Executive Summary

This report was developed by the North Carolina Interagency Leadership Team (ILT), a group of eleven state and federal agencies, to communicate to planners and engineers, working for the public and private sectors, about the potential effects and risks due to changes in climate and extreme weather events, as well as strategies for considering those effects and risks in planning, design and implementation of projects.

As Ryan Boyles, North Carolina’s state climatologist with the State Climate Office of North Carolina, explains, “Since North Carolina already experiences almost every kind of severe weather and climate, and that our best science suggests these events will not become less severe (and may become worse), our State can do a lot to manage future risk by taking steps to reduce our vulnerability to current hazards.” Obviously, we cannot predict the future with 100% certainty in any area of human concern, but we can plan so we can avoid unpleasant outcomes whenever possible. If the weather forecaster says it may rain, we grab our umbrella. If we live in a floodplain, we take out a flood insurance policy on our home. It is simply prudent to evaluate our risk and plan accordingly.

Each of the most likely climate impacts—increased drought, increased and more intense precipitation, heat waves, hurricanes, and rising sea level—are expected to have substantial consequences for our state’s coastal and cultural resources,transportation and other infrastructure, water supplies, agriculture, natural systems, public health, and our citizens’ homes and livelihoods. (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2009)

The ILT agencies and their partners examined how multiple government agencies could consider potential climate- and weather-related impacts to their areas of responsibility, and developed a coordinated climate adaptation framework. The emphasis is on practical, economically feasible options that can be undertaken by state agencies, working with willing partners at local, regional and federal levels. These possible actions could be integrated into existing planning processes, priorities and standard operating procedures.

The strategies are intended to address common concerns across sectors and regions, and to serve as a resource to support decisions. Early efforts concentrate on adaptive responses that build on existing momentum using current resources, focus on “no- regrets” actions that are good to do for other reasons beyond climate adaptation, and show tangible results and responsible use of tax dollars.

Overarching cross-sector strategies were recommended by the ILT for implementation. These are:

1. Promote comprehensive adaptation planning among state agencies.

2. Facilitate communication and education to support local, regional and state planning efforts.
3. Collaborate with partners to provide relevant information for decision making.

4. Encourage broad collaboration and partnerships to leverage resources.

5. Partner with communities to facilitate local climate adaptation efforts.

6. Refine adaptation strategies as information becomes available and tools improve.

These broad strategies will enable our state to be better prepared as we build North Carolina’s resilience to potential threats. By implementing a strategic and well- considered approach to prepare and plan for adverse weather events, we can help safeguard both human systems and natural resources to support the citizens and communities across our state. Proactively addressing these vulnerabilities could substantially reduce the financial costs of responding to climate-related natural disasters.