Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
September 22, 2020
A biweekly newsletter of the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative
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Ginsburg left a long environmental legacy
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday at age 87, helped establish critical Supreme Court precedent that empowered EPA to address the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. The landmark ruling she joined in 2007 that affirmed EPA’s power set up the Obama administration to issue rules limiting carbon pollution from cars, power plants and other sources — and set up a contentious legal battle over the extent of federal authority still being waged today. Though the core of her legacy centered on women’s rights and gender equality, Ginsburg was also a reliable vote over the decades in favor of environmental protections, and activists mourned her loss late Friday. “Through her expansive mind, sound temperament and unwavering judicial integrity, she plied the Constitution as a living instrument of American life, lending it meaning in the life of us all,” said Gina McCarthy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council and former EPA administrator. (Politico) Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
The wildfires show that stopping climate change is no longer enough
“If the fires of 2020 horrify you, as they should,” David Wallace-Wells writes for New York magazine, “consider that by 2050, when the benefits of fast climate action will only begin to arrive, the area burned annually in the West is expected to have at least doubled, and perhaps quadrupled.” Given this grim prognosis, how can the West minimize the loss of life and destruction that global warming is already causing, and what do other U.S. regions need to do to adapt? Here’s what people are saying. (NYT) Illustration: The New York Times; Photos: Anna Moneymaker, Eric Thayer, and Max Whittaker for The New York Times, Carin Dorghalli/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press.
What is California's wildfire smoke doing to our health? Scientists paint a bleak picture
In the days after lightning sparked hundreds of fires across the north of the state, hospital admissions for asthma to Stanford University’s healthcare system rose by 10% and cerebrovascular incidents such as strokes jumped by 23%. Based on studies of recent fires, the number of heart attacks, kidney problems and even mental health issues will likely also climb. The research is part of a growing body of scientific evidence painting a dire picture of the effects of wildfire smoke on people, even those living hundreds of miles away. (Guardian) Photo: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
The future has arrived. These explosive fires are our climate change wakeup call
Projections have turned to reality. The future has arrived. What we’re seeing now, with massive wildfires, worsening storms, unprecedented heat, and record droughts and floods is just the beginning of the climate changes to come. On top of rising oceans, the accelerating destruction of the Arctic ice cap, expanding water crises, and new health disasters, these climate impacts are something no human society has ever experienced and for which we remain woefully unprepared. (Guardian) Photo: Frederic Larson/AP
From activism to action: What's next for climate and racial justice? Four experts weigh in.
Months after George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murders sparked a wave of national protests against white supremacy, people and organizations across the country are still grappling with what it means to be “antiracist.” Many individuals and organizations have done some hasty messaging to acknowledge the ways in which inequality touches every aspect of society — from public health to policing to climate catastrophes. Now, bolstered by outrage over ongoing police brutality in places like Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Rochester, New York, protesters are more adamant than ever that the time is ripe for change. But, so far, what progress (if any) have we seen? Have the corporations and big green groups that put out Black Lives Matter statements followed through on their messaging? (Grist) Photo: Grist / Getty Images
How California can recover from wildfires without leaving its most vulnerable behind
Researchers studying the emergency response and recovery efforts during the Thomas Fire found that a failure to direct resources to vulnerable communities, such as undocumented Latino and Indigenous immigrants, and farmworkers in particular, exacerbated existing inequalities. A forthcoming article for the academic journal Geoforum concluded that emergency response and recovery efforts ignored the needs of residents already facing racial discrimination, exploitation, economic hardship, language barriers, and a fear of deportation. A 2019 California state audit of Ventura, Butte, and Sonoma counties reached a similar conclusion that emergency officials overlook vulnerable populations by failing to adequately implement best practices, which in turn places residents “at greater risk of harm during future natural disasters.” (Grist) Photo: Courtesy of CAUSE
Heat, smoke, and Covid are battering the workers who feed America
I drove through the valley last week, from Lodi, just below Sacramento, to Arvin, nearly 300 miles to the south, during a calamitous wave of heat, fire and surging coronavirus infections. I wanted to see it through the eyes of those worst affected: agricultural workers. Most of them are immigrants from Mexico. Mostly, they earn minimum wage ($13 an hour in California). Mostly, they lack health insurance and they live amid chronic pollution, making them susceptible to a host of respiratory ailments. Climate change exacerbates these horrors. (NYT) Photo: Brian L. Frank
Wildfires in California will 'continue to get worse,' climate change experts explore why
