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Capital Region Climate News & Resources: May 26, 2021

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News

SMUD announces ambitious 2030 Zero Carbon Plan

For decades, SMUD has been a leader in clean energy and carbon reduction, and its 2030 Zero Carbon Vision continues this commitment. SMUD’s goal is to reach zero carbon emissions in its power supply by 2030 – the most ambitious goal of any large utility in the United States. This ambitious goal puts the Sacramento Region on the map as an example to follow and a region where innovative, climate-friendly businesses want to be. Going absolute zero carbon is a bold and ambitious goal – one we believe we can and must achieve. Learn more about SMUD’s bold journey to eliminate 100% of GHG emissions from electric generation by 2030. (SMUD)

Whitest-ever paint could help cool heating Earth, study shows

The new paint reflects 98% of sunlight as well as radiating infrared heat through the atmosphere into space. In tests, it cooled surfaces by 8 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature, even in strong sunlight. Currently available reflective white paints are far better than dark roofing materials, but only reflect 80-90% of sunlight and absorb UV light. This means they cannot cool surfaces below ambient temperatures. The new paint does this, leading to less need for air conditioning. The researchers said the paint could be on the market in one or two years. The researchers said the ultra-white paint uses a standard acrylic solvent and could be manufactured like conventional paint. (Guardian)

California’s wildfire smoke could be more harmful than vehicle emissions, study says

Gov. Newsom has placed most of the state under a drought emergency, which could leave communities struggling with agricultural pollution without drinking water. (Inside Climate News)

California’s relentless droughts strain farming towns

As consecutive years of catastrophic wildfires in California drive up the cost of insuring homes, state regulators announced a step toward creating incentives for retrofitting older homes to make them more resilient to fires. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said his office will work with four state agencies charged with wildfire response and prevention to establish statewide standards for home hardening — from replacing single to dual-paned windows to creating fire-resistant landscaping — that he hopes will reduce wildfire risks and make insurance more affordable and available in California. The move comes as insurance providers increasingly drop coverage in fire-prone regions of the state. (AP) Photo Credit: AP, Noah Berger

In America’s cities, inequality is engrained in the trees

A new study shows that tree canopy distribution often depends on race and class, a result of exclusionary zoning laws, racial segregation, and the country’s stark wealth inequality. 92 percent of low-income blocks in the U.S. have less tree cover and hotter average temperatures than high-income blocks. On average, tree cover was 15 percent less for low-income blocks compared to high-income ones. A $17.6 billion investment in tree planting and natural regeneration could correct these disparities and benefit 42 million people by protecting them from heatwaves — shown to cause the most harm to poor people of color — and lowering air pollution levels while improving both physical and mental health. (Grist)

Extreme heat risks widely underestimated and sometimes left out of major climate reports

The growing health threats of extreme heat over populated areas are “not sufficiently captured” by major reports and emergency databases, or communicated adequately by English-language media, according to new research. Even though heat waves are one of the leading causes of death linked to global warming, “Extreme heat is not adequately looked at in research and policy, in comparison to the risk.” (Inside Climate News)

Hotter days widen racial gap in US schools, data shows

Rising temperatures are widening the racial achievement gap in United States schools, new research suggests, offering the latest evidence that the burdens of climate change fall disproportionately on people of color. Researchers found that students performed worse on standardized tests for every additional day over 80F, even after controlling for other factors. Those effects held across 58 countries, suggesting a fundamental link between heat exposure and reduced learning. But when the researchers looked specifically at the United States, they found something surprising: The detrimental impact of heat seemed to affect only Black and Hispanic students. The findings are the newest addition to a growing body of research showing that climate change in general, and rising temperatures in particular, have a greater effect on minorities. (NYT)

Doctors put a price tag on the annual health impacts of climate change. It’s $820 billion.

