A bear in a field surrounded by forest fires.
Nature Matters California deserves better than this. © TNC
Stories in California

California Needs a Climate Bond

Invest in nature. Invest in our future.

California Needs a Climate Bond

California is leaving nature behind and putting people at risk. A series of budget cuts have significantly reduced funding for programs that forward nature-based climate solutions—cost-efficient and effective ways to prevent megafires, flooding and extreme heat.

Protections for nature should be a key part of California’s major funding priorities from mental health to education. But the state is cutting programs we can’t afford to lose, programs that make those priorities possible. To protect Californians, we need to pass the climate bond now.

Quote: Mike Sweeney

Nature can protect California against the worst effects of climate change, but less than 3% of the state's budget is allocated to protecting natural resources. It's time to let nature do its job.

Mike Sweeney Executive Director of TNC CA
A fire crew at an operation near Butte Meadows, California, at the Dixie Fire. July, 2021.
CA NEEDS A CLIMATE BOND A fire crew at an operation near Butte Meadows, California, at the Dixie Fire. July, 2021. © Stuart Palley

CA Needs a Future Where People and Nature Thrive

Without intervention, the cost of climate change to California is estimated to reach $113 billion annually by 2050 (CNRA’s Fourth Climate Assessment). But we’re reaching that number much faster than anticipated. Last year's atmospheric rivers brought record snowfall, intense rain and severe flooding that resulted in damages for California totaling more than $4.6 billion

Our state can’t afford to keep cleaning up one disaster after the next. We need serious investments in nature-based climate solutions that PREVENT destruction, not expensive band-aids. The climate bond will provide critical funding to protect California’s iconic landscapes and native species, while also helping Californians adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. 

California Needs...

  • Public safety is extremely important to Californians, but climate impacts like heat, fire and flooding threaten well-being in multiple ways. The recent IPCC report shows that incidents of crime and domestic violence increase during extreme weather and heat events, and with the last eight years categorized as “the hottest year on record” California can’t afford to ignore the problem. 

    Nature’s Solution: Urban Tree Cover

    Increasing urban tree cover can lower temperatures up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a cheap and durable way to uplift neighborhoods and decrease crime.

  • California’s drinking water relies on the health of our rivers and aquifers. But overpumping of groundwater and water diversions from rivers are drying up the water we all rely on. 

    Nature’s Solution: Functional Flows

    The Nature Conservancy led a state-wide initiative to determine how much water our rivers and streams need to support nature and people. We have the answer, now it’s time to make sure nature gets that water. California must transition to a future where our rivers are managed to benefit wildlife, a move that coincidentally gives them the tools to use against extreme drought and flooding. 

  • Californians can’t function if we can’t breathe. Smoke from megafires is keeping us inside, shutting down schools and businesses and impacting our health. At the same time, megafires have displaced whole communities.

    Nature’s Solution: Forest Restoration

    Ecological forest restoration is proven to prevent megafires. This proactive management technique includes thinning and controlled burns and it preempts the need for fire suppression so Cal Fire and the US Forest Service can better spend their resources. 

  • California is in a mental health crisis. Nearly 1 in 7 adults in our state experience a mental illness, and 1 in 14 children have an emotional disturbance that limits functioning (California Health Care Foundation). Access to nature is proven to positively impact mental health, but open space is less available to the Californians who need it most. At the same time, poorly planned development is eating into natural areas, removing open space access and increasing wildfire risk. 

    Nature’s Solution: Open Space Around Cities

    TNC has a plan to protect the natural lands that matter to Californians and sustain the native species with whom we share this state. Creating open space around communities not only improves mental health and protects wildlife, it saves lives in the face of wildfire. We’re working with the Paradise Rec and Park District to design an open space buffer for the new city plan that will reduce wildfire risk by nearly 70%.

Coastal Dunes at Moss Landing in California.
Nature-Based Climate Solutions Wetland and dunes provide many benefits including increased carbon stocks & flood protection.

What are Nature-Based Climate Solutions?

Conservation projects that store carbon and protect against the effects of climate change. Restored forests can prevent megafires. Wetlands and dunes insulate us from sea-level rise. And open space benefits us all. 

× Coastal Dunes at Moss Landing in California.

Nature-Based Climate Priorities

A house nearly engulfed with smoke and fire.
Land Nature can protect our lands. © TNC

California Needs Healthy Natural Lands

California made a historic commitment to protect 30% of its natural lands by 2030, but acres alone are not enough. To protect California’s rich diversity of plants and animals, we need to make sure we are protecting lands across all habitat types and managing these lands effectively. 

California relies on a wide diversity of plants, animals and habitats to protect us from disease and the effects of climate change, but only three out of California’s eight major ecosystem types are currently protected under the state’s 30% protection milestones.

The climate bond will ensure that we have the funding to support all of California's rich and diverse habitats.

Climate Bond Priorities for Land

  • Our state already has programs to protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, conserve and restore natural and working lands and implement nature-based climate solutions, but their funding is being cut.

    We have the solutions, we just need to invest in them. 

  • TNC supports $1 billion to the Wildlife Conservation Board for habitat protection.

  • Climate change is fueling more wildfires and, after three wet years led to increased vegetation, conditions are set for another megafire. We must increase our investment in programs that improve forest health and fire resilience, increase the use of prescribed fire and reduce the risk of wildfires to communities.

Surfer walking on beach covered in trash.
Oceans Nature can protect our oceans. © Jason Childs

California Needs Healthy Oceans

Oceans produce 50% of the air we breathe and support over one million jobs in our state. But our oceans are under threat. 

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 devastated the ecosystem and the local economy.

Climate Bond Priorities for Oceans

  • Conserve, protect and restore ocean, coastal and island ecosystems, such as kelp forests, coastal wetlands, seagrass meadows and estuaries.

  • Implement fisheries management approaches adapted to California’s new climate reality and support our system of marine protected areas. 

  • Protect and restore island ecosystems by addressing threats posed by island invasive species and advancing biosecurity initiatives.

  • Protect and restore our coastal wetlands to buffer our communities from sea-level rise and enhance the extent and resilience of coastal habitats.

A dry river bed surrounded by cracked dirt.
Water Nature can protect our water © TNC

California Needs Healthy Rivers

It’s time to manage California’s water for the realities of climate change. 

Weather whiplash illustrates the dramatic extremes of California’s climate and requires a new approach to water management. We’ve altered how much water is flowing in California's streams, leaving them unprepared for extreme rain events like atmospheric rivers or for devastating droughts. The Nature Conservancy’s science shows that restoring natural systems can protect our water supplies and knowing when and where nature needs water will allow us to reconcile California’s water needs with the realities of climate change.

The Nature Conservancy is supporting policies that enable communities to start planning for droughts while keeping enough water instream. This protects keystone species like salmon and supports California’s freshwater ecosystems from riverside forests to wetlands.

Climate Bond Priorities for Water

  • Fund the Wildlife Conservation Board’s Streamflow Enhancement Program to improve aquatic and riparian habitats and enhance water availability for fish and wildlife.

  • Improve and increase water data by deploying new stream gages and reactivating and upgrading existing gages. Expand data on salmon and steelhead trout recovery through investments in the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s California Monitoring Program.

  • Invest in the Department of Conservation’s Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program that funds groundwater sustainability projects that provide wildlife habitat, drought resilience and climate benefits and support the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

  • Support for projects that improve water quality and provide clean, safe and reliable drinking water for communities across the state.


California needs a climate bond.