City’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to be presented to City Council Tuesday

The effects of climate change are here now, causing a host of problems that are in need of rapid solutions lest things become disastrously worse and reach the most dire predictions made by climate scientists.

In an attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change that are attacking Long Beach, the city has put together a comprehensive Climate Action and Adaptation Plan with input from scientists, business people, city leaders and the public. The CAAP, a requirement by the state, establishes a framework for creating or updating its policies, programs, practices, and incentives to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas footprint while enhancing local economic, environmental, and social benefits. The ambitious plan is being presented at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, after which, with council’s initial approval, it will proceed through an Environmental Impact Report, which could be finished by the fall.

The mammoth document and its appendices clocks in at more than 900 pages and tackles the main challenges of climate change: drought, sea level rise and flooding, extreme heat and air quality.

Several comprehensive environmental reports including the Fourth Annual Climate AssessmentRising Seas in California, a study led by Gary Griggs of the University of California Santa Cruz; the California Natural Resources Agency; and the California Energy Commission have made projections that the city has used for its report on climate stressors that forecast seven to 12 additional extreme heat days (with highs of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) in Long Beach by mid century and as many as 33 additional extreme heat days by the end of the century, all attended by less cooling at night.

The rise in temperatures will increase air pollution formation, along with wildfires and energy consumption that could also worsen air quality.

A drought trend is forecast to continue with longer and more frequent dry seasons, while higher temperatures will lead to greater water demand, which will be in increasingly shorter supply with reduced snowpack in watersheds that supply Long Beach with water.

And, of course, sea level rise plays a big role for coastal cities. The National Resources Center and other studies predict a rise of 5 to 24 inches by mid century, depending on the severity of measures taken to forestall it, and an end-of-century forecast of sea level rise of up to 65.6 inches.

The Los Angeles Region Report of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which relies on a scenario characterized by increasing greenhouse gas emissions over time, projects a 1- to 2-feet of sea level rise by 2050, and more extreme projections lead to 8 to 10 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century.

Griggs noted when he was interviewed for the Post’s series on climate change, “You only need 2 to 5 feet for it to be a disaster. Even a 1-foot rise will get a lot of low areas underwater,” he said. “And we’re on a trajectory of a worst-case scenario rather than a best-case.”

The CAAP report tackles most of the things that can go wrong in Long Beach from climate change, and recommends steps to take to lessen those problems, steps that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars if they were all to be put into effect immediately.

City planner Jennifer Ly, who has played a key role in the development of CAAP, says that the plan is meant to prepare the city for the effects of climate change and how to focus attention on what needs to be done and when, and to align those needs with the city’s budget.

Ly said that future actions recommended by CAAP to fight the effects of climate change would likely be a combination of what’s most necessary and what the city can afford financially.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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