City of Punta Gorda Adaptation Plan

Southwest Florida is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to the consequences of climate change, especially sea level rise and increased hurricane activity and severity. Regardless of the underlying causes of climate change, global glacial melting and expansion of warming oceans are causing sea level rise, although its extent or rate cannot as yet be predicted with certainty.

The City of Punta Gorda is currently experiencing climate change. The natural setting of the City coupled with extensive infrastructure investment in the areas closest to the coast have placed the City at the forefront of geographic areas that will be among the first to suffer the negative effects of a changing climate. Severe tropical storms and hurricanes with increased wind speeds and storm surges have already severely damaged the community. Significant losses of mature mangrove forest, water quality degradation, and barrier island geomorphic changes have already occurred in the adjacent Charlotte Harbor. Longer, more severe dry season droughts coupled with shorter duration wet seasons consisting of higher volume precipitation will generate a pattern of drought and flood impacting both natural and man-made ecosystems. Even in the lowest impact future climate change scenario predictions, the future for the City will include increased climate instability; wetter wet seasons; drier dry seasons; more extreme hot and cold events; increased coastal erosion; continuous sea-level rise; shifts in fauna and flora with reductions in temperate species and expansions of tropical invasive exotics; increasing occurrence of tropical diseases in plants, wildlife and humans; destabilization of aquatic food webs including increased harmful algae blooms; increasing strains upon and costs in infrastructure; and increased uncertainty concerning variable risk assessment with uncertain actuarial futures. In the course of the project we identified 246 climate change management adaptations that could be utilized to address the various vulnerabilities identified for the City.

Currently the City of Punta Gorda is among the most progressive municipalities in the United States with regard to planning for climate change. It has already adopted comprehensive plan language to address the impacts of sea level rise, and seek strategies to combat its effects on the shoreline of the City.

This report identifies the alternative adaptations that could be undertaken to address the identified climate change vulnerabilities for the City of Punta Gorda. These adaptations are presented in the order of prioritized agreement from the public meetings. Only the highest agreement adaptation in each vulnerability area is fully developed for potential implementation. One of the utilities of this approach is that it provides a variety of adaptation options, which the City could select for implementation, adaptive management, and subsequent monitoring.

Voluntary Guidance for States to Incorporate Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans & Other Management Plans

The Climate Change Wildlife Action Plan Guidance Document provides voluntary guidance for state fish and wildlife agencies wanting to better incorporate the impacts of climate change on wildlife and their habitats into Wildlife Action Plans. The approaches and techniques described in this document will also be useful in modifying other wildlife plans (e.g. big game/upland game/migratory bird plans, joint venture implementation plans, national fish habitat action plan, etc.) to address climate change. The document provides an overview of the information currently available on climate change, tools that can be used to plan for and implement climate change adaptation, voluntary guidance and case studies. Climate change is a large and growing threat to all wildlife and natural systems and will also exacerbate many existing threats. Efforts to address climate change should not diminish the immediate need to deal with threats that may be independentof climate change such as habitat loss/fragmentation from development, introduction of invasive species, water pollution and wildlife diseases. Since climate change is a complex and often politically- charged issue, it is understood that the decision to revise Wildlife Action Plans or other plans to address climate change, rests solely with each state fish and wildlife agency.

All states will be required to update their Wildlife Action Plans by 2015, although some states have opted for earlier revisions. Wildlife Action Plans may need to be revised earlier or more frequently than anticipated to account for the accelerating impacts of climate change. In addition climate change legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2009 would require each state to develop a state adaptation strategy and to incorporate that strategy into a revision of the state’s Wildlife Action Plan (similar legislation in the U.S. Senate is being considered). Although revision of Wildlife Action Plans for climate change is not currently required, starting the revision process now can help states prepare for potential climate change funding through federal appropriations in FY10 and/or through funding that may become available if Congress passes comprehensive climate change legislation.

The Guidance Document consists of three major chapters that provide information and resources that could be used to update Wildlife Action Plans to incorporate climate change impacts. Chapter 1 introduces processes, approaches and key concepts that can be used to develop climate change adaptation strategies for fish and wildlife  management. Chapter 2 describes tools, both old and new, that may be useful in developing, implementing and monitoring for these plans. Chapter 3 provides more detail on the process of updating Wildlife Action Plans, summarizes existing guidance and discusses how addressing climate change might affect the plan revision process. The references section and appendices to the document are a source of additional information on climate change.

