This report explores new or expanded funding sources and financial tools that state and local governments in California can use to prepare for and respond to the effects of climate change in a fiscally responsible and equitable manner. The four pathways focus on funding for regional transportation planning, extreme heat policy reform, resilience finance districts, and wildfire risk reduction. This report, released on April 30, 2021, is authored by the OnClimate Team with support from Resources Legacy Fund.
Biden’s Conservation Commitment Much More Than A Climate Solution
May 7, 2021
The United States is facing a multitude of crises: climate change, species extinction, languishing public health, racial and economic inequity, and the legacies of colonialism. These crises were destined to collide, which is why resolving them demands an integrated problem-solving approach. President Biden’s launch on May 6 of an ambitious national initiative to conserve and restore 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 (“30x30”) is an important contribution to solving the problems our nation and world have incubated over the past two centuries. We’re at a tipping point, and that is why the ambitious 10-year goals of this…
California Coastal Program
Established in 2012, the California Coastal Program (CCP) seeks to elevate coastal conservation as a priority for California policymakers. The program works to advance funding and policies that address important threats, such as sea level rise, to coastal and marine resources and communities, promote equitable public access to beaches and other coastal resources, and ensure public agencies and officials are accountable for strong coastal management.
Transportation, Housing, and Land Use
Working at the intersection of transportation and land use policies the Transportation, Housing, and Land Use program seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote affordable housing and climate resilient communities, advance equity, and protect natural resources.
California Conservation Innovations
The California Conservation Innovations program seeks to strengthen land and water conservation policies in California, increase long-term public funding for land and water conservation, and engage younger and more ethnically diverse conservation constituencies to help shape program conservation initiatives and increase conservation benefits for their communities. It works toward these goals by supporting efforts to advance policy goals related to parks access and stewardship, water resources, and climate change adaptation and resiliency; increase public funding and expand finance mechanisms for conservation; and increase participation and influence of under-engaged communities in conservation.
San Francisco Bay Area Conservation
RLF has been working in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2001, when it commenced efforts to secure the acquisition of commercial salt ponds surrounding the San Francisco Bay. Current efforts support wetlands restoration around the Bay, with a focus on building a diverse constituency to support equitable, long-term funding and government policies for Bay restoration and flood improvements, including the effective implementation of Measure AA.
RLF also supports a regional land conservation approach in the Bay Area that boosts ecosystem resilience for conservation and communities. RLF focuses on multi-benefit conservation efforts that protect and restore high-value habitat and wildlife linkages, provide recreation opportunities, and address natural threats such as climate change, flood, drought, and fire.
Governor Announces Ambitious Biodiversity Targets for California
October 7, 2020
Today, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to protect 30 percent of California’s land and ocean by 2030 (30x30). This announcement makes California the first state in the United States to commit to the global 30x30 effort targeted by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The executive order also directs California to elevate the role of natural and working lands conservation in its efforts to combat climate change. “Resources Legacy Fund congratulates Governor Newsom for taking this bold and necessary step to stem the dual threats of biodiversity loss and climate change. With this announcement, the governor demonstrates that…
Recovery with Resilience: Public Investments for a Sustainable, Equitable Future
August 21, 2020
Image: Montana Conservation Corps crews, made up of high school and college students from the Wind River Indian Reservation, helping Chicago Botanic Garden interns collect seeds for the Seeds of Success program in the BLM Lander Field Office area. As America’s COVID catastrophe worsens, inflicting a depth of social and economic distress unprecedented in modern times, policymakers have a moral duty to implement a socially and environmentally just recovery, one that rectifies past systemic harms and steers our nation toward a brighter, greener, and more resilient future. Seven months since the first case of COVID-19 was detected here, our country…
A bond measure to protect California communities from wildfires, droughts, floods, and extreme heat events could create between 75,000 and 119,000 jobs statewide, and generate between $9.6 billion and $15 billion in total economic activity according to a new study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. The study, supported by the Resources Legacy Fund, provides a quantitative, model-based analysis of the economic and job impacts of a potential bond measure between $5 billion and $8 billion that reflects recent proposals from Governor Newsom and the State Senate and Assembly.
In November 2019, RLF President Michael Mantell and Cathy Reheis-Boyd, Western States Petroleum Association President, co-wrote an op-ed published in the Sacramento Bee that suggested how thoughtful environmentalists and petroleum producers could collaborate in moving realistically toward a sustainable, non-fossil fuel-based energy future.
Climate change touches the lives of all Californians and virtually every aspect of state government. As California works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it must adapt to the climate impacts that have already begun and build resilience to face the changes to come. To help guide adaptation policies and funding under the Newsom Administration, RLF commissioned a review–including input from an advisory team of California scientists and policy experts–of California’s climate policy and approaches from the last 10 years and developed strategic recommendations for moving forward.
In a commentary published by Inside Philanthropy, RLF Vice President Peter Teague makes the case that coping with climate change, community by community, offers an antidote to divisive politics. Philanthropy is uniquely positioned to cut through the ideological noise to help communities prepare for higher sea levels, more intense heat waves, deeper droughts, and other effects of a changing climate. The December 2018 article is here.
RLF supported and guided AECOM’s creation of Paying for Climate Adaptation in California: A Primer for Practitioners. The October 2018 report describes options for investing in more resilient California communities and infrastructure and recommends ways to overcome the challenges that discourage cities, counties, water districts, utilities, state agencies, private companies, and other entities from making the investments California needs to thrive despite climate change. (Summary can be found here.)
In 2018, RLF supported preparation of an inaugural Climate Justice Report to summarize peer-reviewed research and stimulate discussion on how California can ensure that no group of people disproportionately bears the burden of climate impacts or the costs of mitigation and adaptation. The report, available here, was incorporated into the California Natural Resources Agency’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment,which provides actionable science to guide state policy.
In February 2012, RLF convened a panel of leading scientists to answer the question: “How can California secure its most important natural assets—its vibrant ecosystems and the many benefits they provide to society—given the future that climate change presents?” The result, after extensive peer review, was a set of guiding principles for ecosystem adaptation. You can find the guidelines here.
In February 2015, the journal BioScience published an article that grew out of RLF’s 2012 report. “Adapting California’s Ecosystems” explores efforts to translate improved understanding of how climate change is altering ecosystems into practical actions for sustaining ecosystem functions and benefits. The article, included in the March 2015 issue of BioScience, can be viewed here.
In 2003, with funding from the Goldman Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, RLF helped federal and state agencies purchase more than 16,000 acres of commercial salt ponds and property ringing South San Francisco Bay and in Napa County. From 2003-2013, RLF supported the work of Pelican Media to photographically document the restoration of the salt ponds, capturing the original condition of the salt-making operations and ponds, restoration activities, public use, and wildlife.
Finding Hope in the Moment
April 1, 2020
When I sat down to write this blog, I began by reflecting on the first 20 years of RLF’s work and what the next 20 years will bring. Coronavirus had yet to upend the lives of many outside the Asian continent. Just a few weeks later, most of the country is on lock-down, the economy has imploded, nearly 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment, and the global death toll has topped 45,000, rapidly accelerating.* As devastating as this new reality is, I find comfort in the fact that we are coming together as neighbors, Americans, corporations, philanthropists, and global…