Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Report: PA Better Prepared For Climate-Driven Threats Than Most States

LancasterOnline.com reported Tuesday on a report showing Pennsylvania was among 5 states given an “A” grade on how prepared it is to meet climate-driven, weather-related threats.
The report, States At Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card, is a collaboration of the website Climate Central and ICF International.
“Pennsylvania is one of the leaders in preparing for the future changes in climate risks. It faces only average or below average threat levels from the four climate threats assessed, and in addition to taking strong action to address these threats in the present, Pennsylvania has taken steps to understand and plan for its climate-change related risks,” the report said.
“Still, Pennsylvania could do more to solidify its plans and much more to put them into action.”
The report covers 5 specific threats: extreme heat, drought, wildfires, inland flooding, and coastal flooding.  For Pennsylvania, the report said--
-- Extreme Heat- B+: Despite having a large number of people at elevated vulnerability to extreme heat, Pennsylvania faces a generally modest threat from extreme heat. With several climate change preparation assessments already complete, Pennsylvania has done much more than the typical state to prepare for future extreme heat threats.
-- Drought- A: Owing in large part to a thorough and detailed state water plan, Pennsylvania is one of the leaders among states in preparing for climate change-related drought risks. Combined with its low threat level, this high level of action earns the state an A.
-- Inland Flooding- B+: Pennsylvania has taken more action to understand its vulnerabilities to climate change-related inland flooding risks, and to plan for those changes, than most states. To improve its preparedness, the state should increase its efforts to put those plans into action.
-- Coastal Flooding- B-: A small portion of Pennsylvania's coast lies along the tidal portion of Delaware Bay; the state faces the second smallest threat from coastal flooding in the country. Pennsylvania's level of preparedness is typical among coastal states.
-- Wildfires- N/A: Grades were assigned only when threats were identified as priorities for that state.
In a more detailed discussion of the actions Pennsylvania has taken on the 5  climate-related threats, the report also found--
-- Addressing Current Risks: Strong;
-- Conducting Vulnerability Assessments: On 4 of the threats ranked a Strong, Extreme Heat was Fair;
-- Planning for Adaptation: On 4 of the threats ranked a Strong, Inland Flood was Fair;
-- Implementing Resilience Actions: Drought- Fair, Extreme Heat and Coastal Flooding- Limited and on Inland Flooding- None.
Among the actions already taken were--
— The Pennsylvania Department of Health keeps state-level statistics on the counts of deaths from inland flooding and exposure to excessive heat.
— Pennsylvania continuously tracks precipitation, streamflow, groundwater levels, soil moisture, and reservoir levels, providing real-time data and analysis of drought and  ooding conditions throughout the state.
— The Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment includes extensive information on modeling of future temperature, precipitation, and sea level rise, and projected impacts on different sectors throughout the state.
— The Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report contains a discussion of adaptation measures for infrastructure and public health to address current and future risks, including drought, sea level rise, precipitation, and temperature.
— The State Water Plan incorporates climate change projections for temperature, precipitation and drought, and sea level
rise into its policy recommendations intended to promote sustainable water services in the state.
Among the weaknesses cited where--
-- No evidence of of cial state funding or policies across sectors examined to improve resilience against climate change-related extreme heat, inland  ooding, drought, or coastal  ooding.
-- Very little evidence of action to incorporate climate change projections associated with extreme heat or drought into state- level programs, investments, and activities across the sectors examined. No evidence of action to incorporate climate change projections associated with inland and coastal flooding.
-- The Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report has not included formal incorporation of previous adaptation recommendations.
Overall, the analysis found that states across the country are largely unprepared to face the considerable and significantly increasing threat levels posed by the future changes in these 5 climate threats.
California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York also earned an “A.”
A copy of the report is available online.
For more information on climate issues in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Climate Change and the Climate Change Advisory Committee webpages.
Report: PA Better Prepared For Climate-Driven Threats

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