The Ocean and Climate Change: Tools and Guidelines for Action

The purpose of this report ‘The Ocean and Climate Change – Tools and Guidelines for Action’ is to engage, inform and guide decision makers with regard to the development and implementation of marine and coastal climate change strategies and programmes.Despite its enormous importance in regulating global climate and its sensitivity to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, the ocean continues to get only peripheral attention in global climate research, climate change policy and implementation plans. For example, recent authoritative coverage of climate change in a Nature special issue made little reference to the ocean and no reference to marine biodiversity. This document on ‘The Ocean and Climate Change – Tools and Guidelines for Action’ serves to raise awareness and gives science-based action recommendations relevant to international and national climate change implementation processes.

The document provides an overview of the interactions between the ocean and climate and describes the impacts of climate change on the marine ecosystems and the goods and services they provide human society. Further, it outlines a set of recommendations for marine-related mitigation and adaptation policy and implementation actions.

The potential and limits of the ocean in climate change mitigation strategies is highlighted by sections on marine renewable energy resources, natural marine carbon sequestration, carbon capture and storage and ocean fertilization. The publication further stresses Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) as a means to improve social and ecosystem resilience to global ocean and climate change. Carefully designed marine protected areas and risk reduction management are included as means to reduce vulnerability of social and natural systems to future change.

Adapting to Climate Change in Ontario: Towards the Design and Implementation of a Strategy and Action Plan

Section 1 elaborates upon the nature of climate change and the adaptation imperative in detail. Listed are examples of the impacts to be expected in various sectors of the economy, along with the most recent projections of climate developed from climate models by the Canadian Climate Change Scenarios Network. It is emphasized that both adaptation and mitigation are required to respond to climate change and that adaptation by itself will not suffice. Current limits and constraints on adaptation are briefly described. It is concluded that adaptation is so pervasive in scope, and affects the Ontario economy, society and environment in such diverse ways that a broad integrated approach is required. Examples of adaptation actions by other provinces and territories are contained within this section to describe how other governments are meeting the challenge.

Section 2 describes the strategic goals and specific recommendations from the Panel to inform both the development of a strategy and an action plan. On the basis of evidence from dialogue with ministries, authors have identified the main components of a potential strategy, as well as important ingredients for an action plan which can be quickly initiated. Well planned action is of the essence in adapting to climate change. In the process of preparing longer-term action plans, the government should take the opportunity to engage the private sector and citizens in dialogue about the challenges. The government must assume responsibility for leading the strategy and actions and it will be broadly inclusive of all the economic sectors and social communities and regions of the province – and it seems that this leadership will be forthcoming.

The overall objective for the Government of Ontario is to build a climate-resilient province which will adapt well to the impacts of climate change and its challenges.

Confronting Climate Change: An Early Analysis of Water and Wastewater Adaptation Costs

The effects of climate change are already impacting our water and wastewater utilities- those entities entrusted with supplying our communities, our industries, and our natural environment with essential water management services. 

Water is the most important natural resource necessary for stable economic growth, as well as for human and environmental health.  Our nation's water and wastewater infrastructure enables our prosperity by delivering clean water to our homes and industires and by transporting wastewater for treatment.  Our increasing undestanding of climate change impacts on water and wastewater suggest that significant adaptation measures will be required for our infrastructure to continue protecting public health and the environment.

This assessment has three objectives:

  • to characterize the impacts of climate change on drinking water and wastewater services in the United States through 2050, based on GHG scenarios and regional projections of climate change effects;
  • to help policy makers and the water and wastewater sector begin to understand the challenges of ensuring that reliable water and wastewater services continue to be available in the face of a changing climate; and
  • to provide early cost estimates so that policies can be developed that address these challenges and planning by utulities can begin.

The time period was selected because it represents the timeframe within which we best understand climate change effects and their impacts on drinking water and wastewater utilities, and it is consistent with the typical planning horizon of many utilities.  This assessment indicates that the cost to utilities could range from $448 billion to $944 billion.

Climate Change Impacts to Water Availability in Alaska Summary

Alaska is already showing evidence of climate change. Increases in temperature and changes in precipitation have had profound effects on regional hydrology, including shrinking wetlands, glacier and polar sea ice recession, permafrost melting, and an increase in fire frequency and intensity across the landscape as a result of increased drought and thunderstorms. Continuation of these trends will likely lead to further changes in the hydrologic cycle, with significant implications for the people, places, and wildlife that depend on Alaska’s water resources.

Incorporating Climate Change into the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership

Location

81 STHY 1
04101 Portland , ME
United States
43° 39' 13.9608" N, 70° 15' 44.334" W
Maine US
Summary: 

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) as one of eight projects to support as part of the Climate Ready Estuaries Program, whose goal is to build local adaptive capacity to climate change. Through a technical assistance grant, CBEP is planning to develop an outreach plan that will target local decision makers and stakeholders and help inform the development of a climate change adaptation plan for the Casco Bay estuary.

