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California Climate Investments Programs Respond to Ongoing Climate Crisis

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As outlined in the 2022 California Climate Investments report, the continued efforts of statewide greenhouse gas-reducing (GHG) projects to date are anticipated to reduce emissions by over 76 million metric tons. 

The California Climate Investments program has established upwards of 550,000 projects addressing areas such as energy efficiency, clean transportation and fire prevention. Since the program’s founding in 2014, over 700,000 acres of land have been restored, 170,000 urban trees have been planted and affordable housing projects have received funding. 

“California continues to lead the way in confronting the sources of emissions that are driving the climate crisis, while bolstering resilience in our most vulnerable communities,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press release about the program.

Backed by the funding of California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, the initiative establishes regulations applied to major fuel distributors as well as industrial and electric power plants to limit over 80% of GHG emissions throughout the state. Through the program’s auctioning of allowances, entities are permitted to emit one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent to GHG emission for each allowance. These allowances apply to sources that are deemed by the state as emitting the greatest level of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

In addition to allowances, entities may also utilize offset credits as additional permits. By increasing the price of allowances and decreasing the number of them available each year, the program hopes to significantly decrease GHG emissions with its near-perfect compliance rate.

The Cap-and-Trade Program has undergone several revisions in order to adjust regulations and observe the progress made since its establishment. 

“With more than $2.1 billion in new projects implemented across California in 2021 alone, California Climate Investments is putting Cap-and-Trade dollars to work across nearly every sector of the economy with an emphasis on benefiting disadvantaged communities and low-income communities and households,” a California Climate Investments report states.

Within the California Climate Investments program, projects funded by Cap-and-Trade address sectors of the environment and economy in addition to overall public health. Over 20 programs undertaken by agencies such as the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) implement various climate projects. 

A recent project by the CDFA supplied funding for farmer and rancher communities while increasing sustainability. The Climate Smart Agricultural Initiative program provides opportunities for technical assistance in multiple languages and the expansion of climate-conscious practices. The program has assisted 850 farmers and ranchers in California and received increased participation in grant applications. 

In addition, the Community Air Grants Program, a sector under the California Air Resources Board, involved the community’s youth population in an effort to improve air quality in the eastern San Francisco area. 

Funding put forth by the Community Air Grants Program increases community health education and engagement throughout low-income communities in eastern San Francisco. Using air quality sensors, this program organized by Brightline Defense gathers data surrounding air quality levels within the region and informs residents of the study’s results. 

Through the efforts of youth in this community, educational programs, books and videos serve to increase awareness surrounding air quality. 

“Because of the orange sky, I really feel that the knowledge of air quality is really important,” high school student and program youth leader Qiu Mei Fan said. 


Mariam Hasan is a City News Intern for the spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at mariamah@uci.edu.