

Publication Date: December 2008

Related Organizations:

  • Houston-Galveston Area Council

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  • Adaptation plan

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