Assessing Impacts and Developing Adaptation Strategies for Connecticut’s Natural and Built Environments
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The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is engaged in both mitigation and adaptation strategies to reduce the vulnerability of the state’s natural resources to climate change. DEP has taken a lead role in the Adaptation Subcommittee of the Governor’s Steering Committee on Climate Change, which is responsible for developing and presenting adaptation strategies to the State Legislature in late 2010. In addition, DEP provides education and outreach materials through a dedicated climate change website.
The Global Warming Solutions Act (Public Act No. 08-98), adopted in 2008 by the state General Assembly, outlined mitigation goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state; DEP is required to analyze emissions levels and develop a strategy of regulatory policies and actions needed to fulfill the requirements set out in the GWSA. In addition, DEP co-chairs the Adaptation Subcommittee (created by the Governor’s Steering Committee on Climate Change) and provides education and outreach on projected climate change impacts to the state. DEP has based its adaptation actions on the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, which projects that climate change will cause increased temperatures, changes in precipitation, sea level rise, flooding, erosion, loss of biodiversity and habitat, and range shifts throughout Connecticut and the rest of New England.
The Governor’s Steering Committee on Climate Change was created in 2002; the Adaptation Subcommittee was not created until December 2008. This Subcommittee was tasked with assessing projected impacts and developing adaptation strategies for the state in four categories. Comprised of representatives from DEP, The Nature Conservancy, and the Departments of Public Works, Public Health, Transportation, Economic and Community Development, Agriculture, and Emergency and Homeland Security, among others, the Subcommittee created four working groups that met throughout 2009. These groups – Natural Resources and Ecological Habitats, Infrastructure, Agriculture, and Public Health – assessed climate change impacts to each sector and developed adaptation actions that could be taken to reduce vulnerability. Public meetings were also held in December 2009 and January 2010 to provide residents with information on expected impacts to the four different sectors and detail the work of the Subcommittee. A final report (The Impacts of Climate Change on Connecticut Agriculture, Infrastructure, Natural Resources, and Public Health) was released in April 2010 detailing the committee’s assessment of climate impacts and recommendations for potential adaptation measures on the four different sectors. DEP has also created an outreach booklet on climate change adaptation called Facing Our Future. The booklet is available as individual sections on biodiversity, fisheries, forestry, infrastructure, coastal environment, recreation, water resources, and wildlife. Each section describes climate change impacts to each of the aforementioned sectors and provides details on what Connecticut state agencies are doing to take action. DEP has also established a dedicated website for their climate change program along with the state’s Clean Energy Fund: http://ctclimatechange.com. The site directs users to resources to learn more about climate change mitigation and adaptation. It also contains an interactive section in which users can browse for local climate actions in the state related to the following categories: Recycling, Energy, Land Use and Responsible Growth, Transportation, Planning and Measurement, Local Foods, Education, and Adaptation.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The Adaptation Subcommittee generated a final report based on their assessment of climate impacts to Connecticut’s natural resources, agriculture, infrastructure, and public health; the next steps are to fully develop these strategies in a report to the Connecticut Legislature in late 2010. DEP also continues to provide outreach through materials on its website, including fact sheets on Connecticut’s resources and actions being taken to protect these resources from climate change and other stressors.
Project File (s)
Gregg, R. M. (2010). Assessing Impacts and Developing Adaptation Strategies for Connecticut's Natural and Built Environments [Case study on a project of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/assessing-impacts-and-developing-adapt... (Last updated April 2010)