State legislature approves measure to strengthen California’s response to climate change

Today, the California state legislature passed legislation authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel to help California better address the global climate crisis. If signed, Assembly Bill 1384 would empower California’s state agencies and departments to implement comprehensive climate adaptation strategies that outline governance, goals, and metrics to ensure the state meets its climate adaptation goals.

“Climate change is real and is impacting communities throughout California on a daily basis,” said Gabriel. “Extreme heat, explosive wildfires, rising sea levels and worsening droughts are evidence of our new climate reality — and must be a call to action. Our bill will ensure that California meets these challenges with greater urgency, and with an equity lens that prioritizes vulnerable communities most impacted by our climate crisis.”

California has seen rising average temperatures, destructive fires, higher sea levels, severe drought, and floods. According to California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, findings for the state show that our average daily temperature is projected to increase by 5 to 9 degrees. By the year 2100, the water supply from snowpack is projected to decline by two-thirds. By the year 2050, California’s agricultural production could face water shortages of up to 16 percent. Additionally, the frequency of extreme wildfires would surge, and the average area burned statewide would increase by approximately 77 percent. Already, many lives and whole communities have been lost or destroyed. Important species, trees, agriculture, and entire ecosystems which Californians depend on for vital resources are on the brink of collapse.

While the legislature has enacted frameworks and endorsed various policy recommendations, California still lacks governance, prioritization and metrics on critical priority actions and timelines to achieve climate adaptation goals at a statewide level. AB 1384 addresses this gap by tasking the California Natural Resources Agency and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research with developing timetables and metrics that will help to track progress and facilitate timely, concrete action toward achieving California’s climate goals.

AB 1384 also directs state agencies to utilize an equity lens in the creation of these timetables and metrics — requiring the identification of and provision of special protections for vulnerable communities and industries disproportionately affected by climate change, as well as an emphasis on collaborative cross-sector initiatives between state agencies. These coordinated efforts are crucial for ensuring the state is prepared and proactive to future changes to the climate.

“Community Nature Connection is excited to see AB 1384 move to the Governor’s desk,” said Marissa Lannes, executive director at Community Nature Connection. “California has long been a climate leader in aiming to address both the environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change, and AB 1384 will provide the state with the tools it needs to measure progress towards these goals.”

The bill now moves to the governor’s desk, where it must be signed by Sept. 30.