California Charts Course for Whole-of-Government Action on Extreme Heat At First-Ever Symposium

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Following the West Coast’s record-setting heat wave last month, California hosted the first-ever Extreme Heat Symposium in Sacramento. The symposium, put on by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Natural Resources Agency, harnessed the collective power of community leaders, state policymakers, scientists, and members of the public, and set the stage for extreme heat action in California in the coming years.

The whole-of-government event comes after Governor Gavin Newsom signed additional extreme heat funding into law last month totaling $365 million, bringing total state investment in heat resilience to $865 million.

“The extreme heat we’re facing is extraordinary and puts our communities at risk,” said Governor Newsom. “Just last month, the West Coast broke nearly 1,000 temperature records in a 10-day heat wave – and experts tell us to expect more heat waves like this one in the coming years and decades. With our Extreme Heat Action Plan, California is taking ambition and turning it into action so we can save lives and adapt to our hotter climate.”

September’s heat wave was the hottest ever recorded in California, with the state’s best climate science projecting higher average temperatures and more frequent and severe heat waves in the decades to come. Extreme heat is an immediate threat and ranks amongst the deadliest of all climate change hazards, with structural inequities playing a significant role in the capacity of individuals, workers, and communities to protect and adapt to its effect.

Last month, the Governor signed a suite of extreme heat legislation, including AB 2238 by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) to create the nation’s first extreme heat advance warning and ranking system to better prepare communities ahead of heat waves.

Heat funding included in Governor Newsom’s historic, multi-year $54 billion California Climate Commitment kickstarts the implementation of California’s Extreme Heat Action Plan launched in April. The Plan lays out the state’s broad heat resilience approach, encompassing both rapid response to extreme heat events as well as actions that build resilience in California’s communities, natural systems, and physical infrastructure.

With a forward-looking focus on extreme heat threats and opportunities, panels featured in the California Extreme Heat Symposium align with the Extreme Heat Action Plan ‘Tracks’ and covered topics including climate science, grid reliability, public education campaigns and tracking systems, nature-based solutions, public health, and industry technology and innovation.

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