Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments

Posted on: 3/21/2010 - Updated on: 8/21/2023

Posted by

Jennie Hoffman


Within a handful of decades, climate in many parts of the United States is expected to be significantly warmer than even the warmest years of the 20th century, increasing the risk of drought, flooding, forest fires, disease, and other impacts across many regions.

Public decision makers have a critical opportunity – and a need – to start preparing today for the impacts of climate change. Preparing for climate change is not a “one size fits all” process, however. Just as the impacts of climate change will vary from place to place, the combination of institutions and legal and political tools available to public decision-makers are unique from region to region. Preparedness actions will need to be tailored to the circumstances of different communities.

Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments is designed to help local, regional, and state governments prepare for climate change by recommending a detailed, easy-to-understand process for climate change preparedness based on familiar resources and tools.

Questions addressed in the guidebook include the following:

  • How do you scope out the problems of climate change across sectors of your community?
  • How do you raise and maintain support to prepare for climate change?
  • Whom should you include on a climate change preparedness team?
  • What are climate change planning areas, and how do you identify them for your community?
  • How do you identify your sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and risk to climate change impacts – i.e., conduct a vulnerability assessment and a risk assessment ?
  • How do identify your climate change priority planning areas?
  • How do you establish a vision and guiding principles for a climate resilient community in these priority planning areas?
  • How do you begin to develop climate change preparedness goals and actions in these priority planning areas?
  • How do you develop a climate change preparedness plan?
  • How do you ensure that you have the right implementation tools to take your preparedness actions?
  • How do you develop measures of resilience to track your progress and update your plans over time, to ensure that your efforts are really making your community more resilient to climate change?

Released in 2007 by the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group, King County Washington, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Initially piloted in the United States, but has since been used in other countries as well.


Local, Regional, and State Governments

Managing Organizations

The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary research group studying the impacts of natural climate variability and global climate change (“global warming”). Research at the CIG considers climate impacts at spatial scales ranging from local communities to the entire western U.S. region, with most work focused on the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Through research and interaction with stakeholders, the CIG works to increase community and ecosystem resilience to fluctuations in climate.