Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
April 6, 2015
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative.
 

 

Two big reductions were announced last week, reflecting the twin paths of climate action. First, the U.S. pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, as part of the United Nations climate negotiations process. Though much more is needed, current pledges (including from the European Union and Russia) already account for 60 percent of global emissions and provide some momentum for reaching a global deal for climate mitigation at the next round of climate talks in December.   

 

Here in California, Governor Jerry Brown announced a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use from 2013 levels. Water agencies will be asked to cut usage from 10 to 35 percent, based on their current conservation efforts and per capita usage levels. As drier conditions may increase due to climate change, these restrictions may not be temporary but reflect a new, water-smart reality for California. Here are some water savings tips from resourceful fellow Californians to help reduce your water footprint.   

News and Research
Risky Business: New report calculates climate change's economic impact for California

Without significant action from policymakers and businesses to improve climate resilience, California could face significant disruptions to its water supply, agricultural productivity, and coastal infrastructure. The Risk Business Project's findings for the Sacramento Valley include an increase in extreme heat days with temperatures above 95F (from 38 today to 54-72 days by mid-century and 80-119 days by 2100). This will in turn increase energy demand (5 to 15 percent by 2100), energy costs (10 to 31 percent by 2100), and heat mortality, while labor productivity will decrease 1 to 2.2 percent. (Link)

Hotter days are bad for the U.S. economy

Examining 40 years of weather and economic data, a new study found that days averaging 77F reduced incomes by $5 per day when compared to days that were about 20 cooler. The paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a county's average economic productivity decreased by 1 percent for every degree Fahrenheit that the average daily temperature exceeds 59F. The increased heat associated with our current emissions scenario is predicted to reduce the U.S. economy by tens of billions of dollars each year. (Huffington Post)

Drought leading to higher electricity costs and more emissions

Photo: Paul Kitagaki Jr.

Californian utilities typically get 15% of their electricity from hydropower - the state's cheapest power source - but the long-term drought has led to a 60 percent drop in production from 2011 to 2014.  Utilities have had to make up the shortfall with power from other sources, such as natural gas or solar, increasing costs by $1.4 billion from 2012 to 2014. Both Roseville Electric and PG&E have already raised electricity rates by a small amount, while SMUD will do the same this April after three years of drawing from a hydro reserve fund.

 

Replacing zero-carbon hydro with natural gas increased GHG emissions for the state in 2012, but a doubling of utility-scale solar capacity from 2013 to 2014 should help to slow down the emissions gain. California now gets 5% of its power from utility-scale solar, and concentrating solar power and solar PV can now make up 83% of the lost hydro capacity. (SacBee, Green Tech Media)

How climate change is worsening California's current drought

The Washington Post offers a clear and concise explanation, with charts and graphics, of how climate change is making this drought worse. (WashPost)

Sacramento Valley could be Silicon Valley of agriculture

Sacramento could become a hub for investment in agricultural and food technology. In the past year, millions of dollars have flowed into food technology startups in the region. Bringing innovation and technology to agriculture could be critical to helping improve resiliency to climate impacts; for example, big data could help provide detailed information on soil moisture and enable smarter, more efficient use of resources. (SacBee)

Ocean acidification threatens fisheries for oysters and other shellfish
Photo: Josh Edelson/ZUMA

A new study in Nature Climate Change warned that 16 out of 23 coastal regions in the US will endure rapid acidification that will make it more difficult for shellfish, crabs, and corals to grow their shells. Ocean acidification has already cost the Pacific Northwest fisheries nearly $110 million. Considering factors such as agricultural runoff and economic dependence, the study identified the 15 U.S. states (including California) that are most vulnerable to ocean acidification. The industry is seeking more research and adaptation strategies, while communities should be aware of their risks so they can diversify their economies and/or shift into other fisheries.  (CBS, Mother Jones)

Can the internet cope with climate change?
Photo: Thinkstock

Far from being an ethereal "cloud", the Internet is starkly physical, reliant on a vast network of tubes, wires, cables, and servers for its operations, and thus making it vulnerable to extreme heat, flooding, and other climate impacts. This January, extreme heat of 112F forced an internet service provider offline for several hours in Perth, Australia, while in 2012 a severe storm took down some of Amazon's servers. Extreme heat is the chief concern, as servers must be kept cool - data centers often spend as much energy on cooling as computation. While key centers such as Silicon Valley and Manhattan have continuity plans in place, smaller cities may not be so prepared. (Slate)

