Updates from Resilient Virginia: December 2016

Resilient Virginia

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Perspectives as 2016 Draws to a Close

Note from Annette Osso, Managing Director, Resilient Virginia

I recently had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Amoy Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute founder and chief scientist, as well as a webinar that recapped the extensive work our federal government has carried out to develop programs supporting climate change resiliency. In this issue of Updates, I provide summaries of these events and links to more information. As citizens of Virginia and the U.S.A., we need to stay informed about the risks we face because of the changing climate and related economic and social stresses. Conversely, we should educate ourselves about the competitive advantages of developing business solutions to energy, environmental, and security challenges.

Amory Lovins and the “Soft Energy Path” 40 Years Later

Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute founder and chief scientist, provided his observations on what he got right in his seminal 1976 Foreign Affairs article on the “soft energy path” at a November 2 event at The Brookings Institution. He was joined in a panel discussion by several Brookings Institution colleagues, and other esteemed representatives of the energy and academic world.

At the time the article was written, U.S. security and energy independence were threatened by oil market instability. Lovins recommended that the country move away from fossil fuels and nuclear power and move toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. This path would offer myriad benefits, including environmental protection, lower costs, and great consumer choice. Lovins observed that market forces are moving economies around the world toward renewables and efficiency at an accelerated pace today. This movement is particularly important in view of the climate change challenges we face due to continued emissions of greenhouse gases, the majority of which are from fossil fuels.

You can view the entire presentation here and find out more about the initiatives of Rocky Mountain Institute, which is working on transformative energy solutions for China and many other countries, the U.S. military, and corporations, at www.rmi.org/.

Resilience Opportunities Report Summarizes Gains

The White House Council on Environmental Quality sponsored a November webinar that reviewed the Resilience Opportunities Report. This report discusses the steps that the Obama administration has taken to address resiliency building initiatives and outlines key opportunities for advancing climate resilience moving forward.

From the Report:

Climate change affects every community and economic sector in the United States. Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, increases in the intensity and frequency of certain extreme weather events, changing precipitation patterns, and other impacts are affecting people throughout the Nation. Higher temperatures and more frequent and intense heat waves drive up energy costs; raise the risk of heat-related illness; and threaten crops, fisheries, recreation, and the reliability of water and food supplies. Sea level rise threatens coastlines and ports and can fuel higher storm surge.

The interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (Resilience Council) was formed to coordinate work on programs across Federal agencies. The Resilience Council has worked with state, local, and tribal leaders, community organizations, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to advance climate science and support on-the-ground decisions. To build upon and sustain this work, the Resilience Council identified a set of key opportunities using the expertise and experience within Federal agencies and the perspectives of numerous stakeholders. These opportunities will guide sustained and coordinated action among Federal agencies and empower stakeholders to work with them on a shared resilience agenda.

The Resilience Council developed these opportunities using the following principles, which should continue to guide actions for climate resilience:

  • Climate resilience should incorporate meaningful community engagement, fair and equitable outcomes, and targeted investments for communities that are often overlooked;
  • Climate resilience should be coordinated among multiple stakeholders—including all levels of government, academic institutions, companies, and nonprofits—through partnerships, shared knowledge and resources, and coordinated strategies;
  • Climate resilience should be mainstreamed into everyday decision making; and
  • Climate resilience should be a factor in fiscally responsible investments.

The United States has come a long way in understanding the effects of climate change, organizing communities, strengthening infrastructure, protecting natural and cultural resources, developing technology, and planning for the future. Federal leadership remains important to understand climate change; improve the resilience of Federal Government missions, operations, and programs that serve communities; and support community efforts to enhance resilience.

The Nation’s resilience depends upon many decisions and actions that strengthen the ability to respond and adapt to the changing climate. Fortifying homes and buildings against storms and flooding, conserving and restoring vulnerable ecosystems, and helping communities plan for weather-related hazards are just a few ways in which Americans are already working to build climate resilience. Though many of these efforts are underway, more work remains to build climate resilience throughout the Nation.

Many resources and programs are mentioned in the Report. Of particular note:

  • The Third National Climate Assessment Report. The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (CRT). The CRT is an online resource designed to help people find and use information, tools, and subject matter expertise to build climate resilience. It includes a step-by-step guide for issues to consider in resilience planning, case studies, science-based tools, topical narratives, authoritative reports, regional experts, and training courses. It also includes the recently updated Climate Explorer, a visualization tool that provides county-level climate projections, enabling users to see how climate change will affect their own backyards.
  • Examples of community efforts in the Report include the Hampton Roads Intergovernmental Pilot Program. You can view their final Phase 2 Report here and find out more about their continuing activities at www.centerforsealevelrise.org.

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RESILIENT VIRGINIA CALENDAR

Highlights for January 2017

In addition to these events, check our Resilient Events Calendar on a regular basis to find out what is happening in Virginia and virtually through webinars.

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