The White House on Wednesday hosted the fourth and final face-to-face meeting of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

President Barack Obama established this task force, made up of 26 officials from across the country, including Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, last November to advise him on how the federal government can best respond to the needs of communities nationwide already dealing with the impacts of climate change.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time,” Carbajal said. “It will affect all aspects of our lives. From infrastructure and natural disasters to public health and agriculture, no individual or business will be immune to its impacts.”

The task force final recommendations, which will be presented to the president this fall, will focus on five critical areas: Disaster Recovery and Resiliency; Built Systems and Infrastructure; Natural Resources and Agriculture; Public Health and Community Development; and Tribal recommendations. Each of these topic areas was assigned a subgroup of task force members to analyze and identify potential recommendations. Supervisor Carbajal contributed to the Built Systems sub-group, where he was co-lead of the Coastal sector, and the Public Health subgroup.

The information gathering process included extensive outreach that was performed with hundreds of stakeholders from throughout the country. As part of these efforts, Carbajal received feedback from state and local government agencies with a specific emphasis on the unique perspective of the tri-counties region and coastal communities such as ours. He also received input from academic institutions, including UCSB and Cal Poly SLO, and organizations including the California State Association of Counties and National Association of Counties.

“The process to develop recommendations relied on detailed scientific analysis and the real world experience from experts in their respective fields,” Carbajal said. “This was a very thorough and rigorous evaluation which yielded over 500 separate recommendations designed to address the expected impacts from climate change.”

To refine their proposals, the task force met on three prior occasions with a different subgroup the focus of each meeting. It also strongly incorporated data from the 3rd National Climate Assessment, which was released in April of this year and can be found online by clicking here.

At Wednesday’s meeting, President Obama and members of his Cabinet interfaced with task force members and discussed the task force’s initial recommendations. The president also announced a series of actions in response to the task force’s early feedback that are targeted to help state, local and tribal leaders prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change by developing more resilient infrastructure and rebuilding existing infrastructure stronger and smarter. A more detailed description of the president’s proposals can be found by clicking here.

“It was an honor to meet with the president today,” Carbajal said. “I am glad that he has begun the implementation of our task force recommendations as soon as possible through the series of actions that he announced today. These steps taken by the federal government will greatly assist states and local communities dealing with the challenges of climate change.”

— Jeremy Tittle is the chief of staff for Supervisor Salud Carbajal.