Seven industries most affected by climate change

Climate change impacts threatens almost all economic sectors and regions, but some will face much greater risks. Here are seven of the most vulnerable, including agriculture, the beverage industry (water shortage, price increases for sugar and other inputs), commercial fishing (habitat loss, ocean acidification), winter sports and cold-weather tourism, and Wall Street, located in low-lying, coastal Manhattan. (CNBC)

How Google is helping to monitor signs of climate change in California

The Nature Conservancy is using the Google Trekker - a 40-pound backpack that includes GPS, a computer, and 360 cameras - to monitor climate impacts on the iconic Californian blue oak as well as its habitat. Google runs a loan program through which non-profits, research groups, and universities can apply to borrow the Trekker to track changes in hard-to-reach places. Google will host the images and data. (Verge)

Resources and Tools
Building the Resilient City: An Urban Land Institute Conference Report

From September 4-5, 2014, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) convened several hundred leading real estate, development, finance, planning, and policy professionals to explore strategies for building resilient cities. This report focuses on the conference's key takeaways and also delves deeper into the ideas and projects discussed there to provide a lasting resource and help extend the dialogue on resilience. (Report)

The Climate has Changed - Why bold, low-carbon action makes good business sense

Too many companies are not prepared for climate change and are only focused on the short-term impacts of action. Far-sighted businesses that actively take part in climate action can help influence government policies. A new report from the business-climate coalition We Mean Business explores how bold climate action not only makes good business sense but also opens up new economic opportunities and markets. (Report)

Upcoming Events
Webinar: Integrating Climate Adaptation Efforts across State, Regional, and Local Transportation Agencies

Thursday, April 9, 10:00-11:00am PST

Transportation agencies are exploring measures to adapt to increasing climate disruptions, but efforts are hindered by lack of funding and technical expertise, the need for improved data, and insufficient integration of state and local efforts. This webinar will discuss challenges and opportunities for transportation agencies in addressing climate adaptation, and present a simplified planning framework extracted from a plethora of work nationwide. There will also be a facilitated discussion with leaders of state departments of transportation. (Register)

Webinar: Analysis of California's 2030 GHG emissions reduction targets

Friday, April 10, 11:00am-12:30pm

Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) was commissioned by state agencies to evaluate the feasibility and cost of a range of potential midpoint 2030 targets along the way to reaching the 2050 target of reducing emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels. E3 conducted the analysis with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and will present their findings in this webinar. (Webinar)

Cleaner Air Partnership: Business resiliency - A key to sustaining regional economic vitality

Friday, April 10, 11:30am-1:30pm 

Increasing natural disasters and extreme weather events are presenting risks to the region's economy and the health and safety of its communities. The Business Resiliency Initiative is developing a toolkit of best practices to help small businesses assess vulnerabilities and prepare for potential business disruptions. Please come to the Cleaner Air Partnership Quarterly Luncheon to learn more about this project. (Register)

Urban Land Institute: Building Healthy Places - Health & the Built Environment

Thursday, April 16, 8:30-11:00am

Sacramento County Chambers, 700 H St., Sacramento

The design of the built environment can have a crucial influence on improving public health and well-being. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) just released the Building Healthy Places Toolkit, which includes 21 recommendations for promoting health at the building or project scale. Learn about the critical role of development and land use on healthier people and communities. A panel of experts will discuss current initiatives underway locally and at the state level. (Register)

Sea Level Rise & Coastal Impacts - Social Vulnerability and Community Strengths

Tuesday, April 21, 9:00am-1:00pm

Los Angeles, CA

Those responsible for emergency preparedness and response, climate change adaptation, or long-term resiliency and sustainability must consider one common factor: people. Communities vary significantly in their ability to prepare for, cope with, and respond to climate threats. At this workshop, leading climate experts Dr. Susanne Moser and Dr. Julia Ekstrom will teach you how to identify and incorporate social vulnerability into your planning process. (Register by April 7) 

Communicating about Climate Impacts and Engaging Stakeholders in Solutions

Thursday-Friday, April 30-May 1, 9am-5pm

Tiburon, Calif.

Need help developing effective climate messages for your audiences? Struggling to reach and motivate stakeholders to engage in outreach events? Climate and environmental communications expert Cara Pike from Climate Access will help you develop effective concrete framing and public engagement strategies in support of climate action and sustainability goals. Suggested attendees include planners, scientists, consultants, interpreters, communications staff, and regulatory agency staff. Cost $310. (Registration)

About the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative

The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Sacramento Region.  If you are interested in learning more about the Climate Readiness Collaborative, joining the Collaborative, or being added to the list serve, visit: www.climatereadiness.info/