Top Three Reasons Why 2018 Was a Success for California Climate Action

It was a bit of a surprise when, at the end of 2017, we found the year rounding out with quite a bit worth celebrating in the climate action world. Now following 2018, despite the growing global hot mess of extreme wildfires, storm events, and sea level rise, I’m grateful to say there remains plenty to celebrate. Let’s take a moment at the start of this new year to reflect on what has worked, dig into those actions, and build on the successes.

COMM MoonDunes Susmita Paul 20181. Climate Adaptation stepped onto the stage in a big way this year. 

Five local governments in the Sierra kicked off new climate adaptation planning efforts to protect their communities from devastating impacts: the USFS Region 5, Placer County, the Town of Truckee, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and the Tahoe Conservancy. Sierra CAMP is supporting these efforts with a new technical support program.

Sierra CAMP hosted two wildfire preparedness workshops last spring for small businesses in Grass Valley and Sonora, in partnership with Valley Vision, piloting a new program for rural economic resilience. Read more about the Business Resilience Initiative here and watch a video on why small businesses, the backbone of our rural economies, must be prepared for wildfire. 

Adaptation funding is on the rise. The first climate adaptation dedicated grant program for natural and working lands funded by the State of California solicited applications for its first round of funding. California voters also passed Proposition 68 in June, which dedicates over $4 billion for parks, water, and natural resources, including an unprecedented $142 million for the resilience of our region – check out Kerri Timmer’s June blog post, along with an overview of the climate-specific details in Sierra CAMP’s spring policy memo to learn more.

2. Emissions reductions commitments continue to grow in California.

In addition to the 11 Sierra communities who have already adopted and begun implementing Energy Action Plans, the City of Grass Valley and Nevada County both committed to initiate their own plans through SBC’s Climate Planning team. 

The landmark climate policy SB 100 was also signed into law this year, with support from SBC and partners, committing California to 100% renewable energy! California already met its 2020 carbon emission targets four years ahead of schedule, is on track to deliver 60% renewable electrical power within ten years, and with a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2045, we’re primed to reach zero-carbon. Read more about recent landmark climate legislation in Sierra CAMP’s fall 2018 policy memo

3. And finally, three huge state climate planning documents were released this year – providing scientific guidance, strategy recommendations, and other resources to support California communities. 

The long-awaited Forest Carbon Plan identifies opportunities to reverse recent and historic adverse trends and firmly establish California’s forests as a more resilient and reliable long-term carbon sink, rather than a GHG and black carbon emission source.

California’s 4th Climate Assessment contributes a scientific foundation for understanding climate-related vulnerability at the local scale and informing resilience actions. On December 3rd, Sierra CAMP and partners hosted a public workshop on the Sierra Nevada Regional Report, with over 90 attendees. 

California’s Climate Adaptation Plan, Safeguarding California, was also updated in 2018, identifying hundreds of ongoing actions and next steps state agencies are taking to safeguard Californians from climate impacts within a framework of 81 policy principles and recommendations. 

It may sometimes be challenging and confusing to understand climate policy, and what it may take for our communities to take climate action. But little by little, know that from the Climate Change Action Team in Mammoth Lakes, to Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom and all the way up to the International Panel on Climate Change, people all over the world are fighting, and making real progress, on both reducing emissions and preparing their communities for the impacts. I’ll make a New Year’s toast to that!

Moon Dunes photo courtesy Susmita Paul