Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
September 7, 2017
A biweekly newsletter of the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative
The scale of the suffering unleashed by Hurricane Harvey is heartbreaking - and frustrating, for some of this catastrophe is almost certainly manmade. Like many Texas metropolitan areas, Houston lacks planning and regulations for development, resulting in sprawling development and paved-over wetlands and bayous. Meanwhile, aging stormwater-management infrastructure could not withstand the torrential, unprecedented storm, leaving tens of thousands of families to risk their lives, health, and homes. With a new record for rainfall in the US and an economic impact estimated between $70 and $90 billion, Harvey could be a turning point in how we think about urban planning, stormwater management, and disaster response. Almost no city today could have emerged unscathed from a storm of such ferocity; we need to make sure that tomorrow's cities are better planned and protected.  
How climate change worsened Hurricane Harvey
Photo: Getty/Joe Raedle
Climate scientist Michael Mann explains the factors that exacerbated Harvey's severity, including sea level rise, warmer water and air temperatures. This translates into stronger winds, higher storm surge, and potentially, the way it stalled over Houston, unleashing record-breaking levels of rainfall over several days. (Guardian; peer-reviewed paper in Nature)
Houston's flood is a design problem
Photo: Reuters/Richard Carson
Accounting for a 100-year, 500-year, or "million-year" flood, as some are calling Harvey, is difficult, costly, and "almost impossible". Instead, the hope is to design communities such that when they flood, they can withstand the ill effects and support effective evacuations. Aside from reducing impervious surfaces, another approach is for cities to mimic rural hydrology as much as possible, reduce the velocity of water when it is channelized, and find new uses for it in place. This can be done by collecting water in cisterns for processing and reuse, adding vegetation, and building local conveyance systems for reclaimed groundwater. ( The Atlantic)
Cities should go Dutch for flood resilience
Many American cities are characterized by low-lying, sprawling exburbs, but flood-control measures like levees are more feasible and cost-effective for denser cities. Compact, vertical cities are easier to defend against flood risks; building the same levee around a suburban subdivision would drive up construction costs and home prices. Similarly, evacuating up - into the floors above - can be safer than evacuating out via congested highways that could turn into flood zones. This requires, however, that cities can ensure that critical services like electricity and drinking water can be maintained. (Grist)
As flood waters rise, is urban sprawl as much to blame as climate change?
Photo: Barcroft Images/Xinjua
Houston may have broken the US rainfall records, but lost in the dramatic worldwide coverage of Texas has been the plight of tens of millions of people across Asia and Africa who are also counting the human cost of equally intense storms in which months of rain has fallen in just a few hours. One of the heaviest monsoons in the past 30 years has swamped India, Pakistan, and other South Asian countries, killing 1,200 people and affecting more than 40 million people. Unprecedented rainfall and mudslides have affected 21 countries in west and central Africa, including a mudslide that killed 1,000 in Sierra Leone. Worldwide, urban sprawl paving over wetlands and marshes, a growing infrastructure gap, and climate change-exacerbated storms have combined to result in deadly floods similar in nature. Urban researchers predict that many of the world's largest cities can expect to be flooded in the future. ( Guardian)
Harvey's damage in the heart of oil country creates quandary for Congress
Photo: Getty/Joe Raedle
Hurricane Harvey will force a new reckoning over major energy and climate policy questions. The immediate priorities-rescue operations, disaster assistance, flood insurance, and the like-will be followed by broader questions involving the vulnerability of infrastructure, the energy industry and communities to extreme weather, and the need to balance climate mitigation with adaptation. ( Link)
Climate change spells extinction for pikas of Lake Tahoe
Photo: Jen Joynt
One of north Lake Tahoe's cutest residents, the American pika, has disappeared. UC Santa Cruz researchers have discovered an extinction spanning from Tahoe City to Truckee, the largest pika die-off in the modern era. Pikas are squeaky rabbit relatives about the size of a hamster. All summer long they hop from talus fields to meadows, carrying bouquets of wildflowers and grass to their high altitude homes storing up enough food for winter. Scientists predict habitat that's suitable for pikas will decrease by 97 percent in the Lake Tahoe region by 2050, which will leave a void in the food chain. ( SF Chronicle)
Highlighting Local Solutions
PG&E awards $200,000 in grants to support local climate change resilience planning
PG&E announced the first two recipients of its Better Together Resilient Communities grants - a program created to support local initiatives to build greater climate resilience throughout Northern and Central California.  PG&E will award $100,000 each to the University of California, Merced, and the Karuk Tribe of California for projects designed to help communities prevent and prepare for increasing wildfire risk through building healthy and resilient forests and watersheds. (Link)
