Saturday, September 17, 2016

California Adaptation Forum 2016 Report-Back

Last Wednesday and Thursday, September 7-8, the 2nd California Adaptation Forum (CAF16) was held in Long Beach, California. Attendance totaled just over 500, according to the Local Government Commission (LGC), the main organizer of the CAF. It was smaller than the first CAF held two years ago in Sacramento. But, being more intimate, it was a great networking event. Also in contrast to the first CAF it focused on one through-running theme: equity in climate change planning. Presentation proposals were required to explain how they addressed the issue of equity, and preference was given to sessions that included representatives of vulnerable populations among the speakers. This gave the gathering a distinctly different vibe from more academic and scientific conferences on the topic of climate adaptation I've attended.

Content from CAF presentations can be found here.

The lively Twitter stream from the conference can be seen by searching #CAF16 or clicking here.

The conference's smaller attendance was partly due to the lack of state employees, prevented from coming as a result of a labor dispute at the host hotel.

Some saw the labor dispute as a teachable moment. I heard several panelists over the course of the two-day conference reference the dispute and cite the need for labor rights and fair treatment of workers as part of a vision for a sustainable world under climate change. That sentiment was expressed by speakers whose work involves supporting labor unions, immigrants, and outdoor laborers, and one voice from the business sector, President of the Sierra Business Council Steve Frisch.

More on the Labor Dispute

Earlier this year the CAF host hotel, the Renaissance Long Beach, was put on a boycott list by a local union, UNITE HERE Local 11. The organizers found out about it in June, too late to relocate the conference without incurring a steep financial penalty. As a result of the boycott, California State employees were told by their union that they couldn't attend the event. Presumably as a result of that, the pre-conference climate science symposium (which was targeted at state employees in its previous iteration) was canceled. This cancellation might have had some knock-on effects, causing people who were more interested in the science symposium to stay home.

State agency representatives comprised at least 1/3 of the attendees at the first CAF (my estimate based on a show of hands of attendees at one of the keynote addresses). This time, there was only one state employee, and he was attending (I was told by a mutual friend) "on the down-low." Most of the attendees were from local governments, federal agencies like NOAA and EPA, non-profits, and consulting firms.

Apparently the basis of the boycott is the hotel's resistance to maintaining neutrality while allowing union organizers to approach employees and ask them to sign a card authorizing the union to represent them, whereupon the hotel would have to agree to recognize the union if a majority signed the cards, also called "card check neutrality."

After the conference, Kif Scheuer, the LGC's Climate Change Program Director, told me that he and other LGC representatives met with the hotel management on the second day of the conference in the company of some allies from organizations attending the CAF. At that meeting they asked the hotel to notify people planning events at the hotel about the ongoing labor dispute, and also to consider agreeing to card check neutrality. The hotel was apparently noncommittal in its response.

It appears the hotel doesn't dispute the employees' right to organize, but it would prefer they organize by secret ballot, not by being approached one-on-one by union organizers and being asked to sign something publicly while the hotel is bound to not attempt to undermine the effort (e.g., not hold mandatory meetings denouncing the union).

Go here for the most recent information on the labor dispute at the host hotel, last updated on August 24th as of this writing.

A Vision for California in 2050

Just a guess, but I'm betting this call for comments on a state "vision" that I received in my inbox this past Wednesday Sept. 14th via the California Natural Resources Agency's "CNRA_CLIMATE" mailing list was supposed to be launched at the CAF:

"The California Natural Resources Agency, in partnership with the California Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California State Transportation Agency, California Health and Human Services Agency, California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, the Strategic Growth Council, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, is please to share the attached, 'Vibrant Communities and Landscapes: a Vision for California in 2050.' This draft vision for comment and discussion is intended to consider land use in the context of California’s climate change policy and begin to explore how the State can support actions, at all level of government, to facilitate development and conservation patterns that help to achieve the state’s climate goals, both greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the ability of communities and natural systems to adapt to the expected impacts of climate change. Please send comments to: ca.50m @"

(Hyperlink and spaces in the email address are my own.)

More on the 2014 CAF

My Sept. 2, 2014, article written for WWF about the first CAF

My Sept. 15, 2014, post about the first CAF with audio/video links, and the slides from the panel on fog that I moderated.

Presentations from the first CAF - held August 19-20, 2014, in Sacramento, CA.

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