2019 made climate impacts visible. Here are 4 stories of resilience that give me hope for 2020.

This year has been one of the toughest yet for communities across the country feeling the impacts of climate change.

Farmers took big hits from unprecedented flooding in the Midwest, coastal communities were pummeled with record-breaking rainfall and storms, and more than 250,000 acres in my home state of California burned from wildfires that took precious lives and left millions of people without power for days on end. As we enter a new decade, these four stories of resilience provide hope that we will take bold climate action in 2020. Click To Tweet

It’s easy to feel hopeless hearing one climate disaster story after another. But if you look around, there are also stories of resilience that can provide hope for the future. Here are four that inspire me.

1. Farmers are adopting practices that boost yield and resilience.

On the farm, momentum continues to build for conservation practices that help farmers boost yield while also delivering water quality improvements, emissions reductions and a variety of other co-benefits.

The number of acres enrolled in cover crops and conservation tillage nationwide has steadily increased over the past decade as more farmers realize that these practices aren’t just good for the environment — they’re good for their bottom line.

One analysis found that transitioning half of Iowa’s conventionally tilled acres to no-till and strip-tillage could save Iowa farmers up to $265 million annually in fuel and equipment costs. This builds to a growing body of financial analysis showing that conservation practices pay for grain and dairy farms.

Many of these cost-saving conservation practices also help reduce flood risk – a huge concern after historic flooding across the Great Plains and Midwest devastated farmers this year.

2. States are stepping up to fill the domestic climate leadership void.

In addition to flooding, hurricanes and other extreme weather events have increased in severity and frequency in recent years. As federal funding and aid for recovery falls short, coastal states are rising to the challenge to build resilience before the next storm hits.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a proclamation recognizing the imperative to think anew about how the state lives with climate change. Additionally, New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida have all recently hired chief resilience officers to oversee their states’ resilience strategies.

In Louisiana, where the state is aggressively working to advance resilience through its Coastal Master Plan, voters expressed near unanimous support for coastal restoration in a poll commissioned by EDF. Youth coastal advocates even participated in their own campaign, “Restore the Coast. Protect their Future,” to remind leaders what’s at stake.

6 essential elements of coastal resilience

3. Passage of bipartisan policies prove that collaboration on climate issues is possible.

Federal action on climate issues may be at a standstill, but there is at least one example of bipartisan success from the Southwest, where record-setting drought has led the Colorado River Basin states to recognize the urgent need to more carefully manage their finite water supplies.

After several years of negotiations among the seven basin states and countless other stakeholders, federal legislation to implement the Drought Contingency Plan was signed into law this year in a major bipartisan victory. Specifically, the plan requires proactive measures to conserve Colorado River water in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, ensuring a more secure water future for the American Southwest.

The collaborative, bipartisan spirit of the Drought Contingency Plan marks a new beginning: the start of a highly productive period for water policy to build greater resilience to climate change across the country.

3 building blocks to water resilience

4. Extreme weather is accelerating adoption of cleaner energy storage.

Although highly disruptive, the electricity shutdowns in California this fall did have one other benefit beyond potentially reducing fire risk: A growing number of Californians are investing in solar-plus storage.

When properly designed, this combination of solar power and battery storage can provide additional grid resilience and further minimize greenhouse gas and local air emissions compared with the conventional gas generators.

Californians are not alone in recognizing the benefits of this cleaner solution. In Puerto Rico, solar-plus-storage installations doubled after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Nationwide, deployments of small-scale, so-called behind-the-meter energy storage climbed 138% in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier. Fueling this trend, 15 states have adopted policies that make it easier and more affordable to invest in energy storage. As more states help expand the market, it is important to start thinking of energy storage as a key strategy to make buildings cleaner and more grid resilient.

How extreme weather is driving the energy storage boom

And as we enter a new decade, it’s my hope that sharing these stories of resilience will help inspire others – farmers, policymakers and voters – to take bold action in 2020.

This entry was posted in Climate Resilience and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.