How California’s climate change programs are investing in communities
By Kristin Retter on Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
In 2006, California passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, a sweeping piece of legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change. But why stop at becoming a global leader in addressing climate change when you can also invest in and directly improve the lives of people in disadvantaged neighborhoods hard-hit by pollution? So that is exactly what California did, and positive results for residents of the state are already apparent. California is currently on track to meet its goal of reducing emission levels in 2020 to match those from 1990, a huge accomplishment.
California has identified communities who face the greatest environmental and energy issues, like disproportionately high energy costs or multiple pollutants, and is spending the money generated by AB 32 to help. These funds support a variety of programs and projects, from weatherization and solar installation grants in people’s homes to investments in low carbon transportation. These investments and benefits are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing public health benefits, and even fostering job creation, and the money available for these projects is already almost $270 million dollars. The funds for these projects come from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), which supports an even greater number of investments and improvements for the state, clean energy, and greenhouse gas reduction.
AB 32 addresses global warming by setting targets and implementing programs to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants that are created and released into the air. A system called cap-and-trade is one way emissions levels are being reduced and funds are being generated. The state set a limit on how much pollution can be created statewide each year; this is the “cap.” The state then sells at auction or issues pollution permits to companies. Auctioning is where the money comes from for programs like GGRF. Companies can buy a permit at auction, or can buy or trade with another company that won’t need their permit; this is the “trade” part.
As the initiatives from AB 32 roll out, the state continues to find more ways to expand the positive impacts it creates and with the early success of greenhouse gas reduction efforts, Governor Jerry Brown has already set a new 2050 emissions target at an aggressive 80% lower than 1990 levels. California continues to be an innovator as communities and residents will reap the benefits of greenhouse gas reduction through increased public health, alternative energy and transportation options, energy efficiency, and affordability.