Louisiana: Addressing Sea-Level Rise

This case study, developed by the Georgetown Climate Center, examines state and local activities in Louisiana to reduce coastal vulnerability from sea level rise, extreme storms, and land subsidence.  It focuses on how the state is prioritizing and designing coastal flood protection and restoration projects in consideration of future sea-level rise through the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.  

In developing the Master Plan, the state developed predictive models of future sea-level rise to determine what flood risk reduction and coastal restoration projects to invest in.  

The case study also explores how the state is helping local governments plan for and take actions to adapt to sea-level rise.  Finally, it discusses local efforts to consider climate change in land-use plans including the Lafourche Parish Comprehensive Resiliency Plan and the City of New Orleans Master Plan.

The case study includes lessons that can learned from Louisiana's adaptation efforts:

  • Having a single state agency lead these efforts has allowed the state to implement an integrated watershed scale approach for reducing flood risks and restoring coastal ecosystems.
  • State-developed data and tools can help local governments prepare for impacts and help the public better understand the risks posed by climate change.
  • Predictive models can help policymakers set priorities for adaptation investments.

This report is part of a series of six case studies that explore how subnational actors (municipalities, states, and special administrative regions) in the United States and China are building resilience to natural hazards, extreme weather, and climate change. These case studies examine efforts to adapt to impacts in three U.S. and three Chinese jurisdictions, including efforts to prepare for: (i) increasing coastal flooding due to more frequent and intense coastal storms and rising sea levels in coastal Louisiana and Shanghai; (ii) increasing water scarcity in Austin, TX, and Beijing; and (iii) increasing heat waves and urban heat islands in Washington, DC, and Hong Kong. These case studies are oriented toward building resilience to the weather and climate related impacts being experienced in each jurisdictions; these actions are not always explicitly linked to climate change, and we do not evaluate the effectiveness or appropriateness of the specific activities undertaken by each jurisdiction.

These case studies were supported by a grant from the Georgetown Environment Initiative and the MacArthur Foundation. Georgetown Climate Center collaborated with Professor Joanna Lewis at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service on this interdisciplinary.

Publication Date: August 19, 2015

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