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

California is engaged in both directly planning for climate impacts and incorporating climate adaptation into its existing policies and programs. On November 14, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) to develop a state Climate Adaptation Strategy in coordination with public and private entities at the local, regional, state and federal levels (Executive Order S-13-08). CNRA organized state agencies into seven resource-based sector working groups. Each working group identified both short- and long-term adaptation goals and a process for reporting on progress.

In December 2009, the state released a comprehensive statewide Climate Adaptation Strategy (“2009 Plan”). The 2009 Plan summarizes climate change impacts and recommends adaptation goals for seven sectors: public health, biodiversity and habitat, oceans and coastal resources, water, agriculture, forestry, and transportation and energy.

CNRA released an update to the 2009 Plan in July 2014, Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk: An Update to the California Climate Adaptation Strategy (“2014 Safeguarding Plan”), in coordination with other state agencies. The 2014 update highlights progress the state has made toward the goals identified in the 2009 Plan, and it includes new and refined adaptation goals for the state. 

In 2015, the state legislature enacted AB 1482, which requires the California Natural Resources Agency and Strategic Growth Council to coordinate and oversee state efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change and to update the state’s adaptation plan every three years (codifying requirements previously called for by Executive Order B-30-15). The law also calls on state agencies to educate the public about the impacts of climate change; provide a repository of scientific data on climate change; promote the use of climate information in planning and state investment decisions; use natural features and ecosystem restoration approaches for adapting to the impacts of climate change, when feasible; promote regional collaborative planning efforts; and promote drought resilience through integrated water management approaches.

To comply with the mandate to update the state’s adaptation plan every three years, California released the Safeguarding California Plan: 2018 Update in January 2018 (“2018 Safeguarding Plan”). The 2018 update details the progress the state has made in implementing previous plans and presents action items for furthering state progress on adaptation.

To facilitate implementation of state adaptation plans, the California Natural Resources Agency developed planning documents and draft regulations on state requirements for addressing climate change impacts in 2016. Sector-specific implementation action plans were used to document state progress and further implementation of the 2014 Safeguarding Plan. In 2017, the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research also developed a Guidebook for state agencies providing a step-by-step process for integrating considerations of climate change in state planning and investment decisions. Additionally, California state agencies coordinate implementation of the state's adaptation plans through Climate Action Teams (CATs). CATs developed implementation plans, which establish responsible agencies, timelines for completion, and strategies for measuring progress.

Vulnerability Assessments

The state also conducts periodic statewide assessments of climate impacts and vulnerabilities (as required by Executive Order S-03-05). The fourth climate change assessment was released on August 27, 2018 and includes 44 technical reports (on projected impacts to specific sectors and potential responses), 30 summary reports, 9 regional reports, and 3 statewide topical reports (on oceans and coasts, tribal and indigenous communities, and environmental justice impacts of climate change). The third assessment, Our Changing Climate 2012: Vulnerability & Adaptation to the Increasing Risks of Climate Change in California, was released in July 2012. Through the climate assessment process the state explores local, regional and statewide vulnerabilities to climate change and highlights opportunities to take concrete action to reduce climate change impacts. State agencies and outside experts work to produce peer-reviewed scientific research on potential impacts to a range of sectors: energy, water, agriculture, public health, coasts, transportation, and ecological resources, among others.

To advance the science and inform statewide assessments, state agencies periodically develop research plans to identify gaps and funding priorities for climate change research. In July 2014, the Research Working Group Climate Action Team released a draft Climate Change Research Plan that presents state research priorities for the next three to five years.

Climate information and data is made available from previous climate assessments through the California Climate Portal and the Cal-Adapt website. The state also maintains a catalog of climate change research funded by the state that is updated annually. The California Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have also developed and are tracking 36 indicators to evaluate trends in climate change and impacts to the state’s environment and populations. In May 2018, the state released an updated Indicators of Climate Change 2018 report, reporting on the climate impacts that are already occurring across the state across the 36 indicators that the state monitors.

State Legislation

In addition to AB 1482, the state legislature has passed a variety of other laws to require adaptation planning at the state and local levels, to provide funding and financing options to support adaptation planning and investments, and to require adaptation efforts in specific sectors (Details of these requirements are described on the “State Agency Action Overview” page.).

In 2008, SB 732 created the Strategic Growth Council to support regional and local land-use planning, with the goals of promoting water conservation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging infill development, conserving natural resources and agricultural lands, and increasing adaptability to climate change. The Council’s role in promoting and funding adaptation efforts was further expanded in 2010, with the passage of SB 1006.

