From Boom to Bust? Climate Risk in the Golden State

James Barba, Fiona Kinniburgh
Posted on: 1/11/2016 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

Posted by

Tera Johnson



Today, California faces a new set of challenges and opportunities in the form of climate change. The state’s vast and varied topography—from the Redwood Coast to the fertile Central Valley, and from the Mojave Desert to the Sierra Nevadas—provides a glimpse into the significant and varied risks the state faces if we stay on our current climate course.

Along the coast, rising sea-levels will likely put billions of dollars of property and infrastructure at risk. Further inland, increasingly warm and dry conditions threaten the productivity of one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. Eastern California, a haven for natural recreation and tourism, will be permanently marked by warming temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns. And across the state, extreme heat will fuel large and costly wildfires, endanger water resources, drive up energy costs, exacerbate air pollution, and threaten human health.

Our findings show that if we stay on our current global emissions pathway, California will likely face multiple and significant economic risks from climate change. However, if policymakers and business leaders act now to reduce emissions and adapt to a changing climate, we can significantly reduce these risks.