Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
October 18, 2017
A biweekly newsletter of the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative
Climate change has come home to northern California in a way it never has before. In a world of Category 4 hurricanes and rising seas, the wildfires that have ravaged Northern California - Sonoma, Napa, Yuba, Butte, Mendocino County - have hit particularly hard for us. These are our neighbors, friends and families; these are the places we know and love, where we've gathered for birthdays and weddings and holidays; these are place that we believed were safe. To see these communities devastated so suddenly is to see the reality of climate change, closer than ever before. But there are concrete actions that we can take. We can donate and volunteer . We can commit to checking on our neighbors and our elderly during heat waves and emergencies. And local governments can do much, from assessing their vulnerabilities and risks, to updating emergency alerts and evacuation plans - especially for seniors, those with disabilities, and assisted living facilities - that can improve safety and build resilience.
Emergency alerts draw complaints in fast-moving wildfires
Photo: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Fleeing residents from across Northern California wine country, where at least 41 people have died in wildfires that started Sunday, complained that they had no notice from authorities that the blazes were closing in, or the warnings arrived too late. An array of emergency systems is typically used to alert residents of danger: text messages, phone calls, emails and tweets. Authorities say they will review those methods after hearing concerns that some messages never got through. ( AP)
California fires: record hot summer, wet winter created explosive mix
Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
As deadly wildfires sweep through California's wine country, fire management experts are blaming their violent speed on the powerful Diablo winds. But the conditions that made the fires so destructive arose from this summer's record-breaking heat-a kind that experts say will continue to fuel fires across much of the West as the planet warms. Projections that drought and increased temperatures will continue to fuel fires has sparked a debate over how best to address wildfires, especially as they continue to encroach into urban areas in what's known as the urban-wildland interface. ( Link)
The Napa fire is a perfectly normal apocalypse
Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The particularly bad Diablo winds in northern California comes after the end of a drought that left plenty of fuel. Pushed by the wind, fires can throw burning embers a mile ahead. California housing policies are more likely to push single-family houses out on to the edges of communities than encourage the construction of dense city centers. Most wildland firefighters are not trained in structural protection, but urban fire departments are not trained to deal with hundreds of houses burning at the same time. ( Wired)
California's Diablo winds may get worse
Photo: Cindy Yamanaka/The Orange County Register/ via Associated Press
Powerful, hot and dry winds like those that have fanned the deadly wildfires now raging in California are a common occurrence in the state, a result of regional atmospheric patterns that develop in the fall. The winds, known as Diablo winds in Northern California, have their origin in the high desert of the Great Basin of Nevada and parts of Utah, and gets faster, hotter, and drier as they descend. The result is hot, dry winds with speeds that can exceed 70 miles per hour, with winds at 79mph measured in Sonoma County. The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier, or lengthening the high-wind season. ( NYTimes)
Climate change makes land management more urgent than ever
What does adaptation mean for wildfires? We have to manage risk even more aggressively than we have done, and incorporate greater uncertainty. We are likely to need an expansion of the areas considered to be at risk. We should avoid building in the urban-wildland interface and mandate the use of materials that are less likely to catch fire. We can boost attempts to thin woody growth and remove brush. The aspects we need to manage aren't isolated - for instance, the burn scars left by the fires will be prone to landslides in the rainy season and dust storms in the summer. ( Nature)
Climate change could bring much earlier water runoff in Sierra Nevada by century's end
Photo: David Colgan/UCLA
According to new UCLA research, by the end of the 21st century, the midpoint at which half the year's precipitation leaves the mountains as runoff could be an average of 50 days earlier than it is now, and 90 days earlier in some locations. The finding could have serious implications for the state's water infrastructure, which was not designed to handle such a major shift. Reservoirs may not be able to maintain sufficient water supply into the summer, and when reservoirs fill up too quickly, there is a risk of more flooding. The changes could force water managers to find different options for water storage, including groundwater reservoirs. ( UCLA)
Cities taking narrow approach to start adapting to climate change see benefits
