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California Climate Justice

For over two decades, California has been setting climate goals and adopting wide-ranging climate policies. Our research is taking a deep dive into how the state integrates justice into climate governance, from comprehensive planning to clean energy funding. 

Two men installing solar panels

Learning from Experience

Adopting climate justice goals is one thing; how, when, and where they’re implemented is another. As one of the first states to adopt climate goals and the first to incorporate environmental justice principles, California has an implementation track record.  But relatively little is known about the internal agency decision-making dynamics that are instrumental to achieving — or failing to achieve — climate justice goals.  

Our research looks behind the scenes to identify best practices for integrating justice into climate planning and funding a clean energy future. Our analysis will unpack what drives agency decisions and the efficacy of the state’s public participation processes. Our insights can help move climate policy beyond piecemeal and fragmented programs to a more holistic and integrated vision for an equitable transition.

Project Goals:

  • Improve transparency of California climate justice decision-making processes
  • Strengthen California’s decision-making structures to support climate equity, clean energy, and a just transition
  • Inform other states’ efforts to develop effective climate justice decision-making structures
  • Provide guidance on equitable and effective mechanisms for implementing Justice40, especially in light of new federal infrastructure funding

Climate Justice Index

Navigating California’s climate legislation and programs is not for the faint of heart. We provide an array of diagrams, charts, and tables to explain and document California initiatives for community groups, advocates, policymakers, and researchers.

The fact sheets, diagrams, charts, and tables in this index map the state’s climate policy landscape to increase the transparency of — and access to — the state’s web of programs. We document the primary laws and executive orders that have shaped state climate planning and programs. To facilitate access to the state’s climate justice investments for communities and researchers, we depict funding processes and document a wide range of climate justice funding programs, including multi-sector programs, transportation funding, and funding for buildings and clean energy.

Climate Justice Index Resources

Comprehensive Statewide Climate Planning

To help understand the state’s “scoping plan” and its updates, the state’s comprehensive plans for meeting its ambitious emission reduction targets, we lay out the legislation and executive orders that have structured and influenced the plans. Through detailed diagrams, we also depict the overall plan development process and opportunities for public participation.

State Agencies

Numerous state agencies play key roles in California’s climate programs and share responsibility for achieving climate justice.  We provide a schematic overview of relevant state agencies and then provide more detailed diagrams of specific sets of agencies.

Funding Processes and Programs

Graphics depict the most significant sources of funding and associated recipients, the state budget process, and agency budget planning processes. We diagram the typical operation of competitive grant programs and then, through a series of tables, identify funding programs for clean transportation, buildings, clean energy, and workforce training, providing information on programs that serve individual households and communities. 

Research Topics

LA skyline at sunset, palm trees in foreground

Climate Action Planning

We are assessing the effectiveness of California’s integration of justice into its economy-wide comprehensive climate change planning documents – its “scoping plans”—considering the role of statutory directives, agency planning processes, and the role of the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and community participation.

A family exiting their electric vehicle

Funding Mechanisms

A second research project is an inquiry into the crucial dynamics of state funding program mechanisms. We are analyzing how state agencies determine funding priorities, the way they allocate funds, and the equity and efficacy of grant program structures.

California agency meeting

Cross-Agency Coordination

Given the multi-sector nature of the clean energy transition, we are assessing how authority for climate-related programs is distributed across the complex network of state, regional, and local entities, including agencies responsible for clean energy, economy, environmental quality, transportation, housing, and land use.

Our latest commentaries on California policy

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Our California Climate Justice Team

Alice Kaswan

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Image of Catalina Gonzalez

Catalina Gonzalez

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Want to get in touch with us?

Contact our project leads with questions, concerns, or ideas.

Professor Alice Kaswan is a nationally-recognized scholar on climate and environmental justice and currently teaches at the University of San Francisco School of Law. 

She may be reached at

Catalina Gonzalez has experience working with community-based organizations and disadvantaged communities on advocacy, community engagement, and capacity-building. 

She may be reached at