Forecasts and Planning Tools

Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments

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About the Guidebook

Within a handful of decades, climate in many parts of the United States is expected to be significantly warmer than even the warmest years of the 20th century, increasing the risk of drought, flooding, forest fires, disease, and other impacts across many regions.

Public decision makers have a critical opportunity – and a need – to start preparing today for the impacts of climate change. Preparing for climate change is not a “one size fits all” process, however. Just as the impacts of climate change will vary from place to place, the combination of institutions and legal and political tools available to public decision-makers are unique from region to region. Preparedness actions will need to be tailored to the circumstances of different communities.

Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments is designed to help local, regional, and state governments prepare for climate change by recommending a detailed, easy-to-understand process for climate change preparedness based on familiar resources and tools. Questions addressed in the guidebook include the following:

Preparing for Climate Change was co-authored by the Climate Impacts Group, King County (Washington) Executive Ron Sims, and King County 's climate team. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is a contributing partner and is distributing the guidebook nationally to its more than 250 U.S. member cities, towns, and counties as part of its Climate Resilient Communities Program, a Five Milestone process for adapting to climate change.

Obtaining Copies of the Guidebook

A full copy of Preparing for Climate Change is available for download as a PDF below. Individual sections of the guidebook are also available for download. For questions or problems downloading the PDF, please contact Lara Whitely Binder.

A limited number of hard copies are also available. To request a hard copy of the guidebook or a CD, please contact the CIG.

Your feedback on the guidebook is important. When downloading the full copy of the guidebook, you will be prompted to provide your contact information for future assessment of the guidebook's effectiveness in helping local, regional, and state governments prepare for climate change. Involvement in this follow-up survey work is voluntary and is not required for downloading the PDF. We hope you will be willing to share your thoughts on the guidebook's strengths and weaknesses, as well as your experience in preparing for climate change, for future editions of the guidebook.

Individual Sections
Front Matter (425 kb)
Table of Contents (103 kb)
Executive Summary (123 kb)
Key Terms (99 kb)
Suggested Checklist (85 kb)

Chapter 1 - Take Action, Take Advantage: An Introduction by King County Executive Ron Sims (210 kb)

Chapter 2 - A Scientific Overview of Climate Change and Its Impacts (1.7 MB)
Chapter 3 - The Case for Governments to Prepare for Climate Change (207 kb)
Chapter 4 - Scope Climate Change Impacts to Your Major Sectors (341 kb)
Chapter 5 - Build and Maintain Support to Prepare for Climate Change (254 kb)
Chapter 6 - Build Your Climate Change Preparedness Team (302 kb)
Chapter 7 - Identify Your Planning Areas Relevant to Climate Change (137 kb)

Chapter 8 - Conduct a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (3.2 MB)

Word versions of chapter tables and boxes for use in planning efforts:

Chapter 9 - Conduct a Climate Change Risk Assessment (310 kb)

Word version of chapter table for use in planning efforts:

Chapter 10 - Set Preparedness Goals and Develop Your Preparedness Plan (677 kb) | Chapter 10.1 only (239 kb)
Chapter 11 - Implement Your Preparedness Plan (204 kb)
Chapter 12 - Measure Your Progress and Update Your Plan (397 kb)
Chapter 13 - Taking the Long VIew: Final Thoughts on Preparing for Climate Change (153 kb)
Chapter 14 - Sources (338 kb)
Appendices (2.6 MB)
Back Cover (70 kb)

Adobe Acrobat Reader or a compatible PDF viewer is necessary to read the guidebook file. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.


For More Information

For additional information on, or assistance with, planning for climate variability and climate change, please contact CIG Outreach.