California experienced a spree of fires caused by more than 12,000 lightning strikes in August. In many ways, the blazes were unprecedented. But experts say these kinds of wildfires will also become very normal and routine if we do not take significant action to adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. There are solutions — more of these prescriptive burns, removing trees killed by bark beetles, cleaning-up the area around homes — but experts say any immediate answer will be futile unless California, and the world, dramatically rethinks its approach to the climate crisis. (Capital Public Radio) Photo: AP Photo/Noah Berger
Wildfires rage, Covid spreads: in California, life as we knew it has disappeared
Most powerfully, the sheer scale of fires has overwhelmed the system. In the face of such unprecedented demand, there weren’t enough helicopters or planes to survey the extent of the fires or drop fire retardants – and most days the smoke was so bad they couldn’t fly anyway. Brunton, the Cal Fire chief, described burning conditions that were “unprecedented and unseen by veteran firefighters”. This is what climate change looks like. (Guardian) Photo: Marcio José Sánchez/AP
Infographic: Wildfires and climate change
Fire has historically been a natural part of many wild landscapes. But global warming has changed some of the underlying variables that make wildfires more or less likely to occur every year. (Union of Concerned Scientists)
Federal report warns of financial havoc from climate change
A report commissioned by federal regulators overseeing the nation’s commodities markets has concluded that climate change threatens U.S. financial markets, as the costs of wildfires, storms, droughts and floods spread through insurance and mortgage markets, pension funds and other financial institutions. “A world wracked by frequent and devastating shocks from climate change cannot sustain the fundamental conditions supporting our financial system,” concluded the report, “Managing Climate Risk in the Financial System.” Those observations are not entirely new, but they carry new weight coming with the imprimatur of the regulator of complex financial instruments like futures, swaps and other derivatives that help fix the price of commodities like corn, oil and wheat. It is the first wide-ranging federal government study focused on the specific impacts of climate change on Wall Street. (NYT)
Wildfires hasten another climate risk: Homeowners who can't get insurance
As wildfires burn homes across California, the state is also grappling with a different kind of climate predicament: How to stop insurers from abandoning fire-prone areas, leaving countless homeowners at risk. Years of megafires have caused huge losses for insurance companies, a problem so severe that, last year, California temporarily banned insurers from canceling policies on some 800,000 homes in or near risky parts of the state. However, that ban is about expire and can’t be renewed, and a recent plan to deal with the problem fell apart in a clash between insurers and consumer advocatess. Insurers are widely expected to continue their retreat, potentially devastating the housing market if homes become essentially uninsurable. (NYT)
Climate change, Covid - our hearts ache. But a new era is possible. We can do it.
The last four years have been a long, rough road for people who care about the fate of the earth and the rights of ordinary people, and I understand the temptation to feel that what is wrong now will be wrong forever, to feel that it is too much to face and more than we can change. But anguish and hope – hope as ferocious will to continue, and not to trust the odds but to change them – can coexist. “Don’t mourn, organize!” labor organizer Joe Hill told a friend just before he was hung for dubious charges in 1915, but you can do both at once, and the more you organize the less you may need to mourn. (Guardian) Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Tools & Resources
Climate change has doubled California's autumn days with extreme fire conditions
This study shows that state-wide increases in autumn temperature (~1 °C) and decreases in autumn precipitation (~30%) over the past four decades have contributed to increases in aggregate fire weather indices (+20%). As a result, the observed frequency of autumn days with extreme (95th percentile) fire weather—which we show are preferentially associated with extreme autumn wildfires—has more than doubled in California since the early 1980s. We further find an increase in the climate model-estimated probability of these extreme autumn conditions since ~1950. Our climate model analyses suggest that continued climate change will further amplify the number of days with extreme fire weather by the end of this century, though a pathway consistent with the UN Paris commitments would substantially curb that increase. (IOP Science)
California Water Resilience Portfolio
California has released a final version of the 2020 Water Resilience Portfolio, a blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater, and other challenges. The Water Resilience Portfolio was developed by the California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Food and Agriculture to fulfill Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order to improve California’s capacity to prepare for disruptions, withstand and recover from climate-related shocks, and adapt into the future. (Link)
California Climate Investments 2020 Semi-Annual Update
The California Air Resources Board has released a 2020 semi-annual data update that describes the progress of the California Climate Investments (CCI). CCI has implemented a record $1.1 billion from December 2019 to May 2020, which is the largest increase over any six month period to date, and includes $494 million for projects to benefit disadvantaged and low-income communities. Over this six-month period, California Climate Investments saw 28,000 new projects including almost 1,700 new affordable housing units under contract and nearly 25,000 new rebates for zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles. (CCI)
Upcoming Opportunities
Clean Cars 4 All (CC4A) now accepting applications!
