Cap-and-Trade Success Stories: Investing in Stronger Communities - CivicWell

Cap-and-Trade Success Stories: Investing in Stronger Communities

Climate Change & Energy

Livable Places Update


August 23, 2016


As California legislators approve Senate Bill 32, which would extend the emissions-reductions targets under the state’s existing Global Warming Solutions Act, it’s worth considering the benefits that have been realized by the landmark legislation and its revenue-generating companion program – cap-and-trade.

Over the past decade, nearly $48 billion has been invested in renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation and other climate projects through California climate policies, programs and actions.

From the Cap and Trade Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund alone, more than $1.6 billion has been invested in 429 projects, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 4.475 million metric tons – the equivalent of removing more than 945,000 cars off the road each year.

The statewide benefits of cap-and-trade are undeniable, but it’s at the community level where the greatest range of benefits will be experienced for decades to come.

Upgrading to cleaner cars, cleaner air

In the Central Valley, one of the nation’s most polluted air basins, the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program and Plus-up is giving low-income families a way to upgrade to cleaner cars. They can get a free smog test and may qualify for smog repairs or a variety of major incentives to replace old vehicles with cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars, including plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

“Tune In & Tune Up” events offer free emissions tests to determine whether their car qualifies for free repairs. Eligible households can receive $9,500 toward the purchase of a used plug-in hybrid. Low- and moderate-income residents will also be eligible for an additional $3,000 toward a brand new plug-in hybrid or $4,000 for a new electric car through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Drivers who scrap their old, dirty car but choose not to replace it can get vouchers for transit passes or car-sharing services – worth $2,500 to $4,500, depending on their income level. The program expected to repair 13,000 vehicles and replace 600 “clunkers” with clean cars during FY 2015-16.

Providing agricultural workers with safe and affordable transit options

In the Salinas Valley, Central Valley and Imperial County, 15-passenger vanpools are helping farmworkers get to work safely and reliably, eliminating millions of vehicle miles and increasing worker mobility.

The California Vanpool Authority will buy 15 additional new vans that will provide transportation to 225 farmworkers, using Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds from the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.

In a span of three years, CalVans vanpools reduced vehicle miles traveled by 81 million miles and reduced GHG emissions by more than 28,000 tons annually.

On average, agricultural workers save $8.33 a week on transportation costs. By sharing transportation costs among 15 passengers, CalVans also enables some workers to make more money by helping them travel longer distances to work on higher-paying crops further away. (source: Alvaro S. Sanchez, The Greenlining Institute October 2015)

Fresno eliminates food waste

Many Fresno residents face an unhealthy combination of high levels of food insecurity, food waste and poor air quality. Metro Fresno is the fifth-most food insecure city in the nation.

Through funding from CalRecycle Fresno Metro Ministry will expand the existing Fresno State Food Recovery Network model through the creation of the Food to Share project, which will provide food to those in need and divert wasted food from landfills.

The inedible food and agricultural waste will be diverted to Colony Energy Partners, LLC anaerobic digester in Tulare to produce renewable biomethane that will be fed directly into the natural-gas grid and will also be supplied as a diesel alternative to San Joaquin Valley’s on-road truck market. The project will reduce an estimated 651,500 tons of GHG emissions and recover 65 tons of food annually. (source: Alvaro S. Sanchez, The Greenlining Institute, October 2015)

Greening low-income neighborhoods

In Los Angeles, the Koreatown Youth and Community Center is engaging residents in the Pico-Union and South LA neighborhoods to increase the tree canopy in disadvantaged communities. Over the next few years, the center and its community allies will plant 1,120 trees and reduce GHG emissions by nearly 2,000 tons.

In Oakland, Urban Releaf will plant 1,100 trees along the International Boulevard corridor that transects vulnerable neighborhoods in severe need of investment to combat unemployment, poverty and the health impacts of pollution. Oakland flatlands residents are “disproportionately burdened by diesel pollution and have some of the highest cancer risks in the Bay Area,” according to a 2010 study by Communities for a Better Environment.

The Oakland tree-planting project, funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, will improve air quality, reduce GHG emissions by 31.36 million metric tons, and enhance the quality of life in some of the city’s most underserved communities.

Cap-and-trade funds housing for at-risk residents

Stockton’s Anchor Village, the first transit-oriented development in the Central Valley to be funded through cap-and-trade, will provide 51 much-needed affordable apartments to low-income individuals along with permanent supportive housing and social services to support veterans at risk of homelessness and people living with mental illness.

