This page provides an overview of the steps Virginia is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

On December 21, 2007, Governor Tim Kaine established the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change (Executive Order 59). The executive order also directed the Commission to create a Climate Action Plan that would evaluate expected impacts of climate change on Virginia's natural resources, public health, agriculture, forestry, tourism, and insurance sectors.

On December 15, 2008, the Governor’s Commission released its Final Report: A Climate Change Action Plan. The 2008 plan details the Commission’s findings regarding climate impacts, particularly sea-level rise, on the state’s infrastructure, coastline, and military installations. While the 2008 plan focuses primarily on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it includes a set of goals related to preparing for climate impacts. Specifically, it calls on state agencies to begin to consider climate change in planning and decision-making processes. The Governor’s Commission was not continued under Governor Bob McDonnell, who served from 2010 to 2014.

On July 1, 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe created a new Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission (Update Commission) to review, update, and prioritize the goals of the 2008 Climate Change Action Plan (Executive Order 19, Convening The Governor’s Climate Change And Resiliency Update Commission). The new commission is also charged with identifying sources of revenue to fund the implementation of these goals. The reconstituted commission met for the first time in September 2014. The Update Commission released it's Report and Final Recommendations to the Governor in December 2015. Based upon recommendations from the Commission, the state has taken several actions such as appointing a state Chief Resilience Officer and developing a state-wide protocol for sea-level rise projections.  Other recommendations in the 2015 report call on the state to establish a Climate Change and Resilience Resource Center to provide technical assistance to decisionmakers and information to the public, to create a bank for energy and resilience projects, and to leverage federal investments with state bonds to invest in coastal resilience projects.

The Recurrent Flooding Subpanel of the legislature's Secure Commonwealth Panel made a series of recommendations for how the state can respond and adapt to the threat of recurrent flooding and sea-level rise (Recommendations to the Secure Commonwealth Panel on the Issue of Sea Level Rise and Recurrent Flooding in Coastal Virginia) in September 2014. In addition, Virginia's Coastal Zone Management Program funded twelve projects related to climate change adaptation between 2008 and 2011.

Virginia is in the process of implementing the goals set forth in its 2008 plan.

(Research last updated June 1, 2016; Click here for a description of our methodology.)

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress of states in implementing their adaptation plans, is supported by the MacArthur Foundation. 

View State Adaptation Plan Status
View All Completed State Goals

Sector Adaptation Goals in Progress or Completed

Get a quick view of the progress Virginia is making to prepare for climate change in different areas below. The first number includes goals in progress or completed in Virginia's state adaptation plan. The second number reflects the total number of goals in each area. For a more detailed look at progress click here or click on one of the sector buttons below. 

Completed Goals from the Coasts/Oceans Plan

Completed Goals from the Infrastructure Plan

Completed Goals from the Public Health Plan



State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
Virginia SB 1443: comprehensive plan sea-level rise strategies Law and Governance March 16, 2015
Virginia EO 19: Convening the Governor's Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission Law and Governance July 1, 2014
Virginia HJ 16: Recurrent flooding; joint subcommittee established to formulate recommendations to address Law and Governance March 8, 2014
Virginia HJ 50: Flooding; Virginia Institute of Marine Science to study strategies to prevent in Tidewater localities Law and Governance March 9, 2012
Virginia SB 964 (2011): Coastal resource management; Living Shorelines; VA Marine Resources Commission, et al. to develop integrated guidance. Law and Governance April 29, 2011
Executive Order 59 (2007- VA) the Governor's Commission on Climate Change Law and Governance December 21, 2007

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
Virginia Climate Change and Resilience Report to the Governor Coastal, Energy, Information technology, Land use and built environment, Transportation December 21, 2015
VA Dept of Conservation and Recreation: Guidance for Local Floodplain Ordinances in Virginia Coastal, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment October 2011
Virginia's Strategy for Safeguarding Species of Greatest Conservation Need from the Effects of Climate Change Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Wildlife November 2009
Virginia Governor's Commission on Climate Change Final Report: A Climate Change Action Plan Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Insurance, Land use and built environment, Public health December 15, 2008

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
Norfolk Vision 2100 November 22, 2016
Norfolk, Virginia Resilience Strategy October 28, 2015
Developing a Local Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan for Virginia Beach October 2014
Coastal Resiliency: Adapting to Climate Change in Hampton Roads, Virginia July 2013
City of Alexandria, Virginia Energy and Climate Change Action Plan: Local Actions to Save Energy, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Prepare for the Impacts of Climate Change 2012 -2020 June 2011
City of Virginia Beach 2009 Comprehensive Plan - Policy Document December 8, 2009
City of Alexandria, Virginia Environmental Action Plan 2030 June 23, 2009

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
Tidewater Rising Resiliency Design Challenge Planning January 2016
Recommendations to the Secure Commonwealth Panel on the Issue of Sea Level Rise and Recurrent Flooding in Coastal Virginia Law and Governance September 5, 2014
Virginia's Climate Modeling and Species Vulnerability Assessment: How Climate Data Can Inform Management and Conservation Assessments 2013
Assessing Vulnerability and Risk of Climate Change Effects on Transportation Infrastructure: Hampton Roads Virginia FHWA Pilot Solutions 2012
Virginia Coastal Needs Assessment and Strategies: FY 2011-2015 Assessments April 2011

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