Developing a Washington State Climate Change Impacts Response StrategyBy:
March 30, 2010
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Project Summary / Overview
Climate change is expected to have many social, economic, and ecological repercussions for Washington State. Through an executive order, six state agencies have formed a working group to develop a adaptation strategy by December 2011. In addition to creating an adaptation plan, this effort will coordinate the management activities of major state agencies in addressing climate change.
Washington State has a extensive diversity of ecosystems within its borders: marine waters, beaches, estuaries, rainforests, coniferous forests, subalpine meadows, grasslands, riparian areas (freshwater and marine), dunes, and freshwater wetlands among others. The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment outlines impacts of concern to the state, including a full suite of effects like sea level rise, flooding, changes in water and air temperatures, and shoreline erosion, among others. The February 2007 Executive Order No. 07-02 established goals for reducing climate pollution, increasing job opportunities, and reducing spending on foreign/imported oil. Preparation and Adaptation Working Groups (PAWGs) were formed to develop recommendations on climate change in the following sectors: Forestry, Agriculture, Human Health, Coastal/Infrastructure, Water Resources and Quality. Based on recommendations from these groups, Governor Chris Gregoire signed a piece of legislation (E2SSB 5560), which included a directive to create a climate change response strategy to help stakeholders prepare for and adapt to climate change. The 5560 Interagency Working Group, comprised of six state agencies (Ecology, Agriculture, Commerce, Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, and Transportation), has been tasked to develop an initial strategy by December 2011.
One of the first steps taken in this process was hosting two public meetings in November and December 2009. These meetings presented a background on projected climate impacts and an overview of the process, and solicited public input. The 5560 Interagency Working Group also created four Topic Advisory Groups (TAGs) to identify preparation and adaptation strategies and additional research needs. The groups include:
- Built Environment, Infrastructure, and Communities – to focus on strategies relevant to transportation, energy, water, waste, and information infrastructure.
- Human Health and Security – to focus on strategies to address air quality, extreme weather events, public health, and emergency services and planning.
- Ecosystems, Species, and Habitats – to focus on individual species and habitats, and whole ecosystems/ecological systems across the state.
- Natural Resources – to address impacts related to the state’s working lands and waters (e.g., forestry, agriculture, water quality, water resources).
These groups consist of representatives from federal, state, local, and tribal governments, NGOs, and the private sector. TAG representatives met regularly from early 2010 through January 2011, including three large full TAG group meetings. The public was also invited to participate in advisory group meetings.
Project Outcomes and Conclusions
The 5560 Interagency Working Group will pool its resources and expertise to create a climate change impacts response strategy for Washington State. The working group will craft a draft to make available for public comment; a final version will be submitted to the state Legislature by December 2011.