Some of those health costs include premature death, medical care for physical and mental health after a major natural disaster, lost wages due to climate-related illnesses, and the price of filling prescription medications for those illnesses. By aggregating past climate-related public health costs, the report The Costs of Inaction: The Economic Burden of Fossil Fuels and Climate Change on Health in the United States shows that myriad medical issues brought on by climate change are already taking a financial toll on taxpayers. (Grist)

Cool roofs can help shield California’s cities against heat waves

A study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that if every building in California sported “cool” roofs by 2050, these roofs would help contribute to protecting urbanites from the consequences of dangerous heatwaves, which are likely to become two to 10 times more frequent by mid-century. Cool roofs adoption throughout California’s most populous areas—the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento—could bring down heat wave exposures (defined as each time a person experiences a heat wave) by 35 million each year, compared to 80 million in a base case scenario. (Phys.org)

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Tools and Resources

How to assess the multiple interacting risks of climate change

In a highly connected world, climate risks – and our responses to them – can be transmitted from one system or sector to another, creating new risks and making existing ones more or less severe. These interactions include both the risks caused by climate change itself and those triggered by adaptation and mitigation responses. Adaptation and mitigation actions are often not considered as part of climate risk assessment. In a new paper, published in the journal One Earth, we address the challenges in assessing and responding to climate risks in three ways – through recognising mitigation and adaptation responses as potential drivers of risk, identifying how the multiple drivers of risk interact, and pinpointing how risks interact between themselves. (WEF)

CARB Tools for Emergency Backup Power Alternatives

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has released two tools to help identify zero-emission, near-zero-emission, and advanced conventional technologies for backup power generation for both commercial and residential applications. These tools are part of CARB’s Technology Clearinghouse and feature technologies that are beyond existing best available control technology (BACT) requirements. Use of these technologies may help to further minimize GHGs and community-level air pollutant emission exposure during Public Safety Power Shutoff events or other emergency events. (Explore the residential and commercial tools)

California Climate Investments 2021 Annual Report

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the Annual California Climate Investments (CCI) Report to the Legislature. Despite the challenges posed by a global pandemic and unprecedented heat and wildfires, 2020 was another record year for CCI with more than $3.1 billion invested in more than 51,000  projects across California’s 58 counties. Of the $3.1 billion investment, $1 billion is benefiting disadvantaged and low-income communities and households — collectively referred to as priority populations. To date, more than $4 billion in CCI funds have benefited priority populations — nearly half of all project investments. (CARB)

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Upcoming Opportunities

Floodplain Management, Protection, and Risk Awareness Grant Program

The Floodplain Management, Protection and Risk Awareness (FMPRA) Grant Program supports local agency efforts to prepare for flooding by providing financial assistance for flood risk reduction activities related to stormwater flooding, mudslides, and flash floods. The Program supports both the Public Safety Initiative announced by Governor Brown’s Administration in February 2017 and the Headwaters to Floodplains Flood Safety Partnership Program. $25 million is available. Deadline: Summer 2021. (DWR)

Inland Counties Incentive Project

The Inland Counties Incentive Project provides financial incentives to expand electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in 13 rural counties including El Dorado, Placer, Solano, Sutter, and Yolo counties. The rebates can cover up to 75 percent of the costs for establishing EV charging stations, including charging equipment, electrical infrastructure, and other related costs, with a total of $17.5 million available. Eligible entities include multi-family dwelling units, shopping centers, gas stations, hotels, retail cores, parking garages, and more. (CalEVIP)

2021 Immediate Action Wildfire and Forest Resilience Directed Grant Program

The specific focus is the implementation of forest health projects that address wildfire recovery and resilience and support the goals of California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Watershed Improvement Program. The program aims to support projects that result in a combination of multiple watershed, ecosystem, and community benefits. $20 million is available, and the deadline is ongoing. (Grants.ca.gov)

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program

This grant program provides funding to support community-based organizations in their efforts to collaborate and partner with local stakeholder groups as they develop community-driven solutions that address environmental and/or public health issues for underserved communities. Deadline: June 1. (Grants.gov)

Apply for Round 7 of the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program

The California Strategic Growth Council and the California Department of Conservation are seeking applications from cities, counties, Native American tribes, land trusts, and other governmental and non-profit entities for projects that protect agricultural land and reduce GHGs. There are two types of grants: 1) Sustainable Agricultural Conservation Planning grants support the development of local and regional land-use policies and economic development strategies to protect critical agricultural land; 2) Agricultural Conservation Acquisition grants permanently protect agricultural lands that are at risk of conversion to sprawl development. Pre-proposals for acquisition grants are due June 1, and for planning grants July 1. (SGC)

