This policy brief presents short- and medium-term recommendations for western states adapting to the effects of climate change. The recommendations for state and local policy can be enacted in the short (1-3 years) and medium (3-10 years) term. The authors evaluate California’s wildfire, energy, and climate change adaptation policies using the set of evaluation metrics discussed in each section, and highlight areas where states can enact adaptation policy. The authors use an energy justice frame in their analysis, a framework which “centers the concerns of marginalized communities” in the energy system and “aims to make energy more accessible, affordable, clean, and democratically managed.
This brief emphasizes that each state should have a well-defined strategic plan to adapt to the effects of climate change as they relate to energy systems and wildfire risk. Adaptive governance principles should be followed, integrating federal, regional, state, local, and tribal governments. The plan should be developed collaboratively through an equitable process with most-impacted communities. The plan must, at the minimum, observe that funding structures to enact this plan are not regressive or unsustainable; utilities must proactively plan for more resilient, distributed, renewable energy systems; local resilience must be prioritized, accessible, and supported; and the principles of impacted-community governance, transparency, data justice, and accountability must be centered in order to make informed decisions that respect the rights to both life and privacy.