Last week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report highlighting the scientific evidence behind the accelerating global climate crisis and the implications it has for extreme weather and disaster events.
The report comes at a time when California is experiencing more frequent, reoccurring and record-setting heat events and continues to actively respond to multiple concurrent threats posed by record wildfires, historic drought, energy instability and a generational pandemic.
In response to the report, Mark S. Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and Homeland Security Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, issued the following statement:
“One not need to look any further than California to experience the impacts of climate change. This is an urgent and growing existential threat to our state’s domestic security. The UN report affirms what we as emergency managers and public safety officials are already seeing first-hand, which is that our warming planet is resulting in more frequent and more devastating natural disasters, contributing to supply chain disruptions, economic insecurity and gaps in basic lifeline resources like energy, food and water.
“Much of the work that Cal OES does today to defend our state is directly related to the consequences brought on by a changing climate. It is a state and national security issue, and we must treat it as such. This is a global challenge that calls for our full focus and attention. Urgent action is needed now through mitigation, education, preparedness and enhanced response, so that we do not face even more severe disasters in years to come.”
Currently, California’s Homeland Security Strategy explicitly prioritizes protecting Californians against the effects of climate change. This week Cal OES also inaugurated efforts to comprehensively update the California State Hazard Mitigation Plan to focus more directly on the ability to reduce or eliminate potential risks and impacts of climate-driven disasters in order to promote faster recovery and a more resilient state.
The UN IPCC report follows California’s own scientific assessment that the state is one of the most “climate-challenged” regions of North America.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021/22 budget plan included $2 billion to fight and prevent wildfires and an additional $1.3 billion climate resilience package to prepare for extreme heat, sea level rise, and environmental priorities like toxic site clean-up, and pollution control.