Choosing to Adapt: King County Tackles Climate Change (Video)

This video, a companion to “The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat,” Kennedy School case number C16-09-1906.0, consists of thirteen 2 to 4 minute modules that focus on the role of local government in addressing climate change by looking at the innovative approach developed by King County, Washington, Executive Ron Sims and his team.

The segments can be played chronologically or in other combinations. Through interviews with the key players, the video explores Sims’ early determination to make climate change central to his agenda and to embrace “adaptation”—the need to plan for the effects of climate change now deemed inevitable, from river flooding to water shortage; the County’s collaboration with scientists at the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group; the political and budgetary challenges Sims and his staff faced, and the strategies they developed to promote and bring to fruition some of their more ambitious initiatives, including a radical expansion of their flood prevention system financed through a new property tax. Engaging insights from the key players are interwoven with visuals illustrating various facets of King County’s Climate Plan. The video also takes a closer look at three of the plan’s most significant projects: reclaimed water, floodplain restoration and a guidebook for local, state and regional governments on how to prepare for climate change.

List of segments:

  1. King County Introduction
  2. An Idea Ahead of its Time
  3. The Climate Impacts Group
  4. Politics vs. Science
  5. Adaptation, an Unpopular Strategy
  6. The 2005 Climate Change Conference
  7. The Executive Orders on Climate Change
  8. Selling the Plan
  9. The Flood Control District
  10. King County's adaptation projects (slide show)
  11. Two Adaptation Initiatives: Reclaimed Water/Floodplain Restoration
  12. The Guidebook: Preparing for Climate Change
  13. Lessons