The CC4A program delivers electric vehicle incentives to eligible residents and is funded by Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund/California Climate Investment dollars administered by the California Air Resource Board. Up to $9,500 is available for income-qualified residents to retire their older vehicles and replace them with new or used, zero or partial-zero emissions vehicles, and the incentives can be combined with Clean Vehicle Rebate Project funds. (CC4A)
Housing opportunity grant: Homekey
Building on the success of Project Roomkey, Homekey is the next phase in the state’s response to protecting Californians experiencing homelessness who are at high risk for serious illness and are impacted by COVID-19. $600 million will be made available to cities, counties, or other local public entities; the $550 million in federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Fund must be expended by December 30, 2020; the Department will provide ongoing support to assist Grantees in meeting the deadline. The priority deadline is August 13, and the final deadline is September 29. (HCD)
Applications open to join the SAFER Advisory Group
The SAFER Advisory Group provides the State Water Board with constructive advice and feedback on the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Expenditure Plan and other related policies and analyses. The Group is composed of 19 appointed members that represent public water systems, technical assistance providers, local agencies, nongovernmental organizations, the public and residents served by community water systems in disadvantaged communities, state small water systems, and domestic wells. Applications to join the SAFER Advisory Group are open. Deadline: September 30, 2020. (SWRCB)
Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART Grants: Water and Energy Efficiency for FY21
Applications could include projects that seek to conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the production of hydropower, mitigate conflict risk in areas at a high risk of future water conflict, enable farmers to make additional on-farm improvements in the future, and accomplish other benefits that contribute to water supply reliability. Awards are available for up to $1.5 million. Eligible applicants include states, Tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, or other organizations with water or power delivery authority. Deadline September 30. (
CARB: F-gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP)
The Fluorinated Gases Emission Reduction Incentive Program, or F-gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP), established by Senate Bill 1013 (Lara, 2018) provides incentive funds to increase the voluntary adoption of low-GWP climate-friendly refrigerant technologies that reduce GHG emissions in advance of any regulatory requirements. The FRIP program has $1 million dollars to accelerate the adoption of low-GWP refrigerant technologies for new and existing retail food facilities. Deadline: October 7. (CARB)
Open for Public Comment: California Transportation Plan 2050
The California Transportation Plan 2050 is open for a 60-day public comment period. Federal and State law require the development of a State transportation plan that provides a common framework for guiding transportation decisions and investments by all levels of government. Please send all comments to by October 22. (Caltrans)
FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reward states and communities that seek to address the effects of climate change under a new grant program that provides an unprecedented amount of money for resilience projects and planning. FEMA will allocate $500 million through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program for mitigation efforts such as moving buildings out of floodplains and strengthening building codes. BRIC places an emphasis on addressing the effects of climate change; strengthening building codes; and using natural barriers such as wetlands, floodplains and reefs to build resilience to riverine flooding and sea-level rise. Local governments must apply as sub-applicants. Deadline: January 29, 2021. (FEMA)
FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance Program
The Flood Mitigation Assistance Program is a competitive grant program that provides funding to states, local communities, federally-recognized tribes and territories. Funds can be used for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program. $160 million is available through this program for the following: Project Scoping, Community Flood Mitigation Projects, Technical Assistance, Flood Hazard Mitigation Planning, and Individual Flood Mitigation Projects. Deadline: January 29, 2021. (FEMA)
Prop 68 Sierra Nevada Grant Program
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy issues grants to public agencies, nonprofits, and eligible tribes for projects that restore, protect, and enhance Sierra Nevada watersheds and communities. These grants are awarded under three programs: Forest & Watershed Health, Resilient Sierra Nevada Communities, and Vibrant Recreation & Tourism. Beginning July 2020, prospective applicants are invited to submit concept proposals, which are reviewed on a quarterly basis. Up to $5 million from Proposition 68 are available for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 funding cycles. (SNC)
Upcoming Events
Webinar: Leading with Local Action: U.S. Local Governments Contribute to Global Processes Past, Present, Future
Wednesday, September 23, 8-9.30am
September 2020 marks the 30 years since a group of emboldened mayors asserted the local contribution to global sustainability in what would come to be called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, the founding of ICLEI. Join California State Senator Nancy Skinner, an original architect of the ICLEI Charter and local-to-global champion, alongside researcher Ben Leffel and ICLEI Director of Global Policy Yunus Arikan for a look into how U.S. cities and counties continue to assert their leadership: past, present, and future. (Register)
The Public Health Dimensions of the 3 Revolutions
Thursday, September 24, 10.30am-12pm
