California Climate Investments to Benefit Disadvantaged Communities

Disadvantaged communities in California are specifically targeted for investment of proceeds from the State’s cap-and-trade program. Known as California Climate Investments, these funds are aimed at improving public health, quality of life and economic opportunity in California’s most burdened communities at the same time they’re reducing pollution that causes climate change.

Funds received from the cap-and-trade program are deposited into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated by the Legislature. They must be used for programs that further reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Senate Bill 535 (De León, Statutes of 2012) directed that at least a quarter of the proceeds go to projects that provide a benefit to disadvantaged communities and at least 10 percent of the funds go to projects located within those communities. The legislation gives CalEPA the responsibility for identifying those communities.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1550 (Gomez, Statutes of 2016) modified the investment minimums to disadvantaged communities. AB 1550 requires at least 25 percent of funds go to projects within and benefitting disadvantaged communities and at least an additional 10 percent is for low-income households or communities.

Disadvantaged Community Designation

In February 2017, CalEPA and Air Resources Board (ARB) staff held community meetings to discuss how to identify disadvantaged and low-income communities for the purpose of investing Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds and implementing SB 535 and AB 1550.  Meetings were held in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Oakland.  A webinar was also held on February 2, 2017. A copy of the community meetings notice is available here: SB 535 and AB 1550 Community Meetings Notice | Additional Information

In April 2017, after incorporating public input, CalEPA released its list of disadvantaged communities for the purpose of SB 535. To inform its decision, CalEPA relied on the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool 3.0 (CalEnviroScreen), a tool that assesses all census tracts in California to identify the areas disproportionately burdened by and vulnerable to multiple sources of pollution.

California Climate Investments are administered by state and local agencies for a variety of greenhouse-gas cutting programs, including energy efficiency, public transit, low-carbon transportation and affordable housing. Guidelines written by ARB help these agencies develop programs that meet statutory requirements for reducing emissions while maximizing the benefits to disadvantaged communities.

SB 535 Identification of Disadvantaged Communities

SB 535 Interactive Maps (CalEnviroScreen 3.0)

SB 535 & AB 1550 Interactive Maps


SB 535 Interactive Maps (CalEnviroScreen 2.0)

CalEPA’s original designation of disadvantaged communities used CalEnviroScreen 2.0, the previous version of the environmental health screening tool. The following maps show disadvantaged communities under the original designation:

SB 535 Implementation Resources