Louisiana Climate Action Plan

On February 1, 2022, Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force released the state’s first Climate Action Plan. In the plan, the task force notes that “Louisiana is among the most vulnerable states in the United States to the impacts of climate change” and poor air quality, repetitive flooding events, and extreme heat are impacting the state’s ability to be resilient. Although the Climate Action Plan is primarily intended to guide climate mitigation efforts in Louisiana, the task force recommends 28 strategies and 84 actions the state can take to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

In August 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards signed Executive Order Number JBE 2020-18, which created the Climate Initiatives Task Force and required it “to develop strategies and actions to address the causes of climate change and seize the opportunities presented by the energy transition.” In particular, this plan was motivated by the state’s intention to minimize the financial, environmental, health, social, mental, and other myriad costs associated with climate change, especially as the state faces increasingly intense and frequent disaster events on a recurring basis. Starting in November 2020, the task force, which includes a mix of government, private sector, academic, environmental, and community representatives, worked for 15 months to create the plan. 

Although the majority of recommendations in the plan are about actions the state can take to reduce Louisiana’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the plan does include key adaptation aspects. The task force also prioritizes equity in its recommendations. The task force states that the “plan seeks to ensure that the costs of mitigation or adaptation actions do not fall unequally on people currently and historically disadvantaged in Louisiana.” Specifically, in the plan, the task force recognizes that: 

“Louisiana’s low-income communities, communities of color, Indigenous people, and other marginalized residents are being hit especially hard because they are more likely to live in areas vulnerable to extreme weather and are typically less financially able to take on the economic challenges of recovery or relocation. These groups have been excluded from the opportunity to build wealth for generations, are more likely to live and work in overburdened communities, are more likely to live in areas with higher flood risk, and are more likely to experience insufficient or delayed investments in infrastructure and disaster recovery efforts.” (p. 15) 

At the start of the plan, the task force states the 17 fundamental objectives of the plan. The two main adaptation objectives include:

  • Increasing resilience of the built and natural environment to climate change; and 
  • Increasing the resilience of communities to climate change.

In describing these objectives, the task force explains that though reducing greenhouse gas emissions is necessary, adapting to climate change is also crucial since the impacts of climate change are already affecting the state. 

After a discussion about the fundamental objectives, the task force provides recommended strategies and actions that can guide the state to attain the 17 fundamental objectives and divides them into eight categories:  

  • Clean Energy Transition;
  • Industrial Decarbonization;
  • Actively Managed Methane Emissions;
  • Transportation, Development, and the Built Environment;
  • Natural and Working Lands and Wetlands;
  • An Inclusive, Low-Carbon Economy;
  • Collaboration and Partnership to Ensure Successful Implementation; and
  • Accountability and Adaptability to Ensure Lasting Success.

Overall, the recommended actions and strategies to achieve the plan’s fundamental adaptation objectives include increasing access to solar, energy storage, microgrids, and improving energy efficiency. The task force explains that “improving energy efficiency reduces energy demand and emissions and can also make way for other gains that improve resilience to extreme weather events.” Additionally, the task force calls for coordinated land-use planning, smart land-use planning, compact development, and model ordinances to support building resilient communities. Last, the task force provides that “restoring and protecting Louisiana’s coastal wetlands both preserve valuable carbon sinks and maintain a natural buffer between the Gulf of Mexico, tropical weather events, and communities.” 

In more detail, examples of specific adaptation strategies and actions under the Transportation, Development, and the Built Environment category include:

  • STRATEGY 12: Coordinate land use planning to reduce sprawl and support healthy and resilient communities.
    • ACTION 12.1 Create a statewide authority to provide guidance for resilient local land-use practices.
    • ACTION 12.2 Encourage climate-conscious land use planning through local trainings, incentives, tools, and model standards and ordinances.
  • STRATEGY 13: Improve the efficiency and resilience of homes and non-residential buildings.
    • ACTION 13.1 Accelerate the retrofitting of existing residential and commercial buildings to support comprehensive energy efficiency and resilience upgrades.

One example of an adaptation strategy and actions under the Natural Working Lands and Wetlands category includes:

  • STRATEGY 14: Preserve and expand natural lands and urban green spaces to maximize climate mitigation and adaptation goals.
    • ACTION 14.1 Assess and conserve Louisiana’s interior natural lands, prioritizing forested lands, grasslands, floodplains, wetlands and riparian areas.
    • ACTION 14.2 Support the expansion of urban tree canopy and green spaces.

The plan concludes with a section describing next steps the state can take to move the plan into action. The task force acknowledges that there must be a “continual effort to implement, adaptively manage, and better understand climate solutions.” The state intends to update the plan every five years and will require state agencies and others in charge of implementing the plan to submit formal progress reports to the task force every year.

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

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