Weather extremes threaten California’s water, gas, electric, and transportation systems and natural ecosystems. For example, coastal highways must be realigned. The electrical grid must be upgraded to handle an increasing number of extreme heat days. Rural communities dependent on shallow groundwater wells need drought-proof supplies. Millions of flammable trees killed by drought-related disease must be managed across California forests. Public health, emergency response, and job training warrant investment, too.

AECOM’s Sustainable Economics Practice partnered with Resources Legacy Fund to produce a report that synthesizes information local, regional, and state leaders need to begin securing the money to pay for climate change adaptation and resilience projects. The report gives a foundational understanding of existing constraints and opportunities so that project leaders and policy makers can better address critical infrastructure needs to build a more equitable and resilient California.

The report recommends ways cities, counties, water districts, utilities, state agencies, private companies, and other entities can make the investments California needs to thrive despite climate change:

  • Integrate resilience requirements and design principles into all infrastructure-related policies, programs, and investment decisions.
  • Adopt disclosure requirements that will steer investors toward projects and institutions exposed to less climate (and thus financial) risk.
  • Increase market incentives (such as insurance discounts) for projects that increase resilience.
  • Develop more and better data about climate risk and share data and adaptation lessons learned in accessible formats.
  • Invest in cost-benefit analyses to demonstrate what we already know: The cost of doing nothing is more expensive than paying for adaptation.
  • Make sure the funding and financing for resilience projects includes all phases, from predevelopment to maintenance and renewal.
  • Coordinate adaptation across jurisdictions to achieve efficiency of scale.
  • Pursue multi-function projects that qualify for a wide range of funding sources.
  • Engage communities early, often, and always to deliver projects that communities need and support.
  • Encourage private sector participation in projects but include requirements and metrics to ensure the private sector role advances public goals.