Overview of the California Climate Adaptation Strategy

Setting the Stage

Climate resilience and adaptation are often discussed together, but it is helpful to distinguish between them:

  • Adaptation is an action or set of actions that reduce physical climate risk.
  • Resilience describes a state of readiness to face climate risks.

California is taking steps to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate at the state, regional, and local levels. Preparing for these changes is called adaptation. A series of adaptive steps contribute to resilience.

Our Challenge

California is a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a carbon-neutral future. Our state’s economy has continued to grow as carbon pollution has decreased. As we push toward carbon neutrality, we must protect our communities and natural environment from the climate crisis already here. In the last decade, Californians have endured severe droughts, floods, historic wildfires, rising seas, and record temperatures all driven by climate change. Californians now see, feel, and breathe what scientists have been explaining for decades: greenhouse gas pollution is warming our planet and generating threats to life on earth.

Our Opportunity

The choices we make today will define California’s future. We can help our state’s residents, communities, and natural places adapt and weather impacts from climate change. Strengthening the climate resilience of all Californians demands that we take a range of climate-focused actions, while also addressing deep-rooted systemic inequities. The 2021 Adaptation Strategy provides a framework for bold adaptation solutions that fully integrate equity into California’s climate resilience programs.

Our Approach

California is statutorily required to release an updated climate adaptation strategy every three years. The 2021 Strategy builds on the successes and lessons learned since our first iteration in 2009. It also integrates key elements of the latest sector-specific plans, such as the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy, Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan, Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure, and Water Resilience Portfolio. Key elements of our approach:

01. Set updated, strategic direction and identify outcome-based priorities.

The Strategy links together the state’s existing, planned, and resourced climate adaptation efforts, showing how they fit together to achieve broad climate resilience priorities. The Strategy also specifies needed actions, with timeframes and metrics, to drive progress and enable accountability.

02. Unify efforts across all sectors and regions.

The Strategy is organized around outcome-based priorities, rather than individual sectors, enabling a coordinated, integrated approach to building climate resilience. This approach recognizes how climate adaptation is implemented on the ground, and reflects our commitment to integrating climate resilience into the work of all state agencies. The priorities have been developed based on input from Californians across all regions of the state and in consultation with California Native American tribes.

03. Help all Californians understand and contribute to California’s climate resilience.

The 2021 Strategy is released as an interactive website that serves as a hub for state climate resilience action. This website will be updated to reflect progress and make adjustments, and will allow for Californians to easily access information on our efforts.