State legislation affecting the state’s adaptation efforts (described in more detail on the “Supporting Local Actions” page), include: AB 2800 (2016) calling for the creation of the climate-safe infrastructure working group; SB 246 (2015) creating the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resilience Program; SB 379 (2015) requiring local governments to include consideration of climate impacts in local land-use plans (or general plans); and SB 1000 (2016) requiring consider of environmental justice in local land-use plans.

The Global Warming Solutions Act designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been amended to promote adaptation efforts as well. In September 2012, SB 535 directed that a portion of proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade program benefit disadvantaged communities, including investments in affordable housing near transit, weatherization of homes, renewable energy, and urban forestry. The law also called for the development of the CalEnviroScreen tool to identify disadvantaged communities for investment opportunities. In September 2016, AB 1550 — the Climate Investments for California Communities Act — required additional investment (at least 25 percent of cap-and-trade proceeds) to benefit disadvantaged and low-income communities. In 2017, the legislature passed AB 398, with a two-thirds majority, extending the state’s cap-and-trade program and allowing for auction proceeds to be used to advance climate adaptation and resiliency. Climate adaptation initiatives were also included in the 2017 update to the Scoping Plan developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to direct cap-and-trade revenues. The 2017 scoping plan identifies potential uses for cap-and-trade revenues including: addressing health inequities, enhancing the resilience and potential for sequestration of agricultural and working lands, reducing emissions from and enhancing the resilience of the agricultural sector, enhancing carbon sequestration and the resilience of forests and urban forests, and enhancing drought resilience.

Other Statewide Actions and Initiatives

The 2009 Plan recommended that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines be updated to require state agencies to consider climate impacts to state actions in environmental analyses. In December 2009, the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) finalized amendments to the guidelines for completing environmental impact assessments as required by CEQA. Section 15126.2 of CEQA directs public agencies to "evaluate any potentially significant impacts of locating development in other areas susceptible to hazardous conditions (e.g., floodplains, coastlines, wildfire risk areas) as identified in authoritative hazard maps, risk assessments or in land use plans addressing such hazards areas.”

The 2009 Plan also recommended establishment of a Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel (CAAP) to gather input from business and private sector stakeholders to help the state prioritize state adaptation actions. CAAP convened in December 2009 and included prominent business, labor, government, and private sector leaders. CAAP released its report, Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change -— A Strategy for California, in November 2010. The CAAP report recommends that the state create a Climate Risk Council to assess climate risks to the state and advise public entities on how to carry out long-term projects to adapt to future risk and coordinate with other state and local actors. The report further recommends that the state include adaptation goals in local sustainability plans required by SB 375, explore ways to create local or regional climate adaptation funds, and study insurance approaches to promote adaptation, among other recommendations.

In 2016, the state also convened a Climate Justice Working Group, which included representatives from environmental justice, public health, and climate equity organizations. The Working Group developed recommendations for ensuring that the 2018 update to the state’s Safeguarding Plan adequately addressed considerations of equity in its report, Advancing Climate Justice in California: Guiding Principles and Recommendations for Policy and Funding Decisions.

As part of the launch of the 2018 Safeguarding Plan, the state also announced the creation of a Cultural Resources Climate Change Task Force tasked with developing a Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategic Plan to develop strategies for consulting with California Native American Tribes and historic preservation officers around the preservation, protection, and adaptation of cultural resources vulnerable to impacts from climate change.

 

These pages highlight the progress California is making to implement the goals set forth in its adaptation plans and in other state initiatives. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help California prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.

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

(Research last updated: August 1, 2018).

 
State Agency Action Overview
Local Support Overview
 
 

State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
California SB 901 - Wildfire Preparedness and Response Law and Governance September 21, 2018
CA EO B-54-18: Safeguarding California plants, wildlife and ecosystems from climate change Law and Governance September 7, 2018
California SB 606 - Water Management Planning Law and Governance May 31, 2018
California AB 1668 - Water Management Planning Law and Governance May 31, 2018
California EO B-52-18 - Executive Order to improve forest and community resilience to wildfire and other climate impacts Law and Governance May 10, 2018
California AB 733 - Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts for Climate Adaptation Law and Governance October 11, 2017
California SB 667 - Department of Water Resources: riverine and riparian stewardship improvements Law and Governance October 6, 2017
California AB 2800: Climate change: infrastructure planning Law and Governance September 26, 2016
California SB 1000 -  Land use: general plans: safety and environmental justice Law and Governance September 24, 2016
California AB 2722: Transformative Climate Communities Program Law and Governance September 14, 2016
California AB-2139 Ocean Protection Council: Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Law and Governance September 14, 2016
CA Executive Order B-37-16: Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life Law and Governance May 9, 2016
California SB 246 - Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program Law and Governance October 8, 2015
California AB 1482: Climate adaptation strategy Law and Governance October 8, 2015
California SB 379: Land use; general plan; safety element; climate adaptation Law and Governance October 8, 2015
California EO B-30-15: Establishing 2030 CA emissions target, Adaptation initiatives Law and Governance April 29, 2015
California Proposition 1 - Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, Water Bond Law and Governance November 14, 2014
California AB 2516: Planning for Sea Level Rise Database Law and Governance September 21, 2014
2013 California Green Building Code - CALGreen Law and Governance January 1, 2014
California AB 691 - State lands: granted trust lands: sea level rise Law and Governance October 5, 2013
SB 535 - California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Law and Governance September 30, 2012
CA SB 1066 - Climate Ready California Coastal Conservancy Law and Governance September 27, 2012
California Cool Pavements Research and Implementation Act (AB 296, 2012) Law and Governance September 27, 2012
California Ocean Protection Act (amended 2011) Law and Governance January 2011
CA SB 1006: California Strategic Growth Council to incorporate adaptation Law and Governance September 30, 2010
Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Law and Governance December 30, 2009
California Executive Order S-13-08 Requiring State Adaptation Strategy Law and Governance November 14, 2008
California SB 732 - Strategic Growth Council Law and Governance September 2008
California Executive Order S-03-05 - Global warming impacts Law and Governance June 1, 2005

