Helping Communities Adapt to Climate Change
Even if society stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the impacts of past and current emissions would be felt for decades. That’s why the Georgetown Climate Center is working with state and local policymakers to plan for flooding in coastal communities, to address water shortages in already dry regions of the country, and to offset the public health dangers related to climate change.
The Georgetown Climate Center provides states and local governments with best-practice models, legal analysis, policy work, and legislative tracking, and seeks to maximize the federal, state, regional, and local collaborations that are needed to implement new approaches to adaptation.
Learn more about the Center’s work on adaptation.
News and Updates
The State of Adaptation in the United States surveys activities underway to help communities prepare for climate change and identifies needs, challenges, and potential actions that communities can now pursue.
The report was commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation and was undertaken by EcoAdapt, the Georgetown Climate Center, the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, and the University of California-Davis.
The report provides examples of societal responses to climate change in our planning and management of cities, agriculture, and natural resources. These examples include regulatory measures,...
Federal agency sustainability plans released on February 7, 2013, include climate change adaptation plans that outline initiatives to reduce the vulnerability of federal assets, programs, and investments to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and more frequent and severe extreme weather events. Executive Order No. 13,514, issued by President Obama in 2009, set environmental and energy goals for federal agencies and required them to develop annual sustainability plans outlining how they will meet these goals. Agencies are required to reduce petroleum use in vehicles by 30 percent by 2020, improve water efficiency by 26 percent by 2020, divert or recycle 50 percent of waste by 2015, and meet other targets under the order....
In a new report, Preparing for the Rising Tide, the Boston Harbor Association finds that before 2100, nearly six percent of the city will be flooded twice daily at high tide. The report’s figures are based on an anticipated five feet of sea-level rise by 2100.
The severe flooding is also a problem in the here and now, report authors say. If Sandy’s storm surge had hit Boston five and a half hours earlier at high tide, the city would have experienced a 100-year coastal flood, which also could have left about six percent of the city submerged under water. As the seas continue to rise, so will the flooding problems created by storm surge. A similar 100-year storm surge...
On January 11, 2013, the National Climate Assessment Draft Advisory Committee (NCADAC) released a draft of the third National Climate Assessment Report. The report reinforces previous assessments that our climate is changing now and that the change is largely caused by human actions.
The assessment confirms that past greenhouse gas emissions have already committed us to changes in climate, including higher temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, more drought, and higher risk of fires. The extent of climate change in the future depends on our ability to reduce emissions in the future. The trends identified in the second assessment in 2009 such as general warming, changes in precipitation...
On Dec. 28, 2012, Governor Martin O’Malley signed the "Climate Change and Coast Smart Construction Executive Order" to increase Maryland’s long term resiliency to flooding and sea-level rise. The order directs that all new and reconstructed state structures and other infrastructure improvements in Maryland be planned and constructed to avoid or minimize future flood damage.
“As storms such as Hurricane Sandy have shown, it is vital that we commit our resources and expertise to create a ready and resilient Maryland, by taking the necessary steps to adapt to the rising sea and unpredictable weather,” said Governor O’Malley. “In...
The Georgetown Climate Center recently hosted an important webinar about how communities can become more resilient to extreme weather and prepare for climate change through floodplain regulations.
The Dec. 6 webinar featured a discussion of a model sea-level rise ordinance developed by the Georgetown Climate Center and insights from three experienced planners from Iowa, New Hampshire, and Mississippi. Practitioners shared lessons learned and their experiences enhancing regulatory standards in floodplains in the wake of extreme weather events - lessons that may prove particularly valuable as the northeastern United States recovers from Superstorm Sandy.
The Georgetown Climate Center's Vicki Arroyo and Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, recently discussed changing public opinions and prospects for new policy actions to address climate change on the National Public Radio program "On Point."
Click play below to listen to the Dec. 6 program.