Florida releases a climate-change action plan

October 19, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate solutions | Leave a comment
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While the U.S. Congress has failed to pass legislation that would establish CO2 emissions reduction goals, individual states have been getting busy. 

According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, at least 31 states have created plans that outline climate-change “mitigation” goals.  The plans outline a mix of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, from forest restoration efforts to energy-efficiency improvements. 

Last week, the state of Florida became the latest to jump on this new climate-planning bandwagon.

Republican Governor Charlie Crist issued an executive order in 2007, which tasked the state’s Department of Environmental Protection with developing a plan to deal with climate change. The result – “Florida’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan” – was released Oct. 15.

The plan outlines 50 recommendations that its makers calculate would reduce emissions 51 percent below 2005 levels, and 33 percent below 1990 levels.  The reductions would be accomplished by making changes in a number of sectors: energy supply and demand, agriculture, forestry, waste management, transportation and land use.

As opposed to costing the state money, the planners estimate the policies will save the state $28 billion between 2009 and 2025, an average net savings of $18 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions removed. 

Along with “mitigation” policies, Florida’s plan also addresses “adaptation” measures, which look at how to prepare the state for changes in climate that it may be too late to avoid.  According to the plan:

Adaptation represents a unique challenge for Florida. The product of the adaptation investigation is a comprehensive planning framework to guide Florida over the coming years and decades to manage climate impacts that Floridians will likely face regardless of the success of state, national, or international mitigation efforts. 

Adaptation was a controversial concept for many years in environmentalist circles, the fear being that if it received attention it could undermine efforts to gain support for mitigation policies.  Some believed it might prompt people to ask ‘why change if we can adapt?’

The tide is now turning, however, as policymakers and officials are starting to worry about how climate change could impact sea level, water resources, and storm frequency, among other things. 

Florida, in particular, is extremely vulnerable to sea level rise and higher storm surges. 

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