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
California Biodiversity Initiative: A Roadmap for Protecting the State’s Natural Heritage Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land management and conservation, Oceans, Wildlife September 1, 2018
California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Energy, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Tribal, Frontline Communities, Water infrastructure, Water resources August 27, 2018
Conserving California’s Coastal Habitats - A Legacy and a Future with Sea Level Rise Coastal, Land management and conservation, Wildlife March 15, 2018
California Sea-Level Rise Guidance - 2018 Update Coastal, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Frontline Communities March 14, 2018
Safeguarding California in Action: Climate Change Adaptation Examples from State Agencies Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Energy, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Information technology, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Tribal, Frontline Communities, Water infrastructure, Water resources, Wildlife January 30, 2018
Safeguarding California Plan: 2018 Update Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Energy, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Frontline Communities, Water resources, Wildlife January 30, 2018
Planning and Investing for a Resilient California - A Guidebook for State Agencies Energy, Land use and built environment, Transportation, Frontline Communities, Water infrastructure November 15, 2017
Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Energy, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Water resources March 2016
Safeguarding California: Public Health Sector Implementation Action Plan Public health March 2016
California State Wildlife Action Plan 2015 Update Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Land management and conservation, Wildlife February 2016
California Drought Contingency Plan Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Emergency preparedness, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Public health, Tourism and recreation, Water resources January 15, 2016
Climate Change Research Plan for California Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Energy, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Water resources February 2015
Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk - Update to the 2009 CA Climate Adaptation Strategy Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Energy, Forestry, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Water resources July 31, 2014
California Extreme Heat Adaptation Final Guidance Document – Transportation Recommendations Public health, Transportation October 2013
Preparing California for Extreme Heat: Guidance and Recommendations Emergency preparedness, Land use and built environment, Public health October 2013
California Water Plan 2013 Update Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Land use and built environment, Water resources October 2013
California 2013 State Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan Emergency preparedness September 30, 2013
The Delta Plan Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Tourism and recreation, Water resources, Wildlife September 1, 2013
Caltrans Activities to Address Climate Change: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Adapting to Impacts Transportation April 2013
State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document 2013 Update Coastal March 15, 2013
California State Coastal Conservancy Strategic Plan 2013 - 2018 Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Tourism and recreation December 6, 2012
California 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan Energy August 23, 2012
California Ocean Protection Council: Five-Year Strategic Plan (2012-2017) - A Vision for Our Ocean and Coast Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Land management and conservation, Oceans February 17, 2012
Climate Action for Health: Integrating Public Health into Climate Action Planning Public health February 2012
California Coastal Conservancy Climate Change Policy and Project Selection Criteria Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land management and conservation November 10, 2011
San Francisco Bay Plan (California) Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land use and built environment October 6, 2011
Caltrans Guidance on Incorporating Sea Level Rise - for use in the planning and development of Project Initiation Documents Coastal, Transportation May 16, 2011
Guidance for Addressing Climate Change in California Coastal Conservancy Projects Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land use and built environment April 4, 2011
2010 California Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines - Recommendations for Adapting the Regional Transportation System to Climate Change Transportation April 7, 2010
California 2009 Climate Adaptation Strategy Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Energy, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Transportation, Water resources 2009
Potential for Adaptation to Climate Change in an Agricultural Landscape in the Central Valley of California - Final Report Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Land use and built environment, Water resources August 2009
California Department of Water Resources Sustainability Policy and Guidelines Water resources April 22, 2009
California Water Plan Update 2009 - Integrated Water Management Biodiversity and ecosystems, Land use and built environment, Water resources 2009

