USC Price School of Public Policy

Climate Task Force

Knowledge in Action:

Mazmanian to Lead Climate Change Task Force

Dan Mazmanian

Daniel Mazmanian, holder of the Bedrosian Chair in Governance at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, will lead the Task Force on California’s Adaptation to Climate Change, a new statewide advisory panel created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The appointment was announced last month when the state released its climate action strategy. The report documents the effects climate change is likely to have on California and what state agencies can and should be doing to prepare.

“The purpose of this ‘citizens’ task force is to build a consensus around needed state policies and implementation strategies and ensure that climate change adaptation policy is center stage in the 2010 state gubernatorial and legislative elections,” said Mazmanian, director of the USC Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise.

Bringing attention to what today’s state agencies should do to prepare is critically important, according to Mazmanian.

However, this is only a first step in what will be a long-term process of informing Californians about the effects of climate change, laying out a comprehensive policy strategy and pathway for addressing them and making climate change adaptation a central element of the state’s role throughout the century, he added.

The task force – an independent, non-partisan, multi-stakeholder group – is building on the state’s strategy report by focusing on three climate threats that are most likely to have critical impacts on California: increased temperature and resulting major wildfires and an extended fire season; rising sea levels along 1,100 miles of coastline, inlets and bays; and planning for a far less predictable supply of water and a significantly reduced snowpack in the Sierras, along with extended periods of drought.

The panel will develop recommendations for consideration by the governor and state legislature, major stakeholders and the citizens of the state. Its report will be released in late spring 2010.

The recommendations will be made with appreciation of several important features of climate change, Mazmanian said.

First, the effects of climate change will occur over a prolonged period, in complex and many unanticipated ways. Thus the policies and governance set in motion now will need to be robust and durable.

Second, there is often an inverse relationship between the time horizon of the most likely systemic effects (such as sea-level rise along California’s coast and intense heat wave effects in certain urban areas) and the time when society must begin adapting to them.

Third, as persuasive as the science of climate change is to most people, there is an understandable degree of skepticism about the actions of climate science when so many of the relevant physical and natural systems will be in flux.

The best recommended courses of action likely will be those that simultaneously reduce green house gas emissions while adapting to their anticipated effects, Mazmanian noted.

For more information on the governor’s Climate Action Strategy for California, visit:
www.climatechange.ca.gov.