Anchor Village residents will be able to easily walk to the grocery store and take the bus to work or school. Secure indoor bike storage lets people easily store their bicycles without worrying about theft. The building will also be designed to LEED Silver standards, using sustainable and green materials that limit environmental impacts. (source: TransForm)

The Anchor Place transit-oriented housing development in Long Beach – partially funded by a $2 million cap-and-trade award – will provide affordable homes and comprehensive supportive services for veterans and, because of its proximity to improved transit service, will also increase access to jobs, education and key facilities such as the VA hospital. It will also reduce GHG emissions by more than 28,000 metric tons and reduce gasoline use by 3.2 million gallons. (source: TransForm)

In West Sacramento, West Gateway Place – which received $2.6 million in cap-and-trade funds – is a new transit-friendly, mixed-use development with affordable housing that will reduce GHG emissions while giving more working families a good place to live. By linking residents to public transit, biking and walking, the project will cut GHG emissions by an estimated 723,286 metric tons, equal to taking 140,483 cars off the road for a year.

“Cap-and-trade is helping make affordability a part of a sustainable community rather than something that gets added into development, almost as an afterthought, to meet a mandate,” said Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. (source: Up Lift CA)

A better, safer ride is on its way in South Central LA

A $39 million grant from California’s Climate Investments Program will help South Central Los Angeles establish safer mobility options. The fourth-busiest station in the Metro system, the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station also has one of the highest crime rates in the entire system.

Thanks to the award through the state’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), the station will be upgraded to make it a clean, safe, and attractive place for everyone. New sheltered canopies will provide a more comfortable space for people to wait for trains. The station’s signage, landscaping, stairs, elevators and escalators will all be upgraded to make transferring between Metro lines and buses easier. Better lighting and increased efforts by community law enforcement will help reduce crime and heighten security. A Mobility and Bike Hub inside the station will help connect people with resources on how to get to and from the station without a car.

The improvements to train operations will help reduce GHG emissions by 86,207 metric tons over the project’s life. (source: TransForm)

Restoring wetlands and capturing carbon

In Mariposa County, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy and its partners will restore Bean Meadow – currently a preserve and working cattle ranch – to improve water quality, increase water supply, and capture greenhouse gases. The Bean Meadow project was one of 12 wetland restoration projects to receive money from the state’s cap-and-trade program.

The project will return 39 acres back to what it once was, before people built roads and ditches and turned it into ranchland in the 19th century. The restored meadow will capture CO2, store and clean water, and provide for native habitat. Reconstruction of the meadow will begin next fall. (source: Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio)

Conserving land in Bridgeport

The Eastern Sierra Land Trust received a grant for $917,500 that will go toward permanently protecting Bridgeport Valley’s historic Sceirine Point Ranch.

The 2,400-plus acre ranch has been run by the same ranching family for over 130 years. It has productive irrigated meadows that provide vital summer range for cattle as well as key habitat for wildlife – including the greater sage-grouse, which uses the property year-round.

Land-conservation projects such as the Sceirine Point Ranch can limit poorly planned development and harmful emissions increases. (source: Eastern Sierra Land Trust)

Solar energy and job training for low-income communities

Using proceeds from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund under the California Department of Community Services and Development, GRID Alternatives will provide 1,600 low-income households with solar systems and assistance with energy savings, saving $45.7 million on energy and generating 400 jobs in 2016.

Climate investments and benefits in your region

A new, nonpartisan analysis by E2 details the economic benefits and jobs created by California’s climate policies that have flowed to California communities by Assembly district to show lawmakers exactly how their communities are benefitting.

For example, Assembly District 32, which includes Bakersfield, has received nearly $1.5 billion in investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation and other climate projects. This investment represents public and private funding sources (many public programs require a private-sector cost-share). These investments have helped create more than 3,800 local jobs and reduced annual emissions by the equivalent of nearly 150,000 cars.


Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of this generation. Without decisive action, the consequences on our health, environment and economy will be increasingly severe. The investments we make now will not only safeguard our communities but also catalyze private investment, create new jobs and improve the quality of life for people across California. As local leaders, we must do a better job of informing both community members and legislative leaders of the benefits of climate policies and the return on climate-smart investments.


For more information about the benefits and distribution of cap-and-trade investments: