On February 1, 2023 we held a webinar on Creating a Climate Resilience District: A New Tool for Local Governments. We were joined by California State Senator and SB 852 author Bill Dodd, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, and Deputy Commissioner of the Climate and Sustainability Branch at the California Department of Insurance, Mike Peterson. We heard practical presentations on the financing opportunities under SB 852 from Senior Legislative Advocate at Nielsen Merksamer Geoff Neill and the process for setting up a CRD from Suzanne Smith, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority. The event was moderated by CivicWell Policy Director Roger Dickinson.
The effects of climate change are becoming more evident every day. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said we are in a “code red” condition to take action to reduce the rate and extent of global warming in order to avoid a catastrophe.
Existing law requires that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions be reduced by 40% by 2030 and new legislation approved in 2022 commits the state to achieve net zero GHG emissions no later than 2045. Local governments face steep challenges in playing their part in meeting these goals.
The recently-passed SB 852 fills a significant gap in the framework of addressing climate change by giving communities and regions the means of establishing local entities which span jurisdictional lines and focus resources on the most urgent aspects of climate change as determined locally.
The legislation permits cities, counties, and special districts to create climate resilience districts (CRDs) which can raise revenue, plan climate mitigation or adaptation projects, and implement those projects. CRDs can utilize a variety of local funding sources and accept funding from private, local, state, and federal sources to address local climate change priorities.