Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Website Shows Where California Is Fighting Climate Change

By Sophie Ho
Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 5:11 PM

click to enlarge CLIMATE BENEFITS FOR CALIFORNIA
  • Climate Benefits for California
For those who doubt California’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Climate Benefits for California, a new website from Oakland-based nonprofit TransForm, provides an extensive database highlighting the impacts of projects funded by the state's cap-and-trade program. TransForm, an environmental and transportation advocacy group, has also built a searchable map on the website that shows where projects have been funded throughout the state and details the environmental benefits they are providing — ranging from reduced emissions to innovative transportation plans.  

The goal of the website, according to TransForm communications director Shannon Tracey, is to show how the state's efforts to fight climate change are improving people’s lives — a task she said was difficult without having the data in one place. On Climate Benefits for California, users can search for programs in specific communities, see how many programs are funded in certain regions, look up funding amounts for projects, and read stories of people impacted by the programs. Currently, the website, which launched yesterday, provides data on 221 projects, funded by more than $450 million in grants.

California’s cap-and-trade program, adopted in 2006 and aimed at combating climate change, requires large businesses that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year to acquire permits for the emissions. A state grant program distributes funds raised through the permitting process to projects that reduce pollution — projects which are now on display at the Climate Benefits for California site. 

The impetus of the program, Tracey said, is partly to lead by example; by showing the positive impact of the investment program, the hope is that other states or countries might be encouraged to pursue similar policies. 
click to enlarge Users can search based on geography and see the projects funded in that area. - CLIMATE BENEFITS FOR CALIFORNIA
  • Climate Benefits for California
  • Users can search based on geography and see the projects funded in that area.

“Californians need to see how these investments make communities healthy and fair,” Tracey said. As the legislature continues to discuss how the state will address climate change, Tracey said it's important to show how projects can also improve the economy and the health of communities.

Tracey said she hoped that other advocacy groups would share the project with their constituents and use it as a tool to encourage local officials to apply for the grants in their neighborhoods.

The site is still in its beta version — in the future, the organization hopes to add more features, such as more sharing abilities and stories from community members. “It feels great to have the basic container constructed so that everyone can have access to this information," Tracey said.

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