Lessons from 17 U.S. Communities on Reducing Climate Change Risks
Jason Vogel, PhD. Communities across the U.S. are taking steps to adapt and respond to climate change. These actions and the lessons these communities have learned is the focus of a new report from the Kresge Foundation and Abt Associates.
“Climate Adaptation: The State of Practice in U.S. Communities” provides an in-depth review of the actions 17 communities are taking to address extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves, as well as climate variability and climate change.
"Local communities are adapting to climate change and will need to continue to do so to prepare for its impacts,” said Jason Vogel, Abt climate change specialist and lead author of the report. “Local and state actors are not waiting for the federal government, they are already moving forward with this work, as illustrated by our research."
The report digs deeply into why and how communities implemented actions to reduce their vulnerability to climate risks. Each of the 17 communities are profiled in case studies as part of the report. They are: Avalon, N.J., Baltimore, Boston, Chula Vista, Calif., Cleveland, El Paso County, Texas, Flagstaff, Ariz., Fort Collins, Colo., Grand Rapids, Mich., Miami-Dade County, Fla., Coastal Mobile County, Ala., Norfolk, Va., Oakland, Calif., Seattle, Southwestern Crown, Mont., Spartanburg, S.C., and Tulsa, Okla.
- Communities already are taking action: More communities are preparing for climate risk than previously thought. While communities did not always set out to adapt because of climate change, they made efforts to support improvements to infrastructure, health, or community welfare, which in turn supported adaptation;
- Communities already have the tools: Most of the 17 communities profiled used common tools such as policies, ordinances, and bond initiatives to implement their adaptation efforts. They often worked across departments and organizations to galvanize community support and take action;
- More holistic work addressing climate change is needed: While these communities have made progress on climate change, their efforts need to be expanded and coordinated. Climate change risks are widespread and adaptation efforts are more effective as part of a comprehensive, collaborative approach; and
- The time is now: There is no reason to wait to reduce current and future climate risk. Waiting does not guarantee more or better information, but it does lose valuable time during which climate risks are growing.