Regional Climate Adaptation Planning Alliance: Report on Climate Change and Planning Frameworks for the Intermountain West

This report, prepared by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, is an outgrowth of the Regional Climate Adaptation Planning Alliance formed by major cities in the western US to develop a common regional approach to adaptation planning. 

The report first lays out a vision for positive future in which communities identify the trends and hazards that threaten quality of life, and take the initiative to respond locally and regionally in building stronger economies and ecosystems. The principles that can guide Alliance members in achieving its vision of resilience are then outlined. 

Moving from the vision toward planning steps, Section 3 elaborates on the following six reasons to engage in climate change adaptation:

- The climate has already changed and future changes are highly certain.

- Climate change poses a threat to existing community priorities and commitments.

- Today’s decisions have long legacies, thereby shaping tomorrow’s vulnerabilities.

- Planning now can save money, while inaction now will lead to higher costs in the future.

- Planning for uncertainty is not new, and can be integrated into current planning frameworks.

- Adaptation has co-benefits for other community priorities.

Section 4 summarizes the current climate change science relevant to the region. It provides the scientific basis for planning and outlines the historic and projected shifts in two primary changing climate conditions - temperature and precipitation.

Section 5 presents key climate change impacts for the region. The section also includes information about the interdependencies of climate change impacts:

- Water resources will be severely impacted by a number of key factors, but the ability to meet consumer demand in multiple sectors could be most threatened by increasing dryness.

- The built environment is most threatened by future increases in flooding, wildfire risk and energy disruptions.

- The report finds that the biggest concern for the public health sector is likely to be the increase in heat-related morbidity and mortality over the coming decades.

Section 6 describes the general approach of climate adaptation planning outlining three different options for local governments: stand-alone adaptation planning, integrated adaptation planning, and sector-specific adaptation planning.

The final section identifies near-term objectives for Alliance activities including: establishing a regular dialogue by conference call or online meeting; creating a resolution articulating the group’s intentions and goals; adoption of the resolution by local governing bodies; and developing an online platform for information-sharing.

Publication Date: August 2011

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