New York State’s adaptation and mitigation measures are securing a climate resilient future for its citizens: New briefing

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7 July 2016

NEW YORK: New York State’s adaptation and mitigation measures are securing a climate resilient future for its citizens, a new briefing from The Climate Group shows.

As part of the States & Regions program, the document highlights the Policy Innovation program’s Adaptation Peer Forum – which allows the world’s leading state and regional governments to share learnings on climate policy.

In fact, the new Paris Agreement reached at the COP21 climate talks last year places climate adaptation on a par with climate mitigation – presenting an unprecedented global focus on climate resilience at all levels of government.

As well as including a long-term adaptation goal, the Agreement recognizes that different countries need flexibility to accommodate their unique circumstances, allowing national adaptation communications to be tailored to their needs and collective progress to be tracked.

For many jurisdictions, engaging with local authorities and communities is already emerging as a key driver for action on climate adaptation. But this momentum on climate adaptation also casts light on the need for new measures that integrate with climate mitigation.

The vast majority of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – the national climate plans submitted in advance of COP21 – included not only countries’ plans to reduce emissions, but also their adaptation goals and needs. This has generated a whole new set of data, including building climate resilience in the agriculture, health and water sectors.

CLIMATE SOLUTION SHARING

In order to succeed, such ambition must be coupled with participation from governments at all levels. States and regions in particular are already setting ambitious climate targets and leading the way on innovative climate and energy policy, shaping the world’s future policy landscape.

Led by the Government of South Australia, The Climate Group’s Adaptation Peer Forum, as part of its States & Regions Policy Innovation program, enables in-depth global peer learning on innovative climate adaptation approaches. Working with several members of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance, the Adaptation Peer Forum accelerates global learning, builds strong relationships and identifies emerging adaptation policies to boost climate resiliency across these states and regions.

More than two thirds of The Climate Group’s States & Regions members have adaptation plans in place. For example, Bavaria in Germany has an Adaptation Strategy that provides detailed climate modelling and forecasts, California in the US helps local and regional actors identify climate risks, and Australia’s New South Wales boasts an online portal, which provides adaptation solutions directly to citizens.

The Climate Group’s latest briefing looks in-depth at how New York State in particular, a member of the States & Regions Alliance network, is effectively integrating climate adaptation, as well as mitigation actions.

Image: Climate action of the New York State to date

NEW YORK STATE’S APPROACH

The State of New York developed the Climate Smart Communities Program seven years ago, to engage with local communities on climate change. The voluntary program helps communities minimize the risks of climate change and reduce its long-term costs by adopting general pledges, which focus on local priorities. Certification points are then awarded to demonstrate the community’s commitment to local climate programs.

New York State is already experiencing record increases in temperatures, sea-level rise and extreme storms, and the New York Office of Climate Change suggests that the devastating storms New York has suffered since 2010 are the reason Governor Cuomo is focused on reducing emissions and investing in climate resilient infrastructure and other adaptive measures.

“By providing governments with the opportunities, resources and expertise they need to learn from one another’s experiences, The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance drives the pace of climate policy development and adoption at the state and regional levels,” comments Mark Lowery, Climate Policy Analyst at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“By participating in these unique peer forums, governments have the opportunity to join an international network of policymakers and experts that gathers best practices and effective, transferrable solutions.

“We had the chance to present New York State’s approach to climate adaptation and mitigation with local communities to jurisdictions from all over the world, and the feedback, questions and comments that we received were all very valuable to us.”

Through the Policy Innovation program, The Climate Group also provide a forum for peer-to-peer learning on other crucial matters that support member states to shape the right set of policies, including small and medium-sized enterprises engagement programs, electric vehicles, carbon pricing and clean tech innovation.

by Virginia Bagnoli

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