First-of- its-kind policy insures coral reefs for climate resilience
Photo: Matteo Colombo
In the pristine waters off Cancún and Tulum, Swiss Re AG is preparing an insurance policy for a stretch of the Mesoamerican Reef - perhaps the first time an insurer has covered a natural structure. The policyholders will be the beachfront hotels that benefit from the storm protection offered by that reef. Swiss Re says its plan will give hotel owners quick payouts after a storm, which they can use to repair both their beaches and any damage to the reef itself. The Nature Conservancy estimates that for every meter of lost reef height, the potential economic damage from a major hurricane triples. The insurance also gives hotel owners more reason to help keep the reef healthy to continue blunting the force of storms - if not, they will pay for it through their insurance policy. ( Bloomberg )
Denver residents to vote on green roofs in November
Photo: Denver Post/RJ Sangosti
A citizen-led green roof ballot initiative for Denver has gained enough signatures to make the November ballot. The ballot measure would require most new buildings of at least 25,000 square feet to have gardens, solar panels, or other green roof components for at least 20 percent of their roofs' surface, depending on a building's size. ( Link )
Tools and Resources
Take Action for Public Safety: CRC Factsheet on Public Safety and Preparedness
The CRC is developing tailored educational materials to frame climate resiliency for elected officials and other local leaders within the capital region, and we have completed three of five factsheets! Our most recent one on public safety and preparedness is especially timely given Hurricane Harvey and other natural disaster events occurring nationally and abroad. Our two other fact sheets, focused on resilient infrastructure and healthy communities, are also available on our website. We encourage you to share these factsheets widely throughout the region. (Public Safety, Health, Infrastructure)
Cal-Adapt 2.0 is now live!
The new Cal-Adapt 2.0 dramatically expands the capacities of the initial version of Cal-Adapt. Updates include new climate projections, more powerful visualizations, including the inclusion of CalEnviroScreen 2.0 scores and user-defined boundaries, improved access to primary data, a new public API, and connections with supporting resources. Originally released in 2011, Cal-Adapt provides public access to the wealth of climate data and information produced by California's scientific community to improve understanding how climate change might affect California at the local level. ( Cal-Adapt)
Advancing Climate Justice in California
This new report from the Climate Justice Working Group contains a set of guiding principles and recommendations for advancing equitable climate change adaptation in California. The working group also released results from a poll regarding perceptions of climate change among California voters of color. ( Link)
Upcoming Opportunities
ZNE Technical Assistance
New Buildings Institute (NBI) is seeking 2-3 cities to receive technical assistance on zero net energy (ZNE) implementation by the end of the calendar year. NBI offers a variety of customized services to assist jurisdictions, including supporting ZNE code and policy, strategic planning, project charrette facilitation, policy analysis, staff training, and building portfolio assessment. Contact Webly Bowles at for more information.
Health Soils Incentives Program and Demonstration Projects
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP). The HSP Incentives Program will award $3.75 million to provide financial assistance for implementation of agricultural management practices that sequester soil carbon and reduce GHG emissions. The HSP Demonstration Projects will award $3 million for projects that demonstrate and monitor specific management practices in agriculture that sequester carbon, improve soil health, and reduce atmospheric GHGs. Both programs require that incentivized practices be implemented for a total of three years, with the third year of project costs required as matching funds. Deadline: September 19, 5pm. ( Link)
2018 Climate Leadership Award
The application period for 2018 Climate Leadership Awards is now open! Award categories include Organizational Leadership, Individual Leadership, Supply Chain Leadership, Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management, and Innovative Partnership. Deadline: September 26. ( EPA)
The 2017 Mayors Challenge: An Innovation Platform for America's Mayors
Part of Bloomberg's American Cities Initiative, this nationwide competition will help hundreds of cities develop, test, and implement bold solutions to emerging challenges. Apply by October 20, and as many as 35 "Champion Cities" will then win up to $100,000 each to test and refine their ideas. Five Mayors Challenge Winners will be selected based on the idea's vision for tackling an urgent challenge, potential for impact and successful implementation, and potential to spread to other cities. One city will win the $5 million grand prize; four others will receive $1 million implementation awards. ( Learn more and apply)
National Science Foundation Environmental Sustainability Program
This program aims to promote sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural systems that provide ecological services vital for human survival. All proposed research should be driven by engineering principles, and be presented explicitly in an environmental sustainability context. Proposal window: October 1 - October 20, 2017. ( NSF)
