This month we are looking at the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington. All are generally progressive states and have embraced climate change both socially and legislatively with policy, funding, and political will. Despite working on climate issues for many years, there is more to do. Fortunately all three are positioned to make real headway.
Lane County, Oregon is located on the western side of Oregon and stretches from the Three Sisters mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It is home to a diverse population in both rural and urban settings. In mid-2020 Beyond Toxics and NAACP Eugene/Springfield established a Climate Equity and Resilience Task Force. Comprised of community representatives and stakeholders who live and work with diverse and underrepresented communities in Lane County. their role was to ensure that the actions developed by the County in their Climate Action Plan were equitable.
This effort provides a unique opportunity to see a successful collaboration between local government and community organizations. Both entities were committed to finding a pathway for community input, insights, and expertise in the County’s formal planning process. Beyond Toxics produced a countywide vulnerability assessment as a starting point. Next came developing meaningful strategies that incorporated community input while also reflecting the realities of Lane County staff and resources.
Our research into climate action in states across the country continues with Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. These 3 neighboring states share similar geography, economy, politics, and culture. Yet they have very different responses to climate change. These differences highlight the need for state-level climate leadership that can adapt and flex to the unique circumstances on the ground.
In Nebraska, the farming community is driving change, fueled by their pain from drought and other extreme weather. In Iowa, there is a growing movement to pressure the legislature to take action and a strong Green Iowa Americorps with real boots on the ground. Illinois has been struggling with corruption in politics and their energy sector for years, but it looks like Governor Pritzker is breaking new ground with comprehensive clean energy legislation.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has recently released an in-depth report on how climate change disproportionally impacts the 4 most socially vulnerable groups people in our communities, as identified by the EPA.
The report reinforces a well-known factor in the field of climate resilience planning, and it provides useful insights and evidence that you can use to drive home the importance of focusing on vulnerable populations in your own community’s climate resilience development.
|EPA Category||EPA Definition|
|Low Income||Individuals living in households with income that is at or below 200% of the poverty level.|
|Minority||Individuals identifying as Black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and/or Hispanic or Latino.|
|No High School Diploma||Individuals ages 25 and older with a maximum educational attainment of less than a high school diploma or equivalent.|
|65 and Older||Individuals ages 65 and older.|
“A new EPA analysis released today shows that the most severe harms from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, and other impacts. EPA’s analysis indicates that racial and ethnic minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the greatest impacts of climate change. Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the United States: A Focus on Six Impact Sectors is one of the most advanced environmental justice studies to date that looks at how projected climate change impacts may be distributed across the American public.”
“The impacts of climate change that we are feeling today, from extreme heat to flooding to severe storms, are expected to get worse, and people least able to prepare and cope are disproportionately exposed,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan
Download the report here: https://www.epa.gov/cira/social-vulnerability-report
We continue our review of climate action in states across the country (read Part 1: NC, WI, MT and Part 2: VT, LA, MI). This month we are highlighting three very different states where Republicans dominate local government: Alabama, Alaska, and Florida. The impression that Republicans aren’t concerned about climate (a legacy of Donald Trump) has recently been re-examined by Pew Research. Their findings show that while this is generally true, there are some Republicans who are very concerned and ready to act.
Alabama’s Republican majority legislature is not addressing climate change, while the small but valiant climate concerned community is trying to talk about the issues in a way that can be heard. Alaska is caught between the state government backers of an economy currently founded on oil and gas, and the communities who are threatened by the rising sea. Florida is also besieged by sea level rise and flooding, and despite a majority of Republicans in charge of government, the state is moving forward decisively, with bipartisan support, to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The Methow Valley in Washington state includes several small towns and unincorporated areas within Okanogan County and has suffered substantial impacts of a changing climate, including increased wildfires and smoke and decreased winter snowpack with faster spring melt cycles. The Methow Valley Citizens Council (MVCC) is a local non-profit that works to protect the Methow Valley’s natural environment and rural character, and within this mission, climate change is a key focus area. In 2018 MVCC engaged a broad set of local stakeholders including 45 local organizations, agencies, and community leaders in a watershed level approach to developing a Climate Action Plan.
This month we are focusing on states that are building both mitigation and adaptation programs (Read about NC, WI, MT). Climate disasters are becoming more frequent and widespread across the entire U.S. Local leaders are struggling with the economic and social impacts from increased wildfires, flooding, sea level rise, drought and more. And these impacts only add to the fear, confusion, and exacerbated injustice in many communities. It is no wonder that so many are looking for ways to adapt and mitigate. Within the US Climate Alliance, there are numerous states that are championing resilience, and doing so with concerted climate action.
We have been working with other nonprofit organizations, adaptation practitioners, and representatives from the federal government to develop a nationwide network of climate resilience services available to all communities. In preparation for this type of system, we are studying what is already happening on the ground across the US. Good news! We’re finding a lot of action underway.
Our Executive Director Tonya Graham recently talked with Doug Parsons at the Adaptation Channel about the importance of climate resilience, lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic, and what local leaders need to be prepared. This conversation was part of the “Solutions Showcase” and highlighted the Climate Ready Communities program and its particular focus on helping small to mid-sized and under-resourced communities build climate resilience.
Cimpatico Studios produces live-stream talk shows about complex global challenges, featuring professionals from around the world who are working on these issues. All of Cimpatico Studios’ episodes are streamed directly to cimpatico.tv, a professional network designed to help professionals share knowledge and coordinate their efforts to improve outcomes of common interest.
In 2020 Cimpatico launched its first channel, the Climate Adaptation Channel, hosted by Doug Parsons.
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.