Starting small may be best. A new study reveals that cities that begin with a narrow focus linking adaptation to planning for existing natural hazards generally lay a stronger foundation for a more comprehensive approach down the line. Meanwhile, cities that start by tackling the comprehensive range of climate-related impacts may lack the focus needed to robustly address specific climate change impacts. The study notes that starting small could set a clear foundation and make it easier to build momentum. Narrow plans typically made more explicit connections to existing land use, transportation and other plans, and typically include more policies to steer development out of known hazardous areas into safer areas. ( Science Daily)
New biomass plant will boost renewable energy while benefiting forest health
The California Energy Commission approved a $1.5 million grant to demonstrate a containerized biomass-to-energy system in Shasta County as part of the state's effort at creating economic drivers to support renewable energy that also benefits California's forest health crisis. The Berkeley-based All Power Labs, Inc. received the grant award through the Electric Program Investment Charge program to demonstrate a mobile biomass-to-energy project at a mill site in Anderson. The project is designed to generate low-cost renewable energy by processing thousands of tons of forestry waste derived from California's unprecedented tree die-off, while also sequestering carbon. ( CEC)
Highlighting Local Solutions
Turning trash into energy in 12 hours
The UK might soon be powering its lights with energy that comes from the trash. A Danish energy company is working on new machines that sort household trash from recycling, while rapidly breaking down organic materials like food to create power from anaerobic digestion. Dong Energy's plant outside of Manchester, England, will be one of the first to use enzymes on an entire waste stream, and in combination with recycling-sorting technology, reduce landfill waste to zero. The process can help local jurisdictions avoid the need for separate food waste collection systems and could be just what California need for meeting AB 1826 and SB 1383 requirements. The Renescience process starts with a giant claw that crunches into a mountain of trash, then enzymes get to work for 12 hours, creating organic slurry that goes to an anaerobic digester while the remaining materials, now clean and reusable, are sorted for recycling and reuse. ( Bloomberg)
Tools and Resources
A Guide for Public Sector-Resilience Bond Sponsorship
Governments are typically 'insurers of last resort,' but recently, as the frequency and severity of disasters have grown, the gap between insured losses and total economic losses has also grown. As a result, many local, state, and national governments have found themselves in the position of insurers of first resort. This is unsustainable for public entities that are already struggling to meet existing needs with current budgets, let alone fund unpredictable crises. Re:focus Partners' new report highlights the potential of resilience bonds to decrease both financial and physical disaster risks. By partnering with insurance agencies and issuing bonds to fund projects that are targeted at reducing specific vulnerabilities, local governments can make their communities more resilient while saving money. The report explains hazard-specific projects applicable for resilience bonds and outlines potential strategies for partnerships. ( Link)
Upcoming Opportunities
Transformative Climate Communities Program: Planning Grants
The Strategic Growth Council is now accepting applications for Planning Grants to fund planning activities in disadvantaged communities that may be eligible for future Transformative Climate Communities Implementation Grants. Deadline: November 30, 2017. ( Link)
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program - Planning Subapplications for 2017 Winter Storms
The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) invites Planning Subapplications for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding that is available as the result of Presidential Disaster Declarations (DR-4301, DR-4305 and DR4308) for the severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides that affected California in 2017. All counties of the SACOG region are eligible. Planning activities that reduce the effects of future natural disasters are eligible for this funding. Eligible subapplicants include state agencies, local governments, special districts, and some private non-profits. Deadline: January 1, 2018. ( Link)
Third round of Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities funding now open
The California Department of Housing and Community Development in partnership with the Strategic Growth Council is pleased to announce the availability of approximately $255 million in funding for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. ( Link)
Upcoming Events
Climate Changes Children's Health: Protecting Our Future
Thursday, October 19, 10.30-11.30am
Join us for the seventh webinar in the Year of Climate Change and Health series, which will highlight children's sensitivity to the health threats posed by climate change, and will offer opportunities to help this vulnerable population mitigate and adapt to those threats. ( Register)
