A Timeline of California’s Climate Adaptation Policy


  • First Climate Change Assessment: California’s climate change assessments deliver best available science to understand how climate change is projected to impact California in the future. California’s first assessment confirmed that lower GHG emissions could significantly reduce climate change impacts on our state. This seminal assessment contributed to the passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB-32) later that year.


  • Executive Order S-13-08: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the state’s first executive order on climate change adaptation, directing the Natural Resources Agency to produce a state climate adaptation strategy and called for state agencies to address sea-level rise.


  • Indicators of Climate Change in California: The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which researches and presents indicators that describe how California’s climate is changing and how these changes are affecting the state, released its first report.
  • Second Climate Change Assessment: The second assessment explored the economic impacts of climate change. Findings contributed to California’s statutory commitment to produce an updated statewide adaptation strategy every three years.
  • First California Climate Adaptation Strategy: The Natural Resources Agency coordinated the state’s first adaptation strategy, which identified 345 goals across seven sectors for state agencies to improve the state’s resilience to climate change.


  • State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance: The Ocean Protection Council released guidance to help state agencies incorporate sea-level rise impacts into their planning, permitting, and investment decisions.


  • Cal-Adapt: The California Energy Commission debuted the Cal-Adapt.org platform to provide a view of how climate change might affect California and connect Californians with tools, data, and resources to inform their climate adaptation actions. Cal-Adapt provides access to the state’s downscaled climate projection data that serve as the foundation to the CA Climate Change Assessments.


  • First California Adaptation Planning Guide: The Natural Resources Agency and Emergency Management Agency published guidance on creating climate vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategies for local decision makers.
  • Third Climate Change Assessment: The third assessment increased understanding of climate vulnerabilities in natural and human systems and supported passage of new climate adaptation laws.


  • Indicators of Climate Change in California: The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment presented 36 indicators tracking trends in atmospheric gases that influence climate, changes in the state's climate, and the impacts of climate change on California's environment and people.
  • Preparing California for Extreme Heat: This report, coordinated by the CA Environmental Protection Agency and the CA Department of Public Health, in coordination with the interagency Climate Action Team, provided recommendations to state agencies for addressing extreme heat in California.


  • Second California Climate Adaptation Strategy: This strategy was designed to provide policy guidance for state decision-makers. It was organized around nine sectors, and identified hundreds of current and needed state agency actions.


  • Climate Change Research Plan: The research plan outlined a comprehensive, cross-sector set of climate research priorities in California. This effort resulted in the first comprehensive climate change research plan developed by any state.
  • California Coastal Commission Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance: The Coastal Commission guidance provided an overview of the best available science on sea-level rise for California and recommended methodology for addressing sea-level rise in Coastal Commission planning and regulatory actions.
  • Executive Order B-30-15: The order highlighted the need for climate adaptation action, and directed state government to: (a) incorporate climate change impacts into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan; (b) update the state climate adaption strategy to identify how climate change will affect California infrastructure and industry and what actions the state can take to reduce the risks posed by climate change; (c) factor climate change into state agencies’ planning and investment decisions; and (d) implement measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • SB 246 (Wieckowski): SB 246 established the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program (ICARP) at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to coordinate local and regional efforts with state climate adaptation strategies. ICARP convenes a Technical Advisory Committee to advance climate adaptation coordination. ICARP also maintains the Adaptation Clearinghouse, California’s one-stop-shop for resources to support local, regional, and statewide climate adaptation efforts.
  • SB 379 (Jackson): SB 379 requires local jurisdictions to include climate adaptation and resilience strategies in the safety elements of their general plans.
  • AB 1482 (Gordon): AB 1482 requires California to release a State Climate Adaptation Strategy every three years.


  • AB 2800 (Quirk): AB 2800 requires all state agencies to consider current and future impacts of climate change in all aspects of infrastructure planning, investment, and maintenance, and directed the Natural Resources Agency to convene the Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group.


  • AB 398 (Garcia): AB 398 identifies climate adaptation and resilience as an ongoing prioritized cap-and-trade auction revenue expenditure category.
  • General Plan Guidelines Update: These guidelines provided guidance to jurisdictions on how to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation throughout their general plans.
  • Cal-Adapt 2.0: The second version of Cal-Adapt expanded the original platform to provide new climate projections, more powerful visualizations, and improved access to data.
  • Planning and Investing for a Resilient California: A Guidebook for State Agencies: The guidebook provided high level guidance on what future climate conditions state agencies should plan for and how state agencies should approach planning differently to adapt to a changing climate.


