Department of Ecology News Release - April 3, 2012
OLYMPIA – While Washingtonians have experience with natural weather variability, changing climate conditions are increasing our exposure to extreme weather events, destructive wildfires, severe droughts and declining water supplies due to reduced snowpack.
In recognition of Washington’s vulnerability to climate change risks, the Washington Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire directed state agencies to develop an integrated climate change response strategy to enable state, tribal and local governments, and public and private organizations to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of changing climate conditions.
The report, “Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State’s Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy,” was prepared by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) in collaboration with the state departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Fish and Wildlife, Health, Natural Resources, and Transportation. The state agencies drew on the policy, management and scientific expertise of a broad range of stakeholders to develop the recommendations that are the basis of the report. The report outlines strategies for protecting human health, safeguarding infrastructure and transportation systems, improving water management, reducing losses to agriculture and forestry, protecting sensitive and vulnerable species, and supporting communities by involving the public. It lays out a framework that decision-makers can use to help protect Washington’s communities, natural resources and economy from the impacts of climate change.
The strategy is available online.
“By taking action now, we have a better chance of protecting Washington’s people, jobs, economy and natural resources from climate change risks, taking advantage of our unique position in the Pacific Northwest to increase our competitiveness and helping build resilient communities,” Gov. Gregoire said. “It’s good government and good business to consider climate impacts as part of our ongoing work. That’s what this Response Strategy is about.”
If no action is taken, long-term costs of climate-related impacts are projected to reach nearly $10 billion a year by 2020 from increased health costs, storm damage, coastal destruction, rising energy costs, increased wildfires, drought and other impacts. (More information on the economic impacts of a changing climate is available online.)
“Though we have more to learn, the science clearly shows that impacts from climate change are already occurring in Washington, and are projected to increase,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “The impacts to our quality of life are potentially enormous, so it only makes sense that we get smart about minimizing those impacts in the long run. This report is a big first step down that road. And who knows, maybe as people better understand what climate change means locally, we might see more demand for serious greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts.”
Response strategies identified in the Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy include:
Media Contact: Dan Partridge, 360-407-7139; email@example.com
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