Integrating Rural and Urban Planning: Working Together to Support California's Diverse Communities
Friday, October 20, 8.30-10.30am
West Sacramento Community Center, 1075 West Capitol Avenue, West Sacramento
The rural areas of California have never been more important to the state's overall economic and social health. As California struggles with drought, groundwater management, climate change, forest health and ­fire prevention, and economic development, our diverse rural regions provide many opportunities for statewide solutions. State and regional planning rarely consider rural issues to the degree urban communities are studied and planned. To successfully address these challenges and bene­fit all residents, policymakers and planners need to understand the interconnections between rural and urban communities and engage with and invest in rural communities to develop strategies and programs that meet their needs. This session will explore tools and opportunities that could strengthen the health and prosperity of rural California and increase statewide sustainability. ( Link)
SEEC Webinar: Clean Transportation Vehicle Technologies
Tuesday, October 24, 10-11am
Join SEEC for an informational webinar on clean transportation to hear from experts about emerging trends in new vehicle technologies. Speakers will provide an overview of transportation electrification, natural gas vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, and the role of municipalities to reduce GHG emissions in the transportation sector. ( Link)
Integrated Decision Support Tool (i-DST) for Life Cycle Cost Assessment of Grey and Green Stormwater Management Infrastructure
Wednesday, October 25, 11am-noon
This presentation will highlight work from teh Colorado School of Mines on the development of a planning-level, integrated decision support tool, i-DST, which contains modules that simulate continuous runoff and water quality, using historical climate data and under different climate scenarios. The developed i-DST will also use a multiple-criteria decision analysis to optimize stormwater infrastructure based on user-defined institutional barriers, and economic, environmental, and societal objectives. ( Register)
Let's Talk Climate: Applied Research and Practical Guidance for Local Climate Engagement
Two part: Tuesday, October 31, 1-2pm, and Tuesday, November 21, 10-11am
In this two-part webinar series, participants will be equipped to communicate effectively on climate change, empowering them to create and deliver compelling messages that engage and motivate a diversity of Americans in the issue. The first session will explore how social movements in America grow and succeed, and how American values shape people's perceptions and attitudes of the climate issue and debate. The second session will provide communications and engagement guidance, including best practices and the latest research and tested messages from ecoAmerica's "Let's Talk Climate" and "15 Steps" guides. ( Register)
SMUD Living Future Project Accelerator
November 2 and November 30, 1-6pm
SMUD invites members of the development community to participate in the SMUD Living Future Project Accelerator, which supports local projects to help them achieve certification under the   International Living Future Institute (ILFI) Living Building Challenge and   Zero Energy Certifications. This framework applies to both new and existing commercial and residential buildings. The goal is to activate more ILFI projects in the region and assist them in moving from concept to certification. The program will kick-off with a series of educational events and tours of leading-edge buildings in the region. In addition, the Project Accelerator will include engagement, technical assistance, and expert coaching; financial assistance with certification fees and documentation; and development of Living Future roadmaps for building types most relevant to the Capital Region. ( Link)
Preparing People for Climate Change in California
January 24-25, 2018  
Join the International Transformational Resilience Coalition for a conference on the urgency, methods, and benefits of applying psychological and psycho-social-spiritual models to build human resilience for climate adversities. From high levels of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), to financial struggles, racism and other forms of inequity, traumatic stress is epidemic today. Climate change will aggravate all of these existing adversities, and add many new ones as well. This conference will show how California can lead the nation in building widespread levels of personal and psycho-social-spiritual resilience for the hardships generated by rising temperatures and produce multiple benefits for individuals, families, communities, and our planet's climate. Early-bird discount rate ends October 15, 2017. ( Link)
Save the date: 2018 New Partners for Smart Growth
February 1-3, 2018, San Francisco, CA
Registration is OPEN for the 17th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in San Francisco, California. Register with the Early-Bird Rate by November 29th. Get involved  in the nation's largest smart growth and sustainability event by becoming a sponsor or a promotional partner.  ( NPSG)
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 Capital Region.

The CRC is a program of the Local Government Commission.