California Dedicates $15 Billion for Climate Action and Protecting Frontline Communities

On September 23, 2021, California signed a $15-billion climate-investment package that includes 24 bills dedicated to tackling the climate crisis and protecting frontline communities in California. The bills address clean energy, wildfires, droughts, community climate resilience, sustainable agriculture, extreme heat, and sea-level rise, among other topics. As Governor Gavin Newsom explained, the bills aim to address “the climate crisis head-on while protecting the hardest-hit communities” in California. The $15 billion will be spent over the course of the next three years. 

The final legislation includes:

  • $1.5 billion for wildfire and forest resilience;
  • $5.2 billion for water and drought resilience;
  • $3.7 billion for climate resilience;
  • $1.1 billion for climate-smart agriculture;
  • $3.9 billion for zero-emission vehicles;
  • $270 million for building a circular economy that promotes sustainability; and 
  • $150 million for urban waterfront parks. 

More information about each of the aforementioned funding allocations is provided below.

$1.5 Billion for Wildfire and Forest Resilience 

California’s wildfires are now starting earlier and ending later due to climate change. This money is dedicated to developing a statewide comprehensive forest and wildfire resilience strategy with a focus on fire-vulnerable communities. Among other things, the money is aimed at funding projects that reduce wildfire risk to communities, in addition to improving the health of forests and wildlands. 

$5.2 Billion for Water and Drought Resilience 

California droughts are now more repetitive and severe due to climate change. This money is dedicated to developing effective community responses to drought and long-term water resilience. The money will fund emergency drought relief projects, building drinking water and wastewater infrastructure especially for hardest-hit communities, improvements to water supply security and quality, and nature-based solutions.

$3.7 Billion for Climate Resilience 

This money is focused on supporting frontline communities and funding local environmental justice projects. This money is intended to help communities build resilience to various climate risks. The investments include addressing extreme heat by funding urban greening projects, community resilience centers, and projects that lower the urban heat island effect. They also support the state’s Extreme Heat Framework, which is part of Safeguarding California, California’s climate adaptation strategy. The investments will also include addressing sea-level rise and coastal adaptation by funding projects that protect ecosystems. Lastly, the money will be used to fund the California Climate Action CorpsCalifornia Volunteers and Governor Gavin Newsom’s office launched the California Climate Action Corps in 2020. The Climate Action Corps supports climate projects specifically in low-income and frontline communities and has a mission of building more resilient communities. 

$1.1 Billion for Climate-Smart Agriculture 

Droughts and extreme heat have disrupted California’s agricultural and food systems. This money will support implementing sustainable agriculture practices and developing a more equitable food system. California is investing in healthy soils management, reducing livestock methane emissions, replacing old agricultural equipment with new equipment that will produce less greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting the creation of farm conservation management plans. Lastly, the money will fund projects that increase healthy food access for seniors and schools. 

$3.9 Billion for Zero-Emission Vehicles

This money will fund the development of 1,000 zero-emission drayage trucks, 1,000 zero-emission school buses, and 1,000 transit buses. The money will also cover building essential infrastructure for these vehicles. To support low-income communities, the money will provide consumer rebates for zero-emission vehicle purchases, as well as incentives for low-income residents to replace an older vehicle with a newer model with advanced technology.

$270 Million for the Circular Economy 

This money aims at lowering the amount of short-lived climate pollutants in the air by funding organic waste infrastructure, edible food recovery, composting, and non-organic recycling.

$150 Million for Waterfront Parks 

This money will be allocated for urban waterfront parks, especially in low-income communities.


California hopes that this money will “protect Californians and critical habitats from the impacts of climate change.” More information about these specific allocations can be found in the California Department of Finance’s 2021 budget addendum summary.

Publication Date: September 23, 2021

Related Organizations:

  • State of California

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