Close to Home: Cap-and-trade funds need to support creative rural solutions, like those on the North Coast

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 398, which extends cap-and-trade, California’s cornerstone climate change program, through 2030. The program requires the largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., the oil and gas industry, cement plants, large food processors) to cut their emissions. Without putting a price on carbon, we are unlikely to meet our climate change goals, the most ambitious in the country.

The state Legislature and governor will now debate how to budget billions of dollars in cap-and-trade revenue. In the past three years, California has invested more than $3 billion of cap-and-trade funds in our communities to accelerate the transition toward a clean energy economy. In January, Governor Brown proposed an additional $2.2 billion for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

To date, the money has been invested across California on projects that reduce emissions by weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, improving public transportation, building transit-oriented housing and more. In addition to these urban strategies, the state has also embraced sustainable agricultural solutions to climate change.

Since 2014, nearly $200 million has been granted to farmers and ranchers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to store carbon on their land. The country’s first Climate Smart Agriculture programs are demonstrating to the world that farmers and ranchers can be leaders in climate innovation.

Among these is the country’s first farmland conservation program aimed at combating climate change by permanently protecting our finite agricultural lands from urban sprawl development. So far, 33,000 acres have been protected. Another program rewards farmers and ranchers for management practices that conserve water, save energy and reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions. Almost 600 projects have been implemented, and this year farmer demand exceeded available funds by more than 400 percent.

Two new climate smart agriculture programs are launching this…

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