Atlantic - Planning to Rise Above an Uncertain Climate Future for Coastal Carolinas Region
Communities across the Carolinas are beginning to recognize that the future we face will be very different from the past.
The climate is changing and predictions are that weather conditions will be more variable and more intense. North Carolina’s own climate risk assessment report acknowledges that future conditions will have more intense storms and associated flooding, more heat and drought, and that the seas will continue to rise.
All of this will put an enormous strain on our cities’ infrastructure – e.g. roads, stormwater, water and sewer pipes, septic systems, electrical transmission, and more. All of these systems were designed to accommodate the milder environmental stresses of the past. In addition to FEMA’s pending Risk Rating 2.0 reassessment of flood risk, credit rating agency Moody’s recent acquisition of a climate risk analysis firm signals a likely adjustment of city bond ratings based on exposure to increased climate-associated risks (including rising seas and saltwater intrusion, heat stress, stronger storms, greater flooding, etc.) and any actions planned by the jurisdiction to mitigate those risks.
PLAN FOR CHANGE
Communities across the nation are beginning to realize that if they use the best available science now and plan for change, they can mitigate the worst impacts and position themselves for a better tomorrow. The NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency recently released some quick start guidance on this issue.
The Georgetown Climate Center is tracking adaptation planning efforts across the nation. While the Carolinas currently have very few plans on the map, some communities are making incremental progress toward more climate resilient community design. Often this occurs in a piecemeal fashion, with mitigating actions or projects being inserted into plans as they are updated. Increasingly, communities are creating standalone Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Plans, which identify risks, vulnerability, mitigating actions, and then program resources to achieve those plans.