Expert Panel Urges Confronting Climate Change in the Commonwealth

Sep 1, 2015

Virginia needs to take stronger, proactive steps to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, bolster the Commonwealth’s resilience, and reduce the state’s carbon footprint. That’s the conclusion of an expert panel established by Governor McAuliffe to formulate recommendations that could be quickly enacted. The strategies begin with concerted efforts to educate both citizens and public officials -- and raise the capital that’s needed to fund improvements.

The governor stressed the urgency of the related problems.

“Climate change is happening. It’s going to have a dramatic impact on the Virginia economy. You look at Hampton Roads.  I don’t have to tell any of you who live in the Hampton Roads region or travel there on a rainy day that half the roads are closed. If you go back and look at the Hague back in 1920, it used to flood maybe two or three hours a year. Today it floods hundreds of hours a year.  It is a serious issue.”

The panel discussed developing a strategy to enhance environmental literacy and creating a trusted, on-line clearinghouse for the public. Senator Barbara Favola said many information sources exist, but decision-makers need a reliable central resource center.

“There are land-use questions integral to this. There are transportation questions integral to this. There’s a lot of economic development questions because homes can be affected by flooding and changes in flood plains.”

The many proposals considered include adjusting existing state funding streams, establishing renewable energy procurement targets for agencies, and creating a public-private New Virginia Bank to fund adapting buildings, energy efficiency, and renewable resource technologies.