Strategic Growth Council (SGC): Applications Now Open for AHSC Round 6  

The SGC’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program is now accepting applications for Round 6! AHSC funds land-use, housing, transportation, and land preservation projects to support infill and compact development projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. AHSC provides grants and loans that help build projects that increase access to affordable housing, employment centers, and key destinations via low-carbon transportation. Visit the AHSC website for information about upcoming informational webinars, technical assistance opportunities, and detailed information. Deadline: June 8, 5pm. (SGC)

Building Resilience Against Climate Effects: Implementing and Evaluating Adaptation Strategies that Protect and Promote Human Health

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to build and enhance the resilience of cities and states to the health impacts of climate change. Resilience will be enhanced through three overarching strategies implemented by recipients. Key outcomes will be increased knowledge of adaptation actions that reduce adverse health effects of climate change and an enhanced evidence base for effective climate and health adaptation actions. Deadline: June 18. (Grants.gov)

Floodplain Management, Protection, and Risk Awareness Grant Program

The Floodplain Management, Protection and Risk Awareness Grant Program supports local agency efforts to prepare for flooding by providing financial assistance for flood risk reduction activities related to stormwater flooding, mudslides, and flash floods. $25 million is available. Deadline: Summer 2021. (DWR)

California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) Electric Vehicle Charging Station (EVCS) Financing Program

The program’s goal is to expand the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations installed by small businesses in California. Millions of consumers in the state do not buy zero emission electric vehicles because of the driving range and the lack of charging stations. This program provides incentives to small business owners and landlords to install EV charging stations for employees, clients and tenants. Applications are accepted and awarded continuously. (Apply)

Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program offers rebates for installing energy storage technology at both households and non-residential facilities. These storage technologies include battery storage systems. This funding includes prioritization of communities living in high fire-threat areas, communities that have experienced two or more utility Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPSs), as well as low income and medically vulnerable customers. The funds are also available for “critical facilities” that support community resilience in the event of a PSPS or wildfire. (CPUC and website)

Forest and Watershed Health – Direct Grants Program

The Forest and Watershed Health Directed Grants Program aims to support projects that create or improve forest conditions that result in a combination of multiple watershed, ecosystem, and community benefits. To be considered, projects must fall within at least one of the following focus areas: 1) implementation of prescribed fire; 2) projects that connect and serve underserved partners; 3) large-landscape planning projects for forest health that demonstrate multiple watershed and ecosystem benefits on a minimum of 10,000 acres. (SNC)

California Volkswagen Mitigation Trust: Transit Bus Funding

The VW Mitigation Trust has $130 million in funding to replace older, high-polluting transit and shuttle buses with new battery-electric or fuel-cell buses. Replacing an older bus with a zero-emission bus eliminates particulate matter and other pollutants. The organization accepts applications on an ongoing basis. (Apply)

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program

This program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. Essential community facilities include health care facilities, public civic facilities, community support services, local food systems, and more. Funds can be used to purchase, construct, and/or improve essential community facilities, to purchase equipment, and to pay related project expenses. The USDA reviews applications on a rolling basis. (Apply)

California Wildlands Grassroots Fund

Cal Wildlands supports conservationists advocating for the permanent protection, including restoration and stewardship, of intact wildlands on both public and private lands to help preserve California’s wilderness and native biological diversity. Though many of our grantees’ projects are in rural areas, we may also support projects near urban or suburban settings, provided they feature connectivity to larger protected areas and/or are located along critical wildlife corridors. Funding decisions are made on a quarterly basis, but applications are accepted any time. (Link)

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)

Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)

The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program offers rebates for installing energy storage technology at both households and non-residential facilities. These storage technologies include battery storage systems. This funding includes prioritization of communities living in high fire-threat areas, communities that have experienced two or more utility Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPSs), as well as low income and medically vulnerable customers. The funds are also available for “critical facilities” that support community resilience in the event of a PSPS or wildfire. In preparation for the next wildfire season, the CPUC has authorized funding of more than $1 billion through 2024. (CPUC and website)

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