Energy Commission Weighs In At California Climate Change Symposium
The evolving discussion of climate change in California was at the core of the 2017 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.
The symposium drew more than 830 stakeholders from government agencies, private industry, science and nonprofit groups for a deep discussion on how climate change issues are affecting the state and what to do about it.
The California Energy Commission was well represented among panelists at the two-day symposium, which was held January 25 and 26. Chair Robert Weisenmiller was joined by fellow Commissioners Janea Scott and Karen Douglas and others from the Energy Commission who weighed in on varying topics related to climate change.
In one panel discussion - on collaborative research for climate change and environmental justice - Weisenmiller used California’s growing forest fires as a problem whose response will require collaborative effort.
Several studies have shown that wildfires have grown in size in the West since the 1980s. A recent University of California, Berkeley study found that forest areas burned in large fires between 2003 and 2012 were more than 1,200 percent greater than those that occurred between 1973 and 1982.
“I hope that, by working together, we can cushion some of these impacts by engaging local government and community leaders - so that they can increase the ability of neighborhoods to prepare for these events,” said Weisenmiller.
At the same panel, Scott weighed in on the Energy Commission’s Senate Bill 350 barrier study. That study is an outgrowth of the SB 350 legislation requiring the Energy Commission to complete and publish a study on the barriers faced by low-income communities in accessing energy efficiency and solar photovoltaic energy generation and other forms of renewable energy. The study also sought to identify barriers to contracting opportunities for local small businesses in disadvantaged communities.
As part of the study, the Energy Commission did robust outreach to communities in Los Angeles, Riverside Truckee, and Ukiah, Scott said.
At a panel on Southern California’s resiliency and response to climate change, Douglas spoke about approaches used by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Project (DRECP).
The two-phase DRECP is a multi-agency effort between the Bureau of Land Management, the Energy Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Douglas championed how the DRECP’s approach to research on landscapes and biodiversity can impact ecosystems by building resiliency – and how such resiliency allows threatened and other species to survive and thrive.