Upcoming Events
Cal-Adapt 2.0: User Needs Assessment Workshop
Tuesday, September 12, 9am-noon
California Energy Commission, Imbrecht Hearing Room, 1516 9th St, Sacramento
UC Berkeley's Geospatial Innovation Facility will offer a tour of the new features and capabilities of Cal-Adapt 2.0 and seek feedback on how Cal-Adapt, with its vastly expanded functionality and power, can serve electricity stakeholder needs through custom tools, visualizations, or other features. The workshop is part of an ongoing EPIC grant to enhance Cal-Adapt and therefore focuses on electricity sector needs, although we do envision additional opportunities to weigh in on how Cal-Adapt may serve other needs in the future. ( Link )
ARCCA Learning Session: General Plan Guidelines Update
Tuesday, September 12, 1-2.30pm
The Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) recently completed the first comprehensive update to the   General Plan Guidelines (GPG) since 2003. Legislative changes, guidance documents, a data mapping tool, and additional resources have been incorporated into the new Guidelines. This webinar will provide an overview of the new GPG, with a focus on adaptation, GHG emissions reduction, and environmental justice. Presenters include Michael McCormick, Senior Planner, and Elizabeth Baca, Senior Health Advisor, both with OPR. ( Link)
Webinar: Tools and Resources for Evaluating Collective Impact
Wednesday, September 13, 10-11am
As part of the ongoing rollout of Keeping Our Promise: A Guide for Evaluation in Sacramento's Promise Zone, the UC Davis Center for Regional Change and Converge Consulting are hosting a webinar to explore the tools and recommendations provided in the evaluation guidebook. Whether you're directly involved in the Promise Zone or supporting another place-based initiative, this training will provide useful resources that can be adapted to your work. Please join us to learn more about how this guidebook can support your efforts. ( Register)
Webinar: Practical Tools and Resources for Climate Change Planning in the Sierra
Wednesday, September 20, 10-11.30am
Extreme weather events, such as the atmospheric river events that shook the Sierra last winter and the extreme drought conditions that plagued all of California this past decade, have the potential to damage public infrastructure, services and resources, disrupt economic activity, and endanger public safety and health. What can our communities do to prepare for the adverse weather events and variable conditions forecasted to occur in the Sierra Nevada? This webinar is designed to give participants a broad overview of the types of current and projected weather changes; a brief look at the types of adaptation strategies communities are already employing; and an overview of new climate planning tools and resources. ( Link)
Natural Infrastructure for Resilient Communities
Wednesday, September 20, 10-11.30am
This interactive webinar highlights ecological approaches to address mounting risks from climate-related natural hazards. We will discuss emerging evidence of how well-managed ecosystems (e.g. floodplains, beaches & dunes, tidal marshes, etc.), native vegetation, ecosystem engineers, and nature-based features can help reduce disaster risks in ways that sustain people and nature. Participants will learn basic concepts of natural infrastructure along with best practices and incentives for implementation, examine several case studies of natural infrastructure in practice, and become familiar with available resources and opportunities for deeper exploration of the topic. Cost: $195 before September 19, $245 standard. ( Register)
Webinar: Making a Big Impact in Sustainability Science with Big Data
Thursday, September 21, 10.15-11.30am PDT
Issues in sustainability science are increasingly being addressed using "big data" and data analytics. Data-rich modeling techniques can improve systems thinking and contribute to decision making, greener supply chains and optimization of business operations. This webinar demonstrates the application of computational modelling of natural and social processes to identify patterns, trends, and associations. The webinar will be organized around five case studies focused on integrating multi-scale and multi-source data and applying spatial statistical techniques, artificial intelligence algorithms, and systems modeling to derive business insights and strategies. The case studies include behavior and EV drivers, flood risks analysis, urban forest health, and sustainability metrics for a neighborhood or town. ( Link)
Capitalizing on our Diversity: APA California Conference
September 23-26, 2017
Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., Sacramento
Registration is now open for the American Planning Association California Conference. The conference includes sessions on GHG analysis as related to the updated scoping plan, climate justice, climate adaptation, health and equity, and more. ( 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
Mark your calendars for the 17th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in San Francisco, California. Get involved early in the nation's largest smart growth and sustainability event by becoming a sponsor or a promotional partner. Don't forget to check out presentations and materials from this year's fantastic conference in St. Louis too. ( 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.