Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Local Economies
The Intermountain West is in the bull’s eye of climate change impacts in the United States. Climate change impacts will range from increased risk of droughts, floods and wildfires, landscape level vegetation change, exacerbation of the heat island effect and ozone non-attainment, to changes in river flows and reservoir storage. These impacts will compel households, businesses, farmers, land managers, and local governments to adapt. The key question is whether adaptation will be ad hoc or guided. There are cost-efficient reasons to incorporate climate change impact planning into all local government decision-making from building codes to transportation planning. Many adaptation measures, such as energy efficiency, switching to diffuse renewable energy, smart urbanization, and water conservation, will not only allow households, businesses, and governments to save money, but also will produce co-benefits such as increased comfort, economic development, and greater resilience to climate variability and other natural hazards. Local governments can incentivize end users to invest in adaptation through regulation, partnerships with utilities, rebates, grants and bonding, leading-by-example, and education.
Prepared for the Joint Venture of the Sonoran Institute and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy as part of its land-use planning and growth management research and policy analysis agenda focused on land conservation and improved urban form in the West.