Governor and Legislative Leaders Cut Budget Deal, Delay Climate Investments

Governor Jerry Brown offers opening remarks at the conference on Extreme Climate Risks and  California's Future.
Governor Jerry Brown offers opening remarks at the conference on Extreme Climate Risks and California’s Future. 2011.

Despite Governor Brown’s recent strong words of warning that climate change will soon be irreversible, the administration and legislative leaders decided to wait another day to invest in climate change solutions. In a budget deal finalized this week, $500 million of the cap-and-trade auction proceeds will be loaned to the state’s General Fund to be paid back to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund sometime in the future.

The auction proceeds from the cap-and-trade program are intended to be invested in activities that further the state’s climate change goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs and delivering additional benefits like improved air and water quality and greater resilience to a changing climate. CalCAN supports investments in sustainable agricultural solutions to climate change, including farmland conservation and sustainable agricultural practices that reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon.

In a recent opinion column in the Modesto Bee, organic dairy and almond producer and CalCAN farmer advisor Ward Burroughs said: “There is no time to waste in unleashing the potential for agriculture to help slow climate change. All eyes are on California as it rolls out its cap-and-trade program, and we have the chance to be a model for others around the world for taking bold and creative action.”

In May, the Governor’s administration released their three-year investment plan for the auction proceeds, which included many of our top priorities. However, he did not see fit to start making those investments this year.

The loan of the cap-and-trade funds happened despite state budget projections from the Legislative Analyst Office of $3.2 billion in additional revenue to the state in FY 2013-14. The Governor took a more fiscally conservative approach to the budget, calling for a budget that relied on more constrained income projections. Such an approach, however, ignores the job creating potential of investing in climate solutions like renewable energy, water use efficiency, and more, and delays the state’s ability to reap the many benefits of protecting our resources, like farmland, from development, which only spurs greater GHG emissions.

The Governor and the legislature will return to the issue in January as the 2014/15 state budget is proposed. CalCAN will continue to advocate for investing in sustainable agricultural solutions to climate change.

Meanwhile, please drop us a line –  info@calclimateag.org – on what you think should happen with state’s investments in climate solutions in agriculture.  What are your best ideas?  We’ll compile and post them here.

 

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