This entry is cross-posted from TransForm’s blog.
Even as he acknowledged that we are nearing a climate tipping point and that it will take two more years to recover the jobs lost during the Great Recession, Governor Brown yesterday released a budget that punts fighting climate change and tackling a still-sluggish economy to an undisclosed date in the future.
The revised budget includes a proposal to loan $500 million indefinitely from California’s landmark cap-and-trade auction to the General Fund. This is funding we should invest this year to reduce climate pollution, grow our economy, and provide Californians with real transportation choices. Now it is up to the legislature to reject this proposal as they consider the State’s overall budget. TransForm and a host of allies are working to focus this funding on its intended use: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support disadvantaged communities and improve public health and the economy.
California and its regions have set ambitious goals to invest in transportation choices and more affordable homes as key strategies to reduce climate change pollution. But cities and regions are facing huge shortfalls to make these growth blueprints a reality. Cap-and-trade auction revenues can begin filling this shortfall, put Californians back to work building the 21st century transportation system we need, and provide us with real, affordable, and efficient alternatives to our traffic-choked freeways.
Just hours after Governor Brown proposed the $500 million loan, the California Air Resources Board released its final three-year investment plan for cap-and-trade. The plan is extremely strong, and includes a list of existing and proposed programs that mirrored our Sustainable Communities for All platform. Many of these programs, like State Transit Assistance or the Transit-Oriented Development program would greatly benefit from cap-and-trade investments this year.
The Governor’s actions also strengthened our resolve to ensure sustainable communities remain a core part of of cap-and-trade. That’s why TransForm is working with Housing California and our allies to establish an innovative new program to invest cap-and-trade auction revenues beyond this year. AB 1051, a bill we are currently supporting, is making its way through the Assembly now. AB 1051 would create the Sustainable Communities for All Program to invest in affordable, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods with robust public transportation.
Last week we received the sobering news that atmospheric carbon concentrations have hit 400 ppm, a threshold widely recognized as putting us dangerously close to irreversible and drastic climate impacts. This news should be a call to action. It’s time to put that $500 million to work.