While the California Air Resources Board struggles with implementing greenhouse gas emission mitigation targets, \u201cadaptation\u201d is gaining traction on the policy front. Less snow and a corresponding decrease in water supplies and hydropower, an earlier and more intense fire season, and a rising sea level is shifting attention from lowering greenhouse gases from the electricity and other major sources of emissions to how the state should adapt to a warmer environment hit by more droughts and floods. \u201cIt is managing the unavoidable,\u201d said California Energy Commission member Jim Boyd at the Energy Commission\u2019s fifth annual climate change conference. California\u2019s response to global warming \u201cis not a simple choice between mitigation or adaptation,\u201d noted Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman. \u201cThey have got to complement each other as we implement AB 32,\u201d the state\u2019s climate change law, he said during the three-day meeting in Sacramento that ran from September 8-10. AB 32 requires the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2020, with the energy sector expected to significantly curb its gases to lessen expected climate change ramifications. At press time, the CEC and California Public Utilities Commission said they planned to release their draft final recommendations to the Air Board the afternoon of September 12 on how to cut carbon emissions from the state\u2019s power sector. Adaptation refers to responding to--or getting out of the way of--changes wrought by a heated earth. Legal and institutional changes are expected to be needed to adapt, speakers noted. That includes reworking the Warren-Alquist Act, under which power plants are sited. Experts also called for changing land use and water resources laws. Building energy infrastructure, especially along the coasts, for example, will need to be revaluated given rising sea levels, said Margaret Caldwell with Stanford University. Neither Chrisman nor Boyd could estimate how state resources--staff and money--are being divvied up between adaptation and mitigation research and development studies and strategies. Chrisman said that adaptation funding is one of the issues being studied by a coalition of state agencies, which include those responsible for energy, water, coastal and biodiversity resources, fire protection, and public health. They are developing a report expected to recommend climate change adaptation policies and identify vulnerable areas for the state next year. Currently, the vast majority of the Air Resources Board\u2019s climate change staff is working on rules to cut greenhouse gases under AB 32, said an official, who asked not to be named. Separate funds have not yet been allocated to strategies that respond to an altered environment. The California Energy Commission\u2019s $84 million annual Public Interest Research Program is divided equally between energy efficiency efforts that mitigate carbon emissions and measures aimed at controlling emissions from power plants and vehicles, said CEC member Art Rosenfeld. Adaptation measures can also curb carbon emissions. They include efficient building standards, water conservation, and getting rid of inefficient, polluting power plants in inner cities. The debate over whether to mitigate or adapt to climate change ebbs and flows with the political acceptability of adaptation. Some critics fear focusing on adaptation will divert funding and attention away from mitigation measures. \u201cAdaptation has pushed so many items off the agenda,\u201d noted Ian Noble, leader of the World Bank\u2019s climate change team. One of the proven mitigation strategies discussed this week was \u201ccool\u201d or white roofs. These roofs deflect heat, keeping the underlying building cooler and reducing the need for air conditioning, which drives up peak energy demand on hot days. According to Rosenfeld, every 1,000 square feet of white roofs saves 10 tons of carbon. Given today\u2019s $25\/ton carbon price tag, he valued the savings at $250. That amount could soar to \u201ca no regrets investment \u201cof $1 trillion in carbon savings if white roofs were spread around the world and accompanied by lighter colored pavement. One hoped-for greenhouse gas mitigation strategy in California is its planned low carbon fuel standard. Qualifying fuels must produce 10 percent less carbon emissions than traditional gasoline. However, release of the draft rules has been delayed until the first part of 2009 because of ongoing controversy over how to measure fuels\u2019 overall emissions--from cradle to grave. Editor\u2019s Note: For an earlier and more detailed report, please see our sister publication, Energy Meets Climate Challenge, E=MC2 www.energymeetsclimate.com.