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
County of San Mateo, California Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment March 13, 2018
Resilient Los Angeles - 100RC Resilience Strategy for Los Angeles, California March 2, 2018
City of Richmond, California Climate Action Plan and Climate Adaptation Study October 26, 2016
Resilient Oakland - It Takes a Town to Thrive October 10, 2016
City of Del Mar, California Climate Action Plan June 6, 2016
Resilient San Francisco - Stronger Today. Stronger Tomorrow. April 18, 2016
City of Berkeley, California Resilience Strategy April 1, 2016
A Roadmap for Climate Resilience in Sonoma County, California April 2016
San Francisco Sea Level Rise Action Plan March 2016
San Diego, California Climate Action Plan December 2015
Marin County Climate Action Plan (2015 Update) July 2015
Monterey County's Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan June 2015
Sustainable City pLAn - Los Angeles, California April 8, 2015
City of Laguna Woods Climate Adaptation Plan December 2014
Guidance for Incorporating Sea Level Rise into Capital Planning in San Francisco September 22, 2014
City Heights, San Diego Urban Greening Plan August 5, 2014
City of Berkeley CA's 2014 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan June 1, 2014
City of Santa Cruz, California, Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Five Year Update (2102 - 2017) May 20, 2014
Sustainability Action Plan: A Sustainability Action Toolkit for Lake Tahoe December 2013
Santa Clara Valley Water District 2012 Water Supply and Infrastructure Master Plan October 2012
City of Santa Barbara, California Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability Study July 2012
Community Based Climate Adaptation Planning: Case Study of Oakland, California July 2012
SPUR Ocean Beach Master Plan for San Francisco – Strategies for Great Highway May 21, 2012
Ocean Beach, California Master Plan May 2012
City of Sacramento, California Climate Action Plan February 12, 2012
Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for San Diego Bay, California January 2012
City of Santa Cruz, California Climate Adaptation Plan December 13, 2011
City of Santa Cruz Climate Adaptation Plan - Transportation Measures December 2011
City of Chula Vista, California Climate Adaptation Plan May 2011
Integrated Strategies for a Vibrant and Sustainable Fresno County, California March 2011
Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Planning in San Luis Obispo County, California November 2010
City of Pinole, California General Plan Update November 2010
San Diego Association of Governments Climate Action Strategy – Transportation Goal March 2010
ABAG San Francisco Bay Area Local Hazard Mitigation Plan 2010
Climate Action Plan of the Sierra Nevada: A Regional Approach to Address Climate Change December 2009
City of Berkeley, California Climate Action Plan 2009 June 2009
City of San Rafael, California Climate Change Action Plan (April 2009) April 1, 2009
ClimateLA (Los Angeles, California) 2008
Marin Countywide Plan (California) November 6, 2007
GreenLA: An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming (Los Angeles, California) May 2007

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
California Coastal Conservancy Climate Ready Grant Program Funding 2014 - 2018
California State Adaptation Clearinghouse - ResilientCA.org Adaptation Websites 2018
PG&E Better Together Resilient Communities Grant Program Funding March 1, 2018
California Climate Change and Health Equity Program Solutions
CalTrans Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment 2018 Summary Report - District 4 Assessments January 2018
California Wildlife Conservation Board - Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program Funding September 18, 2017
Rising Seas in California - An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science Assessments April 2017
California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool - CalEnviroScreen 3.0 Data and tools January 30, 2017
Cal-Adapt 2.0 Data and tools 2017
California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER) Funding
'Sea-Level Rise: A Slow-Moving Emergency' CA State Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy report Assessments August 2014
California Energy Commission Integrated Energy Policy Report Assessments January 15, 2014
Caltrans - Addressing Climate Change Adaptation in Regional Transportation Plans: A Guide for California MPOs and RTPAs Planning February 2013
State of California Extreme Heat Adaptation Interim Guidance Document Law and Governance August 31, 2012
California Climate Adaptation Planning Guide Planning July 2012
Our Changing Climate 2012: Vulnerability and Adaptation to the Increasing Risks from Climate Change in California Assessments 2012
Adapting to Rising Tides: Transportation Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Pilot Project Assessments November 2011
Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning Planning November 2011
Climate Change Hits Home: Adaptation Strategies for the San Francisco Bay Area Planning May 2011
Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change - A Strategy for California Planning November 2010
California Climate Adaptation Strategy - 2010 Progress Report Monitoring and Reporting November 15, 2010
California Climate Action Team Biennial Report - 2009 CAT Report Assessments April 2010
Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta Planning December 2009
Climate Change Impacts on Water Supply and Agricultural Water Management in California's Western San Joaquin Valley, and Potential Adaptation Strategies - Final Report Assessments August 2009
The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast Assessments May 2009
 

Powered by the Georgetown Climate Center's

About

Clean Energy

More