Transportation is a key factor influencing people’s health and the health of communities, particularly for those facing inequities. Automation and shared mobility could potentially improve public health and safety, or create new (or exacerbate existing) health inequities. This panel will discuss the public health dimensions of the 3 Revolutions, and how transportation policy could be steered to enable safer and more equitable travel, promote supportive environments for physical activity, reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, and increase community resilience. (Register)
How climate change is worsening California's wildfires and what to do about it
Thursday, September 24, 5pm and Saturday, September 26, 1pm
A perfect storm of events conspired to spark the August 2020 California fires – a persistent heat dome, a tropical storm, rare summer lightning storms, and dry conditions. Via Zoom, environmental scientist and climate journalist Dana Nuccitelli will discuss the role played by climate change in that perfect storm and in the underlying hot and dry conditions. Economist Jerry Hinkle will discuss how America can finally break through its decades of failure to implement federal climate policy while boosting the economy in the process. (Register)
Rural Air Quality Issues: Unique Challenges Faces in the Rural Sacramento Region
Friday, September 25, 12.30pm
Please join the Cleaner Air Partnership for a virtual quarterly meeting to hear from rural leaders about the unique air quality and transportation issues faced in the rural areas of the Sacramento region – from farms to the foothills. We'll also hear from a Sutter Health doctor regarding the health impacts of wildfire smoke. (Register)
California-Nevada September 2020 Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar
Monday, September 28, 11am-12pm
It's been a difficult summer in CA/NV with the heat, drought, devastating wildfires, and smoke. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 71.4% of CA/NV is in drought, including 10.5% in Extreme Drought. This webinar will provide an overview of the current conditions and outlook for the fall as well as present results from a project on "Projected Changes in Reference Evapotranspiration in California and Nevada: Implications for Drought and Wildland Fire Danger." (Register)
SEEC Virtual Forum - Webinar 13: Local Governments Leading the Way through Resilient Microgrids
Tuesday, September 29, 1pm
Wildfires, power shut-offs, and other climate effects are driving the critical need for energy resiliency across California communities. Local government and institutions are taking the lead on microgrids in many areas to ensure their residents continue to receive critical services and back-up power. Speakers will discuss process, funding, multiple benefits, partnerships, and recommendations for microgrid development. (Register)
SEEC Virtual Forum - Webinar 14: Strategic Planning for a Clean Energy Future: How to Phase, Scale & Finance Smart Cities Solutions
Tuesday, October 7, 11am
The Willdan Smart Cities Working Group will share 5-7 case studies illustrating how to phase, scale, and finance smart cities solutions. The panel will include a discussion with representatives from the City of Irvine, City of Long Beach, and the City of West Hollywood who will share tips, tactics, and tools for implementation of smart cities' strategic planning efforts. The panel will also include examples of funding smart cities infrastructure with experts in New Markets Tax Credits, Opportunity Zones, and traditional forms of Capital Improvement Program funding. (Register)
California Climate Investments webinars
California Climate Investments will host a series of webinars where grantees and agency staff will share pathways to success and resources available to help you receive funding for your sustainability project. Webinars will be tailored to specific target audiences with information about funding opportunities and helpful tips. Sessions currently scheduled are Tribal Governments (9/30), Land Conservancies (10/7), Local Governments (10/14), and Nonprofits (10/21). (CCI)
Webinar: How State Governments Can Help Communities Invest in Climate Resilience
Wednesday, October 14, 10.15-11.45am PDT
What financial strategies can state governments use to help local governments invest in climate resilience? What resources do states have to fund and finance resilience? What can states do to enable local governments to raise local funds for resilience projects? How can private investment in local resilience be increased? (Register)
Addressing Climate Impacts on the Sacramento Region's Water Supplies and Environment
Wednesday, October 14, 1-5pm
The Water Forum’s Symposium, offered in partnership with CRC, will be a thought-provoking, interactive exploration of climate change and its projected impacts that threaten the Sacramento region’s water supplies, flood protection, and aquatic ecosystems and environment. The event will also discuss potential solutions, mitigation and adaptation strategies to create a climate-resilient future where all of the Sacramento region’s inhabitants can live in unison. (Register)
SEEC Virtual Forum - Webinar 15: Keeping the Focus Local: A Conversation with SoCalREN Regional Partnerships
Thursday, October 15, 10am
SoCalREN will host a panel highlighting its collaboration with regional partners from the South Bay to the High Sierra that will speak to matching SoCalREN resources with the unique needs of their disadvantaged and rural communities. Specifically, they will discuss the recent shift towards virtual services and how it may actually benefit these hard-to-reach communities. This case study reinforces that committing resources to regional reach and engagement lays a stronger foundation for the public sector to support California’s long term energy vision. (Register)
Climate Displacement Forum
October 15-November 5, 11am-12pm PDT
The Climate Displacement Forum is a 5-part webinar series that will take an interconnected look at climate displacement pressures along with approaches to prevent displacement or adapt by exploring migration, current managed retreat and relocation strategies, equity implications, and policy considerations. Register for the series and attend any or all of the sessions: (Register)
The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Capital Region.
CRC is a program of the Local Government Commission.