Climate Adaptation Priorities for the Western States: Scoping Report
The potential adverse consequences of climate change are many, including a reduction in water quality and quantity; degradation in air quality; loss of plant and animal species, forests, and rangeland; and the erosion of coastlines. Industries such as tourism, skiing, fishing, agriculture, and forestry will be affected. Especially hard hit will be those communities with limited resources to adapt to such changes.Recognizing the need for Western‐specific information on these potential impacts, the Western Governors’ Association adopted the policy resolution, Supporting the Integration of Climate Change Adaptation Science in the West in 2009. The resolution recognizes that a changing climate could seriously impact state and regional economies, public lands, the environment and the health and security of people. Following adoption of this resolution the Governors established a Climate Adaptation Work Group to recommend ways climate sciencecould help inform states’ adaptation planning and related policies.The work group’s first task was to develop this scoping report in an effort to identify state and regional priorities for planning and adapting to a changing climate1. Three specific goals were identified for further discussion:
- foster coordination on adaptation activities, particularly between state and federal efforts;
- identify key science needs for Western states; and
- begin to share smart practices among states.
Achieving these goals will result in a coordinated regional response to climate adaptation. Western Governors have a long track record of working together on issues of mutual concern that produce benefits for their own states and the region. Examples include transmission planning; wildlife management and protection; improved forest health and wildfire management; and drought preparedness and response.The scope and challenge of adapting to climate change and protecting the region’s vital resources is significant and coordinating this regional effort with those at the federal level will be essential. Federal agencies have already instituted a number of climate research and science programs, but states are already on the frontline of responding to climate change. It will be the states implementing many of the on‐the‐ground adaptation efforts, so it is important that states partner with new federal initiatives to provide opportunities to partner with states in adaptation planning and to secure necessary resources to implement adaptation strategies. By working together, Western states can identify collective priority resource areas and information needs, and ensure that new federal “climate services” are responsive to on‐the‐ground needs.In this scoping report, Western Governors call for enhanced cooperation around climate adaptation. This will require sharing resources effectively to support climate science and to implement adaptation strategies. The Climate Adaptation Work Group will continue to engage partners to achieve these goals.