California's Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Created: 3/01/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


Sea level rise, erosion, increased temperatures, and changes in precipitation are among the many climate change impacts expected to affect California’s natural and built environment. In 2009, the California Climate Adaptation Strategy was released.


In November 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-13-08, which called for state agencies to develop a statewide climate change strategy. The 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy is a report that summarizes climate change science, assesses potential risks and vulnerabilities to the state’s resources, and identifies possible solutions to increase California’s resilience to global climate change. Led by the California Natural Resources Agency and the Governor’s Climate Action Team, this strategy was compiled by 12 state agencies and, boards, and commissions. Among the contributors were the Departments of Public Health, Parks and Recreation, Fish and Game, Water Resources, Food and Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry and Fire Protection, and Transportation; California Air Resources Board; Ocean Protection Council; Board of Forestry; and the California Energy Commission.


The strategy provides a set of recommendations to assist state decision makers in developing policies that promote resilience to climate change. These overall recommendations include:

  1. Create a Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel to assess the biggest risks and possible solutions.
  2. Alter the state’s water management by reducing water use by 20 percent by 2020, expanding storage for surface and groundwater, and improving water quality and water supplies.
  3. Reduce new development in areas that may be especially vulnerable to flooding, wildfire, and erosion.
  4. Prepare plans and guidance specific to public health, infrastructure, and habitats in relevant state agencies.
  5. Identify vulnerable habitats and expand protected areas or alter land and water management efforts to minimize impacts.
  6. Invest in expanded climate change research for planning and outreach.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The report will be updated every two years to account for any developments in the implementation of adaptation strategies and advances in climate science.


Last updated March 2010


Gregg, R. M. (2010). California's Climate Change Adaptation Strategy [Case study on a project of California's State Agencies]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated March 2010)

Project Contact(s)

Caltrans manages more than 50,000 miles of California's highway and freeway lanes, provides inter-city rail services, permits more than 400 public-use airports and special-use hospital heliports, and works with local agencies. Caltrans carries out its mission of improving mobility across California with six primary programs: Aeronautics, Highway Transportation, Mass Transportation, Transportation Planning, Administration and the Equipment Service Center.

Climate change is having a profound impact on California water resources, as evidenced by changes in snowpack, sea level, and river flows . These changes are expected to continue in the future and more of our precipitation will likely fall as rain instead of snow. This potential change in weather patterns will exacerbate flood risks and add additional challenges for water supply reliability.

The Council was created pursuant to the California Ocean Protection Act (COPA), which was signed into law in 2004 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The OPC is guided by principles included in COPA:

The California Department of Parks and Recreation manages more than 270 park units, which contain the finest and most diverse collection of natural, cultural, and recreational resources to be found within California. These treasures are as diverse as California: From the last stands of primeval redwood forests to vast expanses of fragile desert; from the lofty Sierra Nevada to the broad sandy beaches of our southern coast; and from the opulence of Hearst Castle to the vestiges of colonial Russia.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains native fish, wildlife, plant species and natural communities for their intrinsic and ecological value and for their use and enjoyment by th public. This includes habitat protection and maintenance in a sufficient amount and quality to ensure the survival of all species and natural communities. The department is also responsible for the diversified use of fish and wildlife including recreational, commercial, scientific and educational uses.


Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Public Health
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Habitat extent
Public health risks
Public safety threats
Sea level rise
Water quality
Water temperature
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Create new refugia / Increase size and amount of protected areas
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Coordinate planning and management
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Effort Stage
In progress

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