Five UC Berkeley-Led Projects Awarded California Climate Action Grants

August 23, 2023
By: Kara Manke, Public Affairs
An aerial photo of Shasta Lake. The water level is low and the "bathtub ring" left by higher water levels is clearly visible.
Shasta Lake photographed on Oct. 28, 2021, when storage was at 22 percent of total capacity. The largest of the Climate Action Matching Grants will fund a project dedicated to broadening community involvement in the management of California’s water resources, which will be led by UC Berkeley's Ted Grantham.
Andrew Innerarity/California Department of Water Resources

Five UC Berkeley-led projects will receive a total of $13.9 million in grants to advance research that builds climate resilience and equity in California, including mitigating wildfire risk, ensuring the equitable distribution of water and improving K-12 climate justice education, the University of California (UC) announced today.

The grants are part of an $80 million investment by the UC and the state of California to spur the implementation of solutions that directly address the state’s climate priorities. The five Berkeley-led projects are among 38 research projects that have been selected to receive California Climate Action Seed Grants or Matching Grants across the UC and California State University system.

“With these investments, California is harnessing the ingenuity of our world-renowned universities and people to deliver climate action across our state,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a UC press release. “California is leading the charge in tapping our natural resources to protect our people, our communities, and our planet.”

The largest of the Climate Action Matching Grants, a nearly $8.2 million investment, will fund Berkeley-led work dedicated to broadening community involvement in the management of California’s water resources. Spearheaded by Ted Grantham, an associate professor of cooperative extension in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at Berkeley, the COEQWAL (COllaboratory for EQuity in Water ALlocations) project will develop new water planning tools to advance sustainable, inclusive and equitable water distribution for the state’s nearly 40 million people.

“Most Californians have little idea where their water comes from and how vulnerable their water supplies are to climate change,” Grantham said. “Our project aims to deliver actionable information about the way water moves through the state and what it means for farms, cities, small communities and ecosystems. We are particularly interested in engaging communities who are highly vulnerable to water shortages but have not had a seat at the decision-making table.”

Berkeley researchers will also serve as principal investigators (PIs) on four projects that have been selected for Climate Action Seed Grants, including:

  • Miranda Redmond, assistant professor in forest science and climate change. Redmond will be awarded nearly $2 million to lead a project that aims to improve the resilience of California’s dryland forests and expand Indigenous forest stewardship in the eastern Sierra Nevada.
  • Daniel Kammen, a professor in Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, who will receive $1.4 million to lead a project that will build tools to help California cities and counties — particularly those with limited resources — create climate action plans and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Helen Fitzmaurice, a postdoctoral scholar in the Berkeley School of Education. Fitzmaurice will be granted nearly $1.4 million to develop a toolkit to help K-12 teachers educate students about climate change and create opportunities for young people to take action toward climate justice within their own communities.
  • Peter Nelson, assistant professor of environmental science, policy, and management and of ethnic studies, recipient of nearly $1 million to work with tribal entities to expand the use of prescribed and cultural fire and increase tribal leadership in fire stewardship programs.

“These projects highlight Berkeley's commitment to climate justice and equity across multiple sectors,” said David Ackerly, dean of Berkely’s Rausser College of Natural Resources. “We're excited to be partnering with the state of California to produce actionable research that can help address the state’s climate needs.”

Four additional projects selected for Climate Action Seed Grants have Berkeley researchers as co-PIs. These researchers include Kevin Cuff, director of the East Bay Academy for Young Scientists at the Lawrence Hall of Science; Scott Moura, the Clare and Hsieh Wen Shen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Duncan Callaway, an associate professor in the Energy and Resources Group; and Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute at Berkeley Law.

full list of funded awardees and abstracts is available on the UC Climate Action website.