Beginning with AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 1996, California committed to cutting greenhouse gas to fight climate change. As part of that effort, the state launched a cap-and-trade program that makes polluters pay for the right to put carbon into our air. The money goes into a fund that’s used to further cut pollution and greenhouse gases – known as California Climate Investments. Since before this program officially launched, Greenlining has worked to ensure that these climate investments reach priority populations – cleaning the air and creating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. We work to make sure that every aspect of California’s climate effort brings real benefits to our communities. This work has already brought well over $1.5 billion into low-income communities of color, with more coming every day.
LEGISLATION: TURNING CLIMATE INVESTMENTS INTO RESULTS
Working with allies, we spearheaded drafting and passage of SB 535, authored by Sen. Kevin de León of Los Angeles and signed into law in September 2012. It guaranteed that 25 percent of our climate investments would go to projects benefitting disadvantaged areas. Four years later we succeeded in boosting the percentage of climate investments directed towards disadvantaged communities and low-income Californians to 35 percent via another bill, AB 1550, authored by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles.
This money has turned into real benefits in real neighborhoods. California’s climate investments have already made 110,000 homes more energy efficient, planted 50,000 trees in urban areas, financed 462 separate transit improvement projects, helped Californians purchase over 207,000 low- or zero-emissions vehicles and helped low-income Californians who don’t own a car access clean vehicle carsharing.
To help families, community groups and local governments access these benefits, we created the Resource Finder, an easy tool that connects Californians to the climate investments that meet their needs.
HELPING COMMUNITIES GET THEIR FAIR SHARE
Climate investments are making a huge difference, but the process of applying for funds can be complex and technical, and some disadvantaged communities just don’t have the resources to effectively compete for grants. That’s why in 2018 we worked to pass SB 1072, authored by Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino. This important measure will help close the gap and ensure that all communities can have a fair shot at the climate funds they need.
Our staff has also provided hands-on support for communities seeking to use these state programs to get cleaner and greener. For example, we worked with residents and community leaders in Stockton to help them access critical funding from the Transformative Climate Communities program. We are also working with stakeholders in San Diego and East Palo Alto to identify and pursue climate investment opportunities that will help reduce poverty and pollution in their communities.
We work to make sure that polluters, not California families, pay for these climate investments. At the California Public Utilities Commission, we pushed hard for the Climate Credit, which protects families from having to foot the bill even as we make sure electricity rates reflect the cost of pollution. The California Climate Credit is issued every April and October to Californians who get their electricity from one of the state’s three investor-owned utilities, and ranges from approximately $30 to $40 each time.