USC Price School of Public Policy

Task Force Releases Climate Adaptation Report

Knowledge in Action:

Task Force Releases Climate Adaptation Report

By Ben Dimapindan

Dan Mazmanian Dan Mazmanian is co-director of the state advisory panel on climate change adaptation.

The State of California’s advisory panel on climate change adaptation, led by USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development professor Daniel Mazmanian, recently released the report “Preparing for the Effects of Climate Change — A Strategy for California.”

Mazmanian – the holder of SPPD’s Bedrosian Chair in Governance, whose research and teaching focus largely on environmental policy – served as co-director for the Pacific Council on International Policy’s Task Force on Adaptation to Climate Change and helped draft the council’s 71-page report.

“The issue of climate change and its effects on California is a fairly established scientific certainty — what we don’t know is a time frame,” Mazmanian said. “So what we’re saying in this report is that we have an opportunity now to develop the kind of science and analysis to provide usable information at the local and regional level, where most decisions about land use, water use, sea-level rise and coastal development are made.

“We now have the time to think ahead and plan proactively so that we are not placed in a reactive mode,” he added. “We have time to learn about and develop the most cost-effective strategies for doing so.”

According to the report, the task force sought to answer three questions: What are the key challenges triggered by accelerated climate change? What are the options for dealing with them? What are the gaps in planning and policy at the local, regional and state levels for dealing with adaptation?

In response to those questions, the report outlined short-term and long-term strategies to best prepare for climate change effects statewide, targeting three significant hazard areas: sea-level rise, water-supply availability and severe forest and range wildfires.

Mazmanian said that the panel’s top recommendation is to “establish a climate risk council, and it needs to be located close to the governor.”

He added: “No such entity at the state level exists to bring together the emerging climate science with implications for local infrastructure and development decisions. We need a way to focus the growing knowledge in climate science within the state, through an entity with wide scientific respect and credibility among those who will be responsible for applying it on the ground.”

Mazmanian noted that the report was received positively from Lester Snow, California’s secretary for natural resources.

Snow, who spoke at the report’s release event, said the “report helps create and maintain the momentum that’s necessary” for the state’s climate change adaptation strategy to succeed.

“It’s a recognition that rapid climate change is real and is affecting our natural environment now,” Snow said, “not sometime in the future, but now. The report makes it clear that climate change adaptation must become a part of a cross-cutting, integrating theme in government – local, state, federal – in business and in finance.”

In addition, the report has garnered nationwide media coverage in recent days. It has been featured in major news outlets such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and by the Associated Press and Reuters.

Mazmanian also presented the report’s findings and recommendations at a forum at USC in December hosted by the USC Center for Sustainable Cities. The event included a discussion with members of the state advisory panel, as well as local experts.