by Allayana Darrow of the Ashland Tidings (Read original article here)
After 12 years leading the ClimateWise team at the Geos Institute (creators of Climate Ready Communities), Ashland City Councilor Tonya Graham was recently awarded the Four Generations Gen X Award for her work in climate resilience by Leaders in Energy, a global community action network focused on clean energy and sustainability solutions.
Graham’s contributions to community planning frameworks and “ecologically sound and socially equitable” strategies bolstered her selection, according to Leaders in Energy. She serves as council liaison to the Ashland Climate Policy Commission.
Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that our communities are resilient to the changes of the future. The climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to consider the resilience of our societies and the ways we can adapt to large-scale disruptions. While both crises are daunting, in 2018 the residents of Missoula, MT used the Climate Ready Communities Practical Guide to Building Resilience to begin their climate resilience process. With this “do-it-yourself” approach, Missoula has created a custom strategic plan that promises a safer future for their community.
After two years of planning, Climate Ready Missoula was adopted by both city and county governments. The plan includes a thorough vulnerability assessment and illustrates three alarming climate scenarios based on current climate projections. The urgency of climate change is clearly stated throughout the plan, but it maintains that with immediate action, the community can take meaningful strides towards effective adaptations. In addition, Climate Ready Missoula highlights the importance of inclusivity within the adaptation process that will benefit all sectors of society.
The “Resilience Ecosystem” includes the organizations and individuals who are collectively working to create a climate resilient future in the U.S. The inaugural gathering of leaders in climate resilience happened two years ago in Washington DC, hosted by NOAA, the Climate Resilience Fund, and EcoAdapt.
These gatherings help determine what the climate resilience field needs to move forward. Specifically how the field can become stronger and more capable of delivering the services required as we respond to the changes already underway because of the climate crisis.
Communities across the state of Oregon contacted us following our March call for communities interested in developing climate resilience plans as a part of a cohort. Each member of the cohort will move through the seven steps of our Practical Guide to Building Climate Resilience using an independent process driven by the community’s specific needs. Each will also have access to supplemental content for the Guide and a range of support services as well as the chance to share lessons with and learn from fellow cohort members.
While we’re still working to secure philanthropic funding to help support the cohort, we’re pleased to announce members of the cohort today:
- City of Gresham
- City of Mosier
- City of Sandy
- City of Tigard
- City of Troutdale
- City of Yachats
After a year of advocacy from climate change organizations across the country, the federal government released Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment late last year.
The National Climate Assessment is made up of two volumes. The first is a science report – very dry and nearly incomprehensible for local governments. For them, the important part is the second report, which assesses the impacts of climate change on resources and populations around the country.
In late 2017 a strategy session was held in Washington DC by organizations working to protect the National Climate Assessment from the climate deniers in the Trump Administration.
The science report (Volume I) had been released and the draft of the second volume on effects was out for comment, but President Trump had deliberately chosen not to renew the advisory committee that was guiding it.
Our very real fear was that without the advisory committee in place, the federal government would indefinitely delay the release of the second volume or that it would be released with manipulated information.
Because we use the National Climate Assessment in our work with communities, it was critically important that the second volume be published and that it be credible.
The constant pressure applied to the Trump administration by civic organizations was key to forcing the administration to release an accurate National Climate Assessment Volume II in late 2018.
If you are working on climate change in your community, the information in the National Climate Assessment Volume II may be particularly helpful in building support for local action.
The National Climate Assessment report follows closely on the heels of the special report published by the International Panel on Climate Change. That report issues the dire warning that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 if we are to have any chance at all of heading off the global climate crisis.
We have 11 years. It is a call to action if ever there was one – and a reminder about the importance of the work we are all doing during this very difficult time in human history.
Geos Institute led a working group with the American Society of Adaptation Professionals to develop official comments to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The Committee asked for suggestions for actions it can take now and in the future to move federal climate policy forward. We developed a set of overarching and cross-cutting themes, outlined below. More detailed policy responses can be found in the official comments.
Mainstream climate. Evaluate all federal projects and policies through a climate lens that includes social equity and ecological integrity. ○ Integrate climate considerations into existing agencies and policies to the greatest extent possible. Reform and fill gaps where necessary.
- Prioritize accessible tools for users on the ground within existing programs.
- Coordinate adaptation, mitigation, and multi-hazard interactions to maximize the co-benefits of climate planning.
The Climate Ready Communities team recently joined the excitement at the 4th National Adaptation Forum (NAF), the largest gathering of the climate adaptation community in North America that takes place every 2 years. It’s inspiring to be part of such a vibrant, diverse and motivated group. The numbers are not yet published for 2019, but it definitely felt like the largest attendance yet!
“We have been coming to NAF since its inception, and it is amazing how the conference has matured and changed over time. I remember the first year was focused on models and science. Now we’re talking about equity and inclusion, not just for communities, but for the adaptation field as well. And we’re talking about how to share what is working and not working so we can learn from each other. It’s exciting to be part of such a new and dynamic field.” Marni Koopman
The top themes at NAF2019 included tribal adaption, equitable adaptation, communication and engagement, indicators and monitoring, and actionable climate science, among others. There were over 100 sessions during the 3 day event.
It was standing room only for every single session in the Climate Resilience track at the 2019 National Planning Conference in mid-April. Every single session. Some sessions got so crowded that conference organizers began posting safety notices asking people not to stand in the back or sit on the floor. But the notices were routinely ignored as planners poured into sessions focused on how to integrate climate change considerations into their everyday work for communities of all size.
The popularity of the climate sessions underscores what we are seeing in professional societies across the nation as climate impacts become much more obvious and the need to take action more urgent. Planners are looking for help navigating climate science resources, engaging their elected officials and residents around the issue, and identifying sound investments in climate adaptation for their communities. It was the first time we introduced our soon to be launched Climate Ready Communities program to the planning community, and we found that many planners are in the difficult spot of knowing they need to take action, but not having the expertise to do it alone or the money to hire for consultant help.
The Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) is a cross-sector partnership working to promote climate adaptation and mitigation strategies across the expansive Sierra Nevada region of California. Sierra CAMP, one of seven regional climate collaboratives in the state and a member of the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is a program of Sierra Business Council. Sierra CAMP convenes a diverse group of public, private, and nonprofit entities including the Town of Truckee, U.S. Forest Service Region V, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Ski Industry Association, California Forestry Association, Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, and the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment.