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Capital Region Climate News & Resources: December 9, 2019

Collaborative Update

There’s still time to sign up and join the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative and the region’s climate leaders at CRC’s upcoming workshop on December 16th – Climate Action in the Capital Region: 2019 ReCAP. Register here.
One of the CRC’s programmatic pillars is informing the public of climate impacts and solutions to help people adapt and be resilient to these impacts. Each year, through our social media networks, we disseminate two PSA Campaigns focused on public safety and awareness for extreme heat and flooding. Follow CRC on Twitter and Facebook to get involved and stay informed!
If you’d like to partner with CRC in this effort, please contact Grace Kaufman at gkaufman@lgc.org.
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News

American Climate: 21 stories
Rising temperatures are strengthening the destructive force of wildfires, hurricanes and floods, putting tens of millions of Americans at risk. Tens of thousands of Americans are already paying a high price, their lives shattered by climate calamities. Here are twenty-one of their stories. (InsideClimateNews)

 

In bleak report, U.N. says drastic action is only way to avoid worst effects of climate change
The world has squandered so much time mustering the action necessary to combat climate change that rapid, unprecedented cuts in GHG emissions offer the only hope of averting an ever-intensifying cascade of consequences, according to new findings from the United Nations. Already, the past year has brought devastating hurricanes, relentless wildfires and crippling heat waves, prompting millions of protesters to take to the streets. Global temperatures are on pace to rise as much as 3.2 C (5.8 F) by the end of the century, according to the United Nations’ annual “emissions gap” report, which assesses the difference between the world’s current path and the changes needed to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Should that pace continue, the result could be widespread, catastrophic effects: Coral reefs, already dying in some places, would probably dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Some coastal cities, already wrestling with flooding, would be constantly inundated by rising seas. In much of the world, severe heat, already intense, could become unbearable. Global GHGs must begin falling by 7.6 percent each year beginning 2020 — a rate currently nowhere in sight — to meet the most ambitious aims of the Paris climate accord. Its authors acknowledged that the findings are “bleak.” (Washington Post, Vox, Guardian)

 

Lessons from inside the world’s most sustainable city
Scientists predict we’ve got about 11 years to vastly reduce global emissions before we’re, in a word, screwed. That would require governments to dramatically restructure their economies. So where does that leave everyday people doing their best to recycle? A city in Sweden claims to have an answer. They claim to be the “most sustainable city in the world.” GQ sent novelist Reif Larsen to find out what we can learn from the good people of Gothenburg. (GQ)
Climate emergency: world ‘may have crossed tipping points’
The world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points, according to a stark warning from scientists. This risk is “an existential threat to civilisation”, they say, meaning “we are in a state of planetary emergency”. The researchers, writing in a commentary article in the journal Nature, acknowledge that the complex science of tipping points means great uncertainty remains. But they say the potential damage from the tipping points is so big and the time to act so short, that “to err on the side of danger is not a responsible option”. The Nature article lists nine tipping points that may have been surpassed, such as the rapid loss of ice sheets and permafrost, the slowing of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, and wildfires. (Guardian)

 

Climate crisis: what is COP and can it save the world?

For almost three decades, world governments have met every year to forge a global response to the climate emergency. Under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, every country on earth is treaty-bound to “avoid dangerous climate change”, and find ways to reduce GHGs globally in an equitable way. COP stands for conference of the parties under the UNFCCC, and the annual meetings have swung between fractious and soporific, interspersed with moments of high drama and the occasional triumph (the Paris agreement in 2015) and disaster (Copenhagen in 2009). This briefing provides a summary of what’s at stake for the 25th iteration. (Guardian)

 

For a city that didn’t burn, challenges continue a year after destructive fire
Within a few days of the Camp Fire, Chico added over 19,000 new residents—a 20% increase in population. The city has since struggled to accommodate this growth, as officials believe that most new residents are there to stay. Water flowing from toilets through the pollution control plants was up by one million gallons per day, the equivalent of building an additional 5,000 homes overnight. Waste haulers similarly reported that the volume of trash had spiked. Chico needs close to $500 million to improve infrastructure, hire new police officers and firefighters, and expand city services. The additional toilet flushes alone are costing an extra $53,000 per month. The city has asked FEMA and the California Office of Emergency Services for help, but has largely been rebuffed because Chico is not in the fire recovery zone. (Chico)

 

As climate risk grows, cities test a tough strategy: Saying ‘No’ to developers
Virginia Beach last year became one of a small but growing number of communities willing to say no to developers when it rejected a proposal to build homes on flood-prone land. Local officials around the country are forced to grapple with more intense flooding, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. That pressure is colliding with development, which provides jobs, homes and taxes but which also can increase the future risk of disaster. In many coastal states, homes are going up at the fastest rate in the most flood-prone areas. New houses in the wildland-urban interface increased 41 percent nationwide between 1990 and 2010. But as the financial and emotional costs of disasters increase, so does the evidence of a shifting mind-set. (NYT)

 

Methane emissions from coalmines could stoke climate crisis – study
Coalmines are belching millions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere unchecked, because policymakers have overlooked the rising climate threat. The International Energy Agency estimated that the amount of methane seeping from new and disused coalmines may have reached just under 40m tonnes last year. This would put annual coalmine emissions broadly in line with the international aviation and shipping sectors combined. The research may help to explain the unexpected surge in methane emissions in recent years. (Guardian)

 

Climate-heating greenhouse gases hit new high, UN reports
The concentration of climate-heating GHGs has hit a record high, according to a report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The jumps in the key gases measured in 2018 were all above the average for the last decade, showing action on the climate emergency to date is having no effect in the atmosphere. The WMO said the gap between targets and reality were both “glaring and growing”. The rise in GHG concentration follows inevitably from the continued surge in global emissions, which was described as “brutal news” for 2018. (Guardian)

 

Climate change will affect “every single stage” of a child’s life, health researchers warn
“The life of every child born today will be profoundly affected by climate change,” according to a new report in the prestigious medical journal the Lancet. If nothing is done to curb global emissions, children born today will experience a world that is four degrees Celsius than pre-industrial temperatures. “A four-degree world is something that no human has ever experienced before,” said Nick Watts, the lead author. And while researchers have climate models of what the world might look like in those conditions, he added, we don’t have any models of how public health will be affected in the long term. More than half of the cities surveyed in the report said they expected climate change to “seriously compromise” their health infrastructure. (Vox, TNR)
Atmospheric rivers will be a stronger drive of wet and dry extremes for California
A new regime of wet and dry extremes is emerging in California due to atmospheric rivers (ARs), and the state’s precipitation will vacillate even more wildly between extremes of drought and flooding. Researchers at Scripps found that all 16 global climate models predict that future heavy precipitation in the West will come more prominently from atmospheric rivers. The frequency of precipitation will diminish because storms not related to atmospheric rivers will venture less frequently into the region, while ARs will be more potent in a warming climate. This will require more adaptive reservoir management based on better AR forecasts. (Scripps)

 

Can a new approach to reservoir management save water and still protect against floods?
Many of California’s watersheds are notoriously flashy – swerving from below-average flows to jarring flood conditions in quick order. The state needs all the water it can get, but current flood management guidelines are strict and unyielding, requiring reservoirs to dump water each winter to make space for flood flows that may not come. However, new tools and operating methods are emerging that could lead the way to a redefined system that improves both water supply and flood protection capabilities. Known as Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations, the approach centers on using the latest forecast technology to plan for the arrival of atmospheric rivers. It is being tested at Folsom Dam and in the Yuba and Feather River watersheds. (Water Education)

 

The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error
Given the West’s history of drought, it stands to reason that states in the region would know exactly how much water is available and where it’s being used, but that isn’t the case. Five of the seven water-stressed states along the Colorado River—Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming—don’t yet track how they use their limited water in any kind of systematic, accessible way, teeing up potential shortages as the region dries. “We use big data for everything from getting around to shopping to weather data. But one of the things we don’t have sophisticated tools on is water.” (Outside)
As seas rise and rivers flood, communities look for a way out
When the water rises, whether from heavy rains or rising seas, communities have a few options: reinforce flood-threatened homes, rebuild after the water recedes, or—in places where the threat of repeated floods and even more damage is increasing—leave. And while leaving may feel synonymous with defeat, more cities and states are interested in encouraging people to leave risky floodplains—a process called managed retreat. (Science Friday)

 

 

The rain in Spain: how an ancient Arabic technique saves Alicante from floods

To protect itself from destructive flooding, Alicante, Spain, has built a park designed to store and recycle rainwater. Called La Marjal, the park serves as a typical recreation area and a nature reserve – but its primary purpose is to store, and then recycle, rainwater. In function it resembles an aljibe, a technique developed by Arab residents of Spain many centuries ago, who were masters of water management. The park diverts water to a nearby treatment plant, where it can subsequently be used to clean streets and water parks. La Marjal was built in two years for €3.7 million, a quarter of the cost of the city’s traditional concrete reservoirs. ()

 

 

Guardian

 

 

Climate change to steer all New Zealand government decisions from now on

A climate change “lens” will now be applied to all major decisions made by the government, New Zealand’s climate change minister has said, as floods and bushfires wreck havoc around the country in the first week of summer. “Decisions we take now and in the future about everything from the places we live, to how we get around, to public health, to how we relate to one another will be impacted one way or another by climate change. It’s crucial therefore that when we’re making big decisions climate change is at the forefront of our minds.” ()

 

 

Guardian

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Tools and Resources

2019 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change
The Lancet Countdown is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration, dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change through 41 indicators. The 2019 report finds that a child born today will experience a world that is more than four degrees warmer than the pre­industrial average, with climate change impacting human health from infancy and adolescence to adulthood and old age. Later in life, families and livelihoods are put at risk from increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, with women among the most vulnerable across a range of social and cultural contexts. Globally, 77% of countries experienced an increase in daily population exposure to wildfires from 2001–14 to 2015–18. A business as usual trajectory will result in a fundamentally altered world, with the indicators described providing a glimpse of the implications of this pathway. The life of every child born today will be profoundly affected by climate change. Without accelerated intervention, this new era will come to define the health of people at every stage of their lives. (Lancet)

Health, Wildfires & Climate Change in California
Extreme events like the 2018 Camp Fire that leveled Paradise are having profound effects on human health. These impacts are felt by residents in the immediate fire zones, first responders and other fire workers, and people impacted by smoke who live many miles away. In Spring 2019, UC Berkeley faculty and students and practitioners from local governments, state agencies and community organizations examined the health impacts of wildfires and to identify solutions to better protect health in future events. A recently published white paper summarizes their recommendations for stronger actions and expanded research. (UCB)

Climate Change, Health, and Equity: A Guide for Local Health Departments
Local public health departments (LHDs) are working proactively to address health inequities, an endeavor that requires intentional change in public health practice. This Guide connects what we know about climate impacts and climate solutions with the work of LHDs, and provides examples of how LHDs can put climate change into public health practice. The Guide is intentionally redundant so that readers can access information from various entry points based on their roles and interests. (PHI)
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Upcoming Opportunities

Public review: Draft Adaptation Planning Guide 2.0
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is updating the Adaptation Planning Guide (APG 2.0), a state tool to support community-level climate adaptation planning and implementation. The APG 2.0 will equip local jurisdictions with the tools needed to adopt a long-term adaptation approach by providing the latest adaptation resources, planning methodologies, and latest scientific findings, and integrating with existing planning processes. The public review draft will be posted and will be open for comments until January 2020. (CalOES)

 

Job opportunity: Cool Davis, Field Coordinator (Transportation)
Cool Davis is hiring a Field Coordinator to train and direct volunteers to work with households to reduce household-based GHG emissions, focusing on transportation. The Field Coordinator will direct volunteers in delivering activities for Cool Solutions campaigns designed using community-based social marketing principles and community engagement strategies. (Apply)

 

Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program
The Safe Routes Partnership is accepting applications for the 2020 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program. Under this program, the Safe Routes Partnership will award $12,500 to seven communities with projects that will create walkable, bikeable parks, along with technical assistance to set the project plans in motion. Deadline: December 16. (SRP)

 

2020 Leadership In Community Resilience Program
The National League of Cities 2020 Leadership in Community Resilience program is now accepting applications from cities seeking additional funding for resilience-related projects. Each city selected for the 2020 cohort will receive $10,000 in financial support, advisory services and a site visit from NLC staff, as well as an invitation to NLC’s annual resilience summit for the mayor and a staff member. Deadline: December 20. (NLC)

 

National Forest Foundation Matching Awards Program
The National Forest Foundation (NFF) Matching Awards Program provides funding for results-oriented on-the-ground projects that enhance forest health and outdoor experiences on National Forests and Grasslands. Nonprofits, universities, and federally-recognized American tribes with projects aimed at enhancing outdoor experiences, improving forest and ecosystem health, and engaging communities in caring for their public lands are eligible to apply. Sign up for the informational webinar on December 13. Deadline: January 16, 2020. (NFF)

 

FEMA 2019 Flood Mitigation Assistance and Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants
The  Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program has $70 million for two types of community flood mitigation activities: 1) Advance Assistance for flood mitigation design and development of community flood mitigation projects that will subsequently reduce flood claims; and 2) Mitigation projects that address community flood risk for the purpose of reducing NFIP flood claim payments. The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program provides Federal funds to State, Local and Tribal governments to implement and sustain cost-effective measures designed to reduce the risk to individuals and property from natural hazards, while also reducing reliance on Federal funding from future disasters. Deadline: January 31, 2020. (FEMA)

 

WaterSMART Drought Response Program: Drought Contingency Planning Grants
The Bureau of Reclamation invites states, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority to leverage their money and resources by cost-sharing drought contingency planning with Reclamation to build resilience to drought in advance of a crisis. Deadline: February 5, 2020, 4pm MST. (Grants.gov)

 

Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC)
Administered by the Strategic Growth Council and implemented by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), the AHSC Program funds land-use, housing, transportation, and land preservation projects to support infill and compact development that reduce GHG emissions. Deadline: February 11, 2020. (SGC)

 

Strategic Growth Council: Climate Change Research Program Round 3
The Climate Change Research Program is a statewide research initiative that funds outcome-based research advancing the State’s climate goals, focused on climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Projects will demonstrate how State investments can advance climate change goals while building innovative, outcome-driven partnerships between the State, the research community, and other research partners. Deadline: February 12, 2020. (SGC)

 

Transformative Climate Communities: Implementation & Planning Grant Program
The Strategic Growth Council is excited to release the Notice of Funding Availability for Round 3 of the Transformative Climate Communities Program (TCC). Three planning grants for $600,000 each will be available. Planning Grant applicants must complete a mandatory survey by January 15, 2020. Deadline: February 28, 2020. (SGC)

 

California Climate Resilience Challenge
The California Resilience Challenge is a $2 million statewide competition to support innovative projects that address climate change-related threats. Recipients will receive grant awards of up to $200,000 for climate adaptation planning projects. The California Resilience Challenge will provide resources to local communities throughout the state, including cities, counties, California Native American tribes, special districts, and more, that are affected by climate change-related natural disasters. Deadline: February 7, 2020. (California Resilience Challenge)

 

NOAA Environmental Literacy Grants
NOAA’s Office of Education has announced a competitive funding opportunity for projects aimed at strengthening environmental literacy of K-12 students and the public more broadly. NOAA will award approximately $3 million in grants to projects that seek to increase community knowledge about how to build resiliency in the face of extreme weather caused by climate change and teach the community how to achieve that resilience. Deadline: March 26. (Grants.gov)

 

Federal government releases $7 billion to build climate resilience
The money — $7.65 billion in total — aims to make disaster-damaged communities more resilient by paying for reconstruction projects that will withstand increasingly severe storms, hurricanes and other effects of climate change. The funding differs from most federal disaster aid because instead of simply repairing or rebuilding damaged buildings and facilities, communities must spend the recovery money on mitigation projects that “increase resilience to disasters.” California will receive $88 million and has until April 6, 2020, to submit projects. (Federal Register)
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