Montana Climate Solutions Plan
In August 2020, the Montana Climate Solutions Council released the state’s first adaptation plan as one part of Montana's overall climate change strategy, the Montana Climate Solutions Plan (“Plan”). Montana has been affected by climate change-related flooding events, drought, and wildfires. The state developed this climate strategy to mitigate and adapt to those effects in response to Executive Order 8-2019. The larger Plan also addresses reducing greenhouse gas emissions, advancing the research necessary to meet the state's climate goals, and meeting the economic and occupational needs of workers in industries transitioning away from the use of fossil fuels.
Governor Steve Bullock issued Executive Order 8-2019 ("EO") on July 1, 2019, which established the Montana Climate Solutions Council ("Council") and had Montana join the U.S. Climate Alliance. The EO directed the Council to develop the Montana Climate Solutions Plan. The Plan includes recommendations for both climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The section of the Plan entitled "Preparing Montanans for Climate Impacts" presents Montana's climate adaptation plan. The section begins with an introduction describing the urgent need for the state to adapt to climate impacts, the importance of basing adaptation plans upon science and local knowledge, and examples of existing adaptation planning throughout Montana. Additionally, the section includes several principles for successful climate adaptation. These guiding principles highlight the importance of local knowledge, community involvement, science-based plans, coordination with related efforts and other jurisdictions, and state funding and support for local adaptation efforts. The section also includes a case study on the development of the Montana Climate Assessment, which informed the Montana Climate Solutions Plan.
Finally, the Plan provides eight recommendations the state can use to adapt to climate impacts and increase resilience across Montana:
- Create the Montana Climate Solutions Network to connect communities and encourage cross-jurisdictional adaptation efforts;
- Increase resilience by coordinating new actions with prior planning (e.g., hazard mitigation, wildfire, drought, and flood plans);
- Alter the state's built environment for climate resilience;
- Preserve Montana's resources that support tourism and outdoor recreation;
- Increase resilience and incentivize land management practices on private lands that increase productivity while minimizing climate risks;
- Increase resilience to wildfires;
- Increase the resilience of wildlife and rangelands; and
- Protect Montana's water quantity and quality.
Each recommendation is followed by additional information that explains the recommendation and its importance. Further, "key strategies" follow each recommendation and identify action items to implement the recommendations, as well as relevant stakeholders and state agencies. For example, as "key strategies" to increase resilience to wildfires, the Plan identifies: researching the connection between wildfires and climate change; addressing wildfire risks through planning and management; continuing forest management techniques that adapt landscapes to fire; planning for fire resilience in the built environment; and protecting air quality from wildfire smoke.
Additionally, the Plan notably highlights the importance of supporting the individual economic resilience of Montana's citizens as the state's economy and workforce transition away from the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel industry has provided many Montanans with well-paying, secure jobs. However, as the fossil fuel industry is declining in the state, no comparable positions have emerged in other sectors. In order to support and ensure justice for displaced workers and communities, the Plan identifies increasing apprenticeship opportunities, integrating career training into the public school curriculum, standardizing wages in up-and-coming industrial sectors, and supporting unionization as "key strategies" to build individual economic resilience.
The remainder of the Plan focuses on climate change mitigation. Specifically, the state’s recommendations for climate mitigation center on ways the state can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize Montana's industries.
Publication Date: August 2020
- Adaptation plan