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California Grants Nearly $25 Million For Climate Change Research Projects

In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 109, creating a research program within California’s Strategic Growth Council (SGC). AB 109 also allocated $11 million to the SGC in Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund revenues received from California’s Cap-and-Trade program. The funds were allocated to “fund research on reducing carbon emissions, including clean energy, adaptation, and resiliency, with an emphasis on California.” The research program is known as the Climate Change Research Program.

In 2018, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 856 which appropriated $18 million for “Round 2” of the Climate Change Research Program. In December 2018, the SGC awarded grants from this Round 2 funding. Below is a summary of the Climate Change Research Program and the four grants awarded in December 2018.


The Climate Change Research Program

The Climate Change Research Program’s goals are to:


  • Invest in research that has a clear and demonstrated connection to the State’s climate change goals. Investments should demonstrate potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, should show potential to be easily replicated and scaled, and should support climate adaptation and resilience.


  • Advance research to support low-income and disadvantaged communities, and advance equitable outcomes in the implementation of the State’s climate change policies and investments. Research Institutions should ensure that innovative technologies have direct and indirect benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities.


  • Build a program that augments, builds connections, and fills gaps across existing research programs. Research Institutions’ project portfolios should provide holistic approaches towards addressing one of the identified research innovation fields.


  • Prioritize outcome-based research linked to practical climate action.


  • Model meaningful engagement with the research community, private sector, community-based organizations, public agencies, and other stakeholders at all stages of the program to ensure relevance and utility of R&D process, projects, and results.


  • Continue to advance and develop a common research platform to support climate change planning, policy development, and implementation across all sectors at the state, regional, and community scale.


  • Leverage and complement existing research funding and policy innovations to accelerate climate change research, innovation, and policy and technology deployment.


December 2018 Climate Change Research Program Grants

In July 2018, the Climate Change Research Program awarded grants totaling close to $7 million addressing four out of five priorities outlined in the Climate Change Research Program’s Research Investment Plan. Four additional grants were awarded in December 2018 focusing on the fifth priority – Low-GHG Transformative Technology Development and Deployment, covering three research innovation fields: carbon dioxide removal, methane reduction and heating, cooling, and thermal storage.

The four grants are summarized below.



The California Collaborative on Climate Change Solutions: Working Lands Innovation Center—Catalyzing Negative Carbon Emissions [to the University of California-$4,711,267.24]

The Working Lands Innovation Center’s objective is to scale and sustain CO2 capture and GHG emissions reductions by deploying a suite of cutting-edge soil amendment technologies, driving substantial co-benefits for California growers, ranchers, Tribes, communities, the economy, and environment. This project will increase understanding of the mechanisms and potential for carbon sequestration in soil.



The Innovative Low-GHG Residential Space Conditioning Technologies [to Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.-$4,744,353.28]

This proposal aims to advance innovative space cooling technologies to benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities in California, by working to demonstrate and commercialize cooling technologies as well as by evaluating user behavior to better understand needs and technology use in homes. To accelerate adoption of these energy-saving household technologies, the project will also establish innovative payment and financing solutions.



Mobile Biochar Production for Methane Emission Reduction and Soil Amendment [to the University of California, Merced-$3,040,239.47

The overall goal of this proposal is to determine how biochar can be produced and used in a closed cycle agricultural application to reduce GHG emissions, ameliorate agricultural waste disposal problems, improve the quality of life in low-income and disadvantaged farming and adjacent communities, and identify means to gain acceptance among farmers of small-scale biochar production and use as a sustainable best practice for California agriculture.



Innovation Center for Advancing Ecosystem Climate Solutions [to the University of California, Irvine-$4,604,140.02]

This Innovation Center will develop the science and technology solutions needed to manage California’s natural lands for climate change, as there remain critical research gaps in understanding how to implement adaptive management and maintain carbon sequestration under climate change. The proposal will help the state implement its policy goals, including objectives under the Scoping and Forest Carbon Plans.


Conclusion and Implications

Close to $25 million has been awarded from California’s Climate Change Research Program since its inception in 2017. It is hoped that the information gained from these research projects will advance California’s overall GHG emissions reduction goals.

(Kathryn Casey)