  • Indicators of Climate Change in California: The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment released its third report, which compiled 36 indicators grouped into four categories: human-influenced drivers of climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions; changes in the state’s climate; impacts of climate change on physical systems, such as oceans and snowpack; and impacts of climate change on biological systems – humans, vegetation and wildlife.
  • Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document Update: The Ocean Protection Council updated previous guidance to support state agencies and local governments in addressing sea-level rise based on best available science.
  • Third California Climate Adaptation Strategy: The third strategy was organized around 11 sectors, and identified over 1,000 recommendations, next steps, and ongoing actions across state agencies to adapt to climate change.
  • Fourth Climate Change Assessment: The fourth assessment outlined projected climate change impacts on all regions in the state, providing actionable science for local and regional decision makers for the first time. This assessment also explored issues of urgent and statewide interest, such as environmental justice and sea-level rise, as well as the inaugural Tribal and Indigenous Communities Report.
  • Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group Recommendations: The working group identified key opportunities to safeguard California from climate change through integrating climate science in infrastructure design.
  • Department of General Services Sustainability Roadmap: The Sustainability Roadmaps identified state facilities most vulnerable to climate change impacts and outlined a plan to incorporate climate resilience measures for new construction, repairs or retrofits.
  • SB 1035 (Jackson): SB 1035 requires local jurisdictions to include and update climate adaptation and resilience strategies in accordance with housing or safety element updates, but no less frequently than every eight years.
  • SB 30 (Lara): SB 30 requires the Department of Insurance convene a working group to recommend risk transfer market mechanisms that: (1) promote investment in natural infrastructure to reduce the risks of climate change related to catastrophic events; (2) create incentives for investment in natural infrastructure to reduce risks to communities; and (3) provide mitigation incentives for private investment in natural lands to lessen exposure and reduce climate risks to public safety, property, utilities, and infrastructure.
  • SB 901 (Dodd): SB 901 enacts a number of initiatives to support the state’s adaptation and resilience to increasingly frequent and extreme wildfires, including changing forest management practices, allocating funding to reduce fuels and improve forest health, and establishing a process for utilities to recoup wildfire-related costs from ratepayers over time.


  • Caltrans Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments: The California Department of Transportation released twelve district-based Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Reports to help the department assess physical climate risk to the transportation system and work towards becoming more resilient.
  • Executive Order N-19-19: This executive order calls for embedding physical climate risk into state asset decision making, for state-owned infrastructure, transportation investments, and investment portfolios. It also required the Department of Finance to work with the State Pension Funds to creates a Climate Investment Framework, including a strategy to align the state’s $700 billion investment portfolio toward industries and sectors that contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and increased resilience to the impacts of climate change.


  • Caltrans Adaptation Priorities Reports: The California Department of Transportation released twelve district-based Adaptation Priorities Reports that include a prioritized list of potentially exposed assets in each Caltrans District.
  • Adaptation Planning Guide Update: This update provided a streamlined approach to adaptation planning, in line with national practice. It was also added as an interactive, online feature to the State Adaptation Clearinghouse.
  • Strategic Plan to Protect California’s Coast and Ocean: This strategy plan sets out critical new actions the state will take to protect our coast and ocean and offers four goals — addressing Climate Change, Equity, Biodiversity, and a Blue Economy—to guide California’s efforts over the next five years to collaboratively catalyze, coordinate, and align key statewide policies, plans, and targets.
  • Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative: This portfolio serves as California’s roadmap to building water resilience through a diverse set of actions that will prepare our water systems to support our growing state in a warmer, more variable climate.
  • Department of General Services Sustainability Roadmap: The 2020-2021 sustainability roadmaps include climate change adaptation, zero-emission vehicles, energy, water efficiency and conservation, and green operation results and planning for future years.
  • Executive Order N-82-20: This executive order directs the state to accelerate nature-based climate solutions that build resilience and contribute to carbon neutrality.
  • SB 1320 (Stern): SB 1320 calls for development of California Climate Change Assessments every five years and defines climate vulnerable communities.


  • Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan: This action plan outlines a comprehensive approach to reduce wildfire risk for vulnerable communities, improve the health of forests and wildlands, and accelerate action to combat climate change.
  • SB 1 (Atkins): SB 1 requires sea-level rise be addressed within the coastal zone and drives better coordination across state government and funding mechanisms to address sea-level rise.
  • California High-Speed Rail Authority Climate Adaptation Plan: The adaptation plan details actions to assess and address climate hazards and increase system resilience.