Solutions to the Rising Costs of Fighting Fires in the Wildland-Urban Interface

A principal reason for the escalating cost of wildland firefighting is the growing number of homes being built in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). This fact has been quantified and demonstrated repeatedly, yet most proposed solutions to hold down or reduce fire suppression costs fail to address it. Suggested fixes—such as increased coordination among agencies and educating homeowners how to live more appropriately near fire-prone lands—are focused on increasing the safety of existing residences in the WUI, but lack the means to control future costs and may unintentionally have the effect of increasing residential growth and subsequent fire suppression costs near fire-prone lands. This paper offers ten ideas for controlling the rising cost of protecting homes from wildland fires. They are:

  1. Publish maps identifying areas with high probability of wildland fires.
  2. Increase awareness of the financial consequences of home building in fire-prone areas.
  3. Redirect federal aid towards land use planning on private lands.
  4. Add incentives for counties to sign firefighting cost share agreements.
  5. Purchase or obtain easements on fire-prone lands.
  6. Create a national fire insurance and mortgage program to apply lessons from efforts to prevent development in floodplains.
  7. Allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums in fire-prone areas.
  8. Limit development in the wildland-urban interface with local zoning ordinances.
  9. Eliminate home interest mortgage deductions for new homes in the wildland-urban interface.
  10. Induce federal land managers to shift more of the cost of wildland firefighting to local governments by reducing their firefighting budgets.

The pros and cons of each idea are explored, along with a discussion of the likelihood that each idea will succeed in controlling future firefighting costs.

To succeed, several ideas will have to be applied concurrently, and they will require government support and direction. The tremendous scale of the problem (in terms of acres, ownership complexity and cost) means that federal government will have to play a role. The involvement from Congress and the federal agencies is also important because the current system of incentives is part of the problem. By spending large sums every year to protect homes from wildfires, the federal government is subsidizing the true cost of development. Without financial disincentives to building homes on dangerous, fire-prone lands, the problem will get worse.

 At the least, the proposed solutions presented here should begin a public dialogue on the need for policies that will decrease the future cost of protecting homes from wildfires. At the best, the ideas offer an array of options for the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Congress to explore and adopt.

Comprehensive Southwest Florida/Charlotte Harbor Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

This study examines the current climate and ongoing climate change in southwest Florida along with five future scenarios of climate change into the year 2200. These scenarios include:1) a condition that involves a future in which mitigative actions are undertaken to reduce the human influence on climate change2) a 90% probable future predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change3) a 50% probable future predicted by IPCC,4) a 5% probable future predicted by the IPCC, and5) a ―very worst‖ future in which no actions are taken to address climate change.

This fifth scenario also corresponds with some of the other worst case scenarios postulated by scientists who think the IPCC estimations are underestimated.

This report also assesses significant potential climate changes in air and water and the effects of those changes on climate stability, sea level, hydrology, geomorphology, natural habitats and species, land use changes, economy, human health, human infrastructure, and variable risk projections, in southwest Florida. Among the consequences of climate change that threaten estuarine ecosystem services, the most serious involve interactions between climate-dependent processes and human responses to those climate changes.

Climate Change and Extreme Weather: Designing Adaptation Policy

From the Introduction:

In December 2006, British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island were struck by a series of storms more powerful than any experienced in the province’s history. Hurricane-force winds felled thousands of trees, blocking transportation routes and bringing down power transmission lines, interrupting electricity to nearly 200,000 households.An early damage assessment suggested insured losses associated with the storm could reach $80 million, and the City of Vancouver faced the roughly $2 million task of cleaning up thousands of broken trees in Stanley Park. The extensive damage raised questions about the region’s capacity to cope with extreme weather, and prompted journalists and affected residents to offer recommendations about how vulnerability to future storms could be reduced.

Extreme weather events like the 2006 B.C. windstorms periodically illustrate the susceptibility of Canadian communities to climate-related stress. All regions of Canada experience extreme weather events of one type or another, and it is likely that they will increase in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change. The risk these hazards pose demands a purposive course of action to reduce the vulnerability of communities and to strengthen their capacity to cope with weather-related impacts. Public policies designed to achieve these goals can be aggregated under the rubric of climate adaptation. In this report, we seek to contribute to the development of Canadian climate adaptation policies targeted at extreme weather events. Our specific objective is to map out a course of action to address climate change and extreme weather at the community level, and to assess how the federal and provincial governments can facilitate and support these local actions. The report begins by examining climate change and its relationship with extreme weather in Canada. It then develops a policy framework, which identifies goals, principles and instruments associated with effective climate adaptation policy. Finally, the report analyzes two sectors that are particularly sensitive to extreme weather events—emergency management and infrastructure—and identifies specific adaptation actions in these areas. Throughout the report, recommendations are offered to support the design and implementation of climate adaptation policy.