This page provides an overview of the steps Washington is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
In 2009, the Washington State Legislature required state agencies to reduce emissions and develop an integrated climate change response strategy (through the State Agency Climate Leadership Act). The act required the departments of ecology, agriculture, community, trade, and economic development, fish and wildlife, natural resources, and transportation to collaborate to develop a strategy in order to support the efforts of state and local agencies, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and individuals in preparing for and addressing climate change impacts. The Department of Ecology was directed to compile the initial strategy using information from other agencies and include a summary of Washington’s vulnerability to impacts from climate change, solutions that could be taken within and across agencies, and recommendations for funding and other resources.
In April 2012, the Department of Ecology released the final adaptation plan, Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State’s Integrated Climate Response Strategy (“Strategy”). The Strategy includes 287 discrete goals and provides an overview of climate change indicators, trends, and future projections in Washington, including those related to temperature, precipitation, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, ocean acidity, wildfires, and flooding. The Strategy is multi-sectoral, covering agriculture; ecosystems, species, and habitats; oceans and coastlines; forests; infrastructure and the built environment; human health; and water resources, in addition to providing goals to advance research, monitoring, and public awareness of climate change.
Washington Interagency Climate Adaptation Network
In 2016, to build momentum around statewide adaptation work, Washington agencies created the Washington Interagency Climate Adaptation Network (ICAN). The group hosted a large State Agency Climate Adaptation Forum in December 2016 to share ongoing state agency efforts to improve climate resilience and implement the 2012 Strategy. ICAN now continues to host meetings and events, providing opportunities to share best practices, challenges, and opportunities for advancing adaptation within and across agencies. ICAN offers state agencies an opportunity to share developments relating to adaptation and identify ways to collaborate and strengthen efforts.
Natural Disaster and Resiliency Activities Review and Recommendations
In May 2019, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 5106, which mandates the establishment of a Natural Disaster and Resiliency Activities Work Group. The Work Group, chaired by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, will review disaster resiliency activities and make recommendations to the legislature and governor on whether an ongoing disaster resiliency program should be created and — if so — on such a program’s structure, activities, and funding.
Washington’s agencies and the state legislature benefit from the scientific expertise of the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, a center that works with planners, resource managers, and policymakers to help them understand and prepare for climate change risks. The Climate Impacts Group has produced special reports and assessments detailing existing knowledge surrounding potential climate change impacts to the State of Washington, the larger Pacific Northwest region, and smaller sub-state regions (including Puget Sound), which has been used to inform statewide planning.
These pages highlight the progress Washington is making to implement its statewide adaptation plan. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Washington 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: July 28, 2020).
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|Washington State Natural Disaster and Resiliency Activities Work Group||Law and Governance||May 13, 2019|
|Establishing the Washington Coastal Marine and Marine Resources Advisory Councils (2013-14 ESB 5603)||Law and Governance||July 28, 2013|
|Washington State Agency Climate Leadership - WA SB 5560||Law and Governance||July 26, 2009|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Policy 5408: Addressing the Risks of Climate Change||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Land management and conservation, Wildlife||March 10, 2017|
|Washington State DOT (WSDOT) Guidance for Project-Level Climate Change Evaluation||Transportation||January 2017 Update|
|Washington Marine Shoreline Design Guidelines – Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Considerations||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal||March 2014|
|Washington Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines 2012 – Appendix A: Climate Change||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Land management and conservation, Water resources||April 2012|
|Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State's Integrated Climate Response Strategy||Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Rural, Transportation, Frontline Communities, Water resources, Wildlife||April 2012|
|Washington State DOT Climate Impacts Vulnerability Assessment||Emergency preparedness, Transportation||November 2011|
|Seattle, Washington Climate Preparedness Strategy||August 2017|
|Puyallup Tribe Climate Change Impact Assessment and Adaptation Options||2016|
|King County Strategic Climate Action Plan - 2015 Update||November 2015|
|Seattle City Light Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan||2015|
|King County, Washington Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan Update||November 2014|
|Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan||August 2013|
|King County, Washington 2012 Strategic Climate Action Plan||December 3, 2012|
|Forest and Water Climate Adaptation: A Plan for Whatcom County, Washington||December 2010|
|Swinomish Climate Change Initiative: Climate Adaptation Action Plan||October 2010|
|Adapting to Climate Change: Strategies from King County, Washington||April 2009|
|King County, Washington Climate Plan 2007||February 2007|
|King County (Washington) Executive Order on Land Use Strategies for Global Warming Preparedness||March 22, 2006|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Washington Shoreline Master Program Handbook: Appendix A – Addressing Sea Level Rise in Shoreline Master Programs||Planning||December 2017 Revision|
|Adaptation Strategies for Resilient Cleanup Remedies: A Guide for Cleanup Project Managers to Increase the Resilience of Toxic Cleanup Sites to the Impacts from Climate Change||Assessments||November 2017|
|Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Washington State: Technical Summaries for Decision-Makers||Assessments||December 2013|
|Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification Report – “Ocean Acidification: From Knowledge to Action”||Planning||November 2012|
|Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment||Assessments||September 2012|
|Climate Change and the Puget Sound: Building the Legal Framework for Adaptation||Law and Governance||June 2011|
|Public Health Impacts of Climate Change in Washington State: Projected Mortality Risks Due to Heat Events and Air Pollution||Assessments||2010|
|Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment: Evaluating Washington's Future in a Changing Climate||Assessments||2009|