From drought to flooding to megafires, climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of catastrophic events in California. As nature in our state is increasingly strained, so are the natural systems that we depend on for our lives and livelihoods. But if we take steps now to ensure nature thrives, we can change our state’s trajectory and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
A Climate Bond for People & Nature
With state budget cuts looming and nature declining each year, California needs to lock down a stable, long-term source of funding for nature-based climate solutions to protect our planet before it’s too late. In order to make this happen, California needs a Climate Bond. If we fail to invest in nature, we will lose one of our most important allies in our battle with climate change.
Pass a $15B Climate Bond
The Climate Bond would provide a structured investment plan to address the challenges of climate change and lock down stable, long-term funding for nature-based climate solutions. A $15 billion investment is critical to putting California on a path to climate resilience.
While nature can achieve one-third of the global greenhouse gas reductions needed to make our climate safer, nature-based climate solutions are significantly underfunded. In fact, less than 6% of California’s $19 billion 2022 Climate Budget Package was allocated to nature-based climate solutions, and an additional $1 billion in cuts have just been proposed. Simply put, if we do not invest in nature-based climate solutions, they can’t help us.
The Cost of Climate Change
Without intervention, the cost of climate change to California is estimated to reach $113 billion annually by 2050 (CNRA’s Fourth Climate Assessment). However, we’re reaching that number much faster than anticipated, with damages from recent January storm events alone estimated to be a staggering $1 billion (NOAA, billion-dollar disaster report, A. Smith).
Our state simply can’t afford to keep cleaning up one disaster after the next. We need a serious investment in nature-based climate solutions now, and a Climate Bond is the best path to get us there.
Check out TNC's paper "Nature-Based Climate Solutions: A Roadmap to Accelerate Action in California" to see how nature-based climate solutions can realize large greenhouse gas reductions and multiple societal benefits in California, and read on to learn what our scientists see as the most important nature-based climate solution investments California should be making in a Climate Bond across California's land, ocean and water.
Nature-Based Climate Solutions
The conservation, restoration and management of forests, wetlands, grasslands, farmlands and urban green spaces to mitigate climate change and its impacts.
Nature-Based Climate Priorities
Nature-Based Climate Solutions for California’s Lands
California made a historic commitment to protect 30% of its natural lands by 2030, but acres alone are not enough. Selecting the right lands to protect and determining the right ways to manage them is just as critical as meeting the acreage goal.
As of now, California’s existing protected lands do not capture the diversity of habitats needed to sustain our state’s biodiversity, and only three out of California’s eight major ecosystem types are currently protected in the state’s 30% protection milestones. California relies on a wide diversity of plants, animals and habitats to protect us from climate change, and only by conserving the habitats these species need, can we give people and nature a chance at a better future.
Land | Nature-Based Solutions
Climate change is causing massive ecological disruptions that are contributing to unprecedented biodiversity loss. To protect California’s rich biodiversity and meet our ambitious climate goals, we must fund programs to protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, conserve and restore natural and working lands and implement nature-based climate solutions. Climate change is also fueling more greater-intensity wildfires and increasing threats to lives, properties and natural habitats. We must increase our investment in programs that improve forest health and fire resilience, increase use of prescribed fire and reduce the risk of wildfires to communities.
Nature-Based Climate Solutions for Our Oceans
Oceans make our lives possible, producing 50% of the air we breathe and supporting over one million jobs in our state. But our oceans are under threat.
Ecosystems like kelp forests, eelgrass beds and oyster reefs create important habitat for hundreds of species, provide food, support jobs, and protect coastlines. Beginning in 2014, a perfect storm of climate-driven events resulted in the loss of 96% of our state’s kelp forests on California’s north coast. This loss has been devastating for nature and people alike.
TNC is at the leading edge of developing a science-driven restoration toolkit and roadmap for restoring California’s kelp forests, but we need to act fast to put it into action at scale. Our roadmap prioritizes sites with both the highest likelihood of success and the largest benefits to communities. Implementation will require both targeted and consistent funding, as well as the streamlining of regulations to support timely restoration at scale.
Ocean | Nature-Based Solutions
Healthy ocean ecosystems and coastal communities are threatened by climate change. California must invest in programs that conserve, protect and restore ocean, coastal and island ecosystems, such as kelp forests, coastal wetlands, eelgrass meadows and estuaries. To protect and conserve our vast array of marine species, we must invest in projects to implement fisheries management approaches adapted to our new climate reality and support our system of marine protected areas.
This bill would improve the resilience of California’s ocean and coastal ecosystems by accelerating the pace and scale of restoration efforts for kelp forests, seagrass meadows and oyster beds.
This bill would require that all new washing machines sold after Jan 1, 2029, contain a microfiber filtration system in order to reduce the impact of microfiber pollution on our environment.
Nature-Based Climate Solutions for Our Water
It’s time to manage California’s water for the realities of climate change.
California’s outdated approaches to water management are failing on both ends of the spectrum from drought to flooding. By taking huge volumes of water directly from our rivers and storing large amounts behind dams, we’ve severely altered how much water is flowing in our rivers, leaving them unprepared for extreme rain events like this year’s atmospheric rivers. Our science shows that restoring natural systems can protect our water supplies better than any dam. But if we allow freshwater ecosystems to dry up, there won’t be water for anyone.
Water | Nature-Based Solutions
Climate change is bringing a new, drier reality to California, punctuated by increasingly frequent and more intense storms. To respond to this new reality, we need to invest in natural infrastructure and multi-benefit projects. We can increase resilience by funding programs that build capacity to prepare for and respond to frequent and extreme droughts and storms, improve floodwater management and advance groundwater sustainability. We must also prioritize the protection of our state’s diverse freshwater species.
This bill would require the creation of streamflow principles and guidelines for the diversion and use of water in specific coastal watersheds to enhance drought preparedness and support creative solutions to increase water reliability for people, protect native fish and improve climate resiliency.
This bill would codify the California Monitoring Program, which measures the recovery of salmon and would provide a reliable funding stream to the program to ensure the continuous collection of vital data.
California, it’s time to lock down a stable, long-term source of funding for nature-based climate solutions to protect our planet. It’s time for a Climate Bond.
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