Climate Resilience Portal

At-a-glance

  • Even as we work to avert the worst potential impacts of climate change, we must become more resilient to those impacts that are now unavoidable.
  • Businesses prepare for risks every day and can factor climate risks into existing risk management frameworks to become more climate-resilient.
  • Governments have an important role to play in updating infrastructure and helping communities cope with extreme weather, sea-level rise and other climate impacts.

Climate resilience is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate. Improving climate resilience involves assessing how climate change will create new, or alter current, climate-related risks, and taking steps to better cope with these risks.

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, climate change will continue to accelerate. Even if emissions were to stop today, the climate would continue to change for some time as the Earth’s system responds to the warming already underway. It makes sense to anticipate changes and act now to minimize future economic and social risks.

Climate resilience is often associated with acute events – like heavy downpours, hurricanes, or wildfires – that will become more frequent or intense as the climate changes. However, good resilience planning also accounts for chronic events, like rising sea levels, worsening air quality, and population migration. Businesses and governments alike are planning now for the environment and economy they will face in the future.

Examples of Resilience Planning

  • The Department of Defense released a Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap in 2014 highlighting how climate change is heightening national security challenges and potential impacts on the military and its facilities.
  • Climate Resilience Design Guidelines for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ensure that new infrastructure and buildings are designed to account for projected changes in temperature, precipitation, and sea
  • In the private sector, companies like Pacific Gas and Electric have identified a range of potential risks to their business in a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and are taking a multi-faceted approach to address them.

Overview of Resilience Solutions

Here’s an overview of resilience solutions for businesses, states and cities, with links to additional resources:

Business Resilience Solutions: Businesses take a variety of approaches in addressing risks, and often view climate change as a “threat multiplier” that makes existing risks worse. Business initiatives to build resilience include developing disaster recovery plans, adding onsite energy resources like combined heat and power systems or rooftop solar, and identifying backup supply and distribution chains. Small businesses may deploy different strategies like installing green roofs for water retention and communicating preparedness information to employees.

C2ES examines how companies are preparing for climate risks,  the strategies they are using to build resilience, and what is keeping them from doing more in Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change and Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resilience.

State Resilience Solutions: State governments are crucial in convening local and private interests related to climate change, and pooling the resources and expertise of the many departments or agencies that can be affected by or help address climate change. Fifteen states currently have climate adaptation or resilience plans, (with five more states currently developing them). States can be influential by adopting resilience practices in state-owned assets and operations and by adopting policies that mandate or incentivize climate resilience in insurance, transportation, and building codes. For example, Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council includes changing sea levels in its special area management plan for communities on the shoreline.

C2ES explores what states are doing on our State Action on Resilience page and explores how they can engage with businesses in Framework for Engaging Small- and Medium-sized Businesses in Maryland on Climate Resilience.

City Resilience Solutions: Cities and smaller communities face a variety of challenges, whether they’re new, like sea level rise, or existing, like flooding or drought. Cities have developed standalone resilience plans, like Pittsburgh’s Resilience Strategy, while others have included resilience planning into master plans (e.g. Keene, New Hampshire) and hazard mitigation plans (e.g. Lewes, Delaware, and Baltimore). New Orleans developed a resilience strategy to implement throughout city operations resulting in new resilience design standards for public works, an updated zoning ordinance and embedding resilience outcomes within the city’s budgeting process.

C2ES breaks down what cities are doing on our City Action on Resilience page, and explores how they are engaging businesses in our Guide to Public-Private Collaboration on City Climate Resilience Planning.

Financing Resilience: The upfront cost of building resilience is a challenge, as is the need to set aside funds often needed for short-term projects. However, governments and businesses are obtaining capital to invest in resilience projects through innovative finance mechanisms like green bonds and climate funds. States that participate in emissions-trading systems also allocate proceeds to resilience projects. In addition, many federal and state insurance offices and private insurers offer lower rates for taking steps to reduce climate risks, providing additional savings later.

C2ES looks at innovative ways to finance infrastructure resilience on our Financing Resilience page.

C2ES thanks the Bank of America for its support, which allowed us to develop our Climate Resilience Portal. As a fully independent organization, C2ES is solely responsible for its positions, programs, and publications.