Conservation Commission News

Proposed plan would guide Washington’s efforts to better prepare for and deal with climate impacts

Proposed plan would guide Washington’s efforts to better prepare for and deal with climate impacts

Climate change is already increasing the severity of wildfires, heatwaves, droughts, and floods in Washington. Slower, less visible impacts caused by climate change, like sea level rise and ocean acidification, are also putting added stress on our state ’s communities, infrastructure, and the natural environment.

“Climate change is already harming every corner of our state,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “We must do more to protect the health of our people, our environment, and our economy from the devastating impacts of climate change.”

To help Washington prepare for these impacts, the Washington Department of Ecology is working with other state agencies to update Washington’s Climate Resilience Strategy by Sept. 30. The agency has now released a draft of that strategy and is seeking public comment on the plan.

The draft Climate Resilience Strategy identifies ways state agencies can take action and aid climate-response activities through existing and newly proposed work. It highlights current climate response work by agencies to address flooding, drought, and wildfire risks.

The draft also proposes new actions that address the highest climate change risks and vulnerabilities in Washington, such as doing more to address impacts of extreme heat, smoke, and changing water availability. The new plan places a special focus on identifying which people and communities might bear a greater burden of the impacts of climate change or who may need additional resources to address those impacts.

Some examples of proposed new climate resilience actions include:

- Saving lives from extreme heat by implementing comprehensive actions to reduce exposure to heat, such as funding additional cooling infrastructure in facilities that serve vulnerable populations, increasing tree cover and shade structures, and enhancing outreach and warning systems for extreme heat events.

- Reducing wildfire smoke risks by incorporating smoke into hazard mitigation plans, providing grants to improve indoor air quality, and coordinating prescribed burn events to reduce smoke impacts.

- Addressing changes to water availability through actions such as increasing water conservation, supporting funding for drought planning and large-scale integrated water initiatives like in the Walla Walla and Yakima Basins, and improving our understanding of the changes to our water availability under climate change.

This strategic work is funded by the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which also generates revenue to support the recommended investments identified in the plan, such as restoring floodplains and improving salmon habitat and reducing wildfire risk by improving forest health.

Additionally, the CCA works alongside targeted emission reduction policies to help the state reduce climate pollution 95% by 2050 — a milestone set in state law in order to meet the reductions scientists say are needed to prevent even more severe impacts on our state.  “We’re anticipating, preparing for, and adapting to these changes to minimize the damage they will cause our state and our families,” said Laura Watson, Ecology’s director. “Working together, across our state agencies, will help us deliver more equitable and effective actions for Washingtonians, and help us to protect our environment and communities from the effects of climate change.”

Provide input

Part of this work is gathering public feedback from those affected by climate change on the draft strategy. Ecology will hold a public comment period starting at midnight June 11 through 11:59 p.m. July 11.

We want to know what more the state can do, in your opinion, to help our communities prepare for, adapt to, and reduce the damage caused to people and the environment. People can provide written comments via eComments.

Ecology will also host a series of virtual listening sessions. The agency’s climate resilience strategy staff will present an overview of the draft strategy, answer questions and invite feedback from attendees.

Comment online

Comments can be  shared using Ecology's SmartComment tool.

Listening sessions

Thursday, June 20, 10 a.m. to noon: Register here

Wednesday, June 26, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Register here

Tuesday, July 2, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Register here

Learn more

Washington’s Climate Resilience Strategy webpage

Climate Commitment Act webpage