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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Advantaging Communities: Co-Benefits and Community Engagement in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund


California has long been a leader in climate change policy. Considering the gridlocked nature of the United States Congress and the increasing degradation of the environment through excess carbon emissions, the need for leadership today is especially critical. California’s focus on combating climate change and promoting equitable development through a legislative agenda takes advantage of the significant investment opportunities provided by California’s Cap-and-Trade auctions. As a result, California remains a trend-setter of environmental policies for other states and even other countries around the world.

California’s ability to provide replicable models for the rest of the world depends upon the development of successful policies and programs in the initial funding cycles of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). Informing this groundbreaking approach through “best practices” of equitable green development, technical expertise and authentic community engagement is a crucial step to ensure lasting and meaningful revitalization for environmental justice communities.

Advantaging Communities focuses on environmental justice policy recommendations for GGRF investments in “disadvantaged communities” (DACs) that maintain a primary focus on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions, while maximizing environmental, public health and economic co-benefits, and engaging in authentic community partnerships. This report promotes targeted objectives for DACs, including quality of life improvements, greater resilience for vulnerable populations, and community-determined investments. Co-benefit maximization is sought through cross-cutting investment strategies, stronger baseline requirements and incentives for individual programs; high road labor practices; proactive anti-displacement measures and specific methods of community engagement.

This document provides a community perspective for State agencies administering the GGRF and individual programs funded by Cap-andTrade auction revenues. It also serves as a guide for community advocates to navigate the complex landscape of the GGRF, and where it most needs to address issues of social, environmental and economic equity.

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