Environmental Equity
Esther Robert

Affordable housing cleans the air Cleaning the air and ensuring families have a roof over the head can happen at the same time. Let a mother from Sacramento tell you how. • Read the full story

Our Vision

Everyone deserves a clean and healthy environment. We are creating a world in which all
communities have clean air and water, where one’s life expectancy is not determined by zip code, race or income. Communities of color need access to economic opportunities from the growing green economy, which represents an opportunity to bring good paying jobs and capital to communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.

The Challenge

While climate change and pollution hurt us all, communities of color suffer first and worst.
Existing climate change policies and programs have not adequately addressed
these disparities. Communities of color often lack access to green programs, resources, and
opportunities. Investments in green technologies can both improve the environment and provide pathways out of poverty, but frequently have failed to reach the communities most in need.
Despite a massive U.S. drought, many stakeholders still believe climate change is
made up. Often only the wealthy get to benefit from climate change programs although all utility customers subsidize climate change efforts.

Clean Air Equals Kids Stay in School
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Our Response

Greenlining develops policies to improve public health and environmental quality
for low-income communities and communities of color while bringing “green” dollars to
these communities. We help communities be resilient so they can thrive in the face of climate change. Our current projects include:

  • Investing in Disadvantaged Communities – We are ensuring that revenues from California’s cap-and-trade program:
    • help communities of color adapt to climate change
    • create economic opportunities
    • protect small businesses
    • are returned to ratepayers on their energy bills
    Greenlining sponsored and helped pass critical legislation, SB 535, that is helping to achieve many of these goals. We then worked to pass new legislation, AB 1550, to improve and expand this important program.
  • Electric Cars and Trucks: Charging Ahead – We were among the first to highlight the obstacles to widespread use of electric cars and trucks in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods in our landmark report, “Electric Vehicles: Who’s Left Stranded?” Today, Greenlining  serves on the steering committee of the Charge Ahead California Campaign, which successfully worked to pass and now helps implement the Charge Ahead California Initiative (SB 1275, De León), a law to put a million electric cars, trucks and buses on California’s roads and ensure that low-income communities of color have access to clean vehicles.

    We have helped spur creation of at least 1,625 electric car and truck charging stations in disadvantaged and low-income California communities, and continue to advocate for equitable charging station investments.

  • Creating an Inclusive Clean Energy Economy – We work to build a diverse, inclusive clean energy economy in California by encouraging transparency in business contracting and leveling the playing field for diverse businesses. Greenlining sponsored the EmPower California Act (AB 865), which will require the California Energy Commission (CEC) and recipients of CEC funds to take steps to boost procurement from women-, minority-, disabled veteran- and LGBTQ-owned businesses. Greenlining also convened ethnic business chambers and associations throughout the state to share information about new contracting opportunities from California’s environmental policies and to hear about challenges ethnic businesses face in accessing public contracts. In addition, Greenlining helps manage CalSEED, a funding and professional development program for innovators in the clean energy sector. Greenlining aims to bring diverse applicants into the program, and promote equity-led clean energy solutions.
  • Transformative Climate Communities —  Cities and community-based organizations have done great work creating community-led action plans to address pollution and climate change, but often lack the resources to implement these plans quickly and effectively.  So Greenlining sponsored and helped pass AB 2722, a program to fund the development and implementation of neighborhood-level transformative climate community plans. These efforts “connect the dots” between multiple, coordinated greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects in disadvantaged communities to meet multiple goals: Cutting carbon emissions, cleaning the air, saving energy, improving transportation and creating good jobs and opportunities for local businesses.
  • UpLiftCA – Something amazing is happening in California. California is fighting air pollution and bringing clean energy to all, and your community is part of it. We created UpLiftCA to share the stories of how real people are benefiting from our clean energy economy and provide a tool to help you learn more about how California’s climate investments can help you.
  • Mobility Equity Framework – For too long, transportation planning has focused on cars rather than people while neglecting communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. This framework is a step-by-step guide to putting the mobility needs of communities at the center of transportation planning and decision-making. With the multitude of new mobility services available today, this tool also provides equity indicators to assess and compare how various mobility options impact on low-income communities of color.
  • Making Equity Real in Mobility Pilots Toolkit Low-income people of color often face financial, technological, physical, or cultural, barriers to accessing shared mobility services (i.e. bikeshare, scooter share, Uber, carshare, etc.). When mobility projects are not implemented with equity, they reinforce the inequalities baked into our systems and can often deepen those inequalities. Increasingly, equity is becoming mainstream in mobility. Yet this could turn into an empty promise without a clear strategy and understanding of how to put equity into action to achieve that promise. Equity is not just a commitment – it is a practice. These resources and tools are intended to guide government agencies, companies, and other entities in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of equitable mobility projects. In other words, this packet will guide you on how to operationalize equity in four key steps.
  • Autonomous Vehicles — The rapid development of self-driving, autonomous vehicle technology is leading the way to a transportation revolution with three major components: self-driving cars, shared mobility, and electrification. While much has been written about how the coming autonomous vehicle revolution may change transportation for the better, this report represents the first in-depth analysis of a wide range of mobility, health, and economic implications of these three interconnected revolutions for marginalized groups like people of color, the poor, the elderly, and those with disabilities. Read our full report here.
  • Climate ResiliencyClimate change impacts hit low-income communities of color the hardest, and these communities often have the fewest resources to cope with these effects. Climate resilience focuses on how our communities prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change, like drought, sea level rise, extreme heat and wildfire.  In 2016, Greenlining joined the Climate Justice Working Group to ensure that Safeguarding California, the state’s comprehensive climate adaptation strategy, protects the most vulnerable communities from climate change impacts. The CJWG also developed equitable policy and funding recommendations for California leaders to consider as they develop climate adaptation policies.  
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