Standing only a few feet above sea level on San Francisco Bay’s Treasure Island, Gov. Schwarzenegger released the California Climate Adaptation Strategy in early December. The final version of the 200-page strategy is not significantly different from the draft version that drew criticism from environmentalists for not going far enough, and from business and development interests for going way too far

“I think we have a responsibility to have a Plan B in case we can’t stop the global warming,” Schwarzenegger said.

The plan cites a 2008 University of California, Berkeley, report that found $2.5 trillion of the state’s $4 trillion in real estate assets “is at risk from extreme weather events, sea level rise and wildfires.” The strategy recommends avoiding significant new development in areas that “cannot be adequately protected from flooding, wildfire and erosion due to climate change.” The plan recommends the state consider hazards from climate change when locating infrastructure projects, and it notes that revisions to the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines could direct local governments “to evaluate the impacts of locating development in areas susceptible to hazardous conditions.” The plan further urges cities and counties to consider the impacts of climate change when preparing general plans and local coastal plans.

The governor also named a 23-member Climate Advisory Panel to make specific implementation recommendations based on the plan by July. Among those on the panel are former Gov. Pete Wilson, former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly, Ron Gastelum, former executive officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and Sunne Wright McPeak, a former Business, Transportation and Housing Agency secretary who headed the task force that prepared the adaptation strategy.