Environmental Equity
West Oakland

Survival in a Health Desert In the West Oakland neighborhood where Margaret Gordon lives, otherwise peaceful views of the bay and the skyline are obscured by a mish-mash of concrete girders, beams, train tracks, and roadways. • 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 are now working 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 is part of the Charge Ahead California steering committee, which successfully worked to pass and now helps implement the Charge Ahead California Initiative (SB 1275), a law to put a million zero-emission cars, trucks and buses on California’s roads and ensure that all communities have access to clean vehicles. Our recent report, “Electric Carsharing in Underserved Communities: Considerations for Program Success,” has helped shape pilot programs to provide electric vehicle carsharing services to poor communities in order to increase mobility and drive adoption of electric cars.
  • Diverse Small Business: 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 that the clean energy sector may otherwise overlook. To achieve this, 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 business face in accessing public contracts.
  • The Neighborhood Scale Sustainability Program (NSSP) – NSSP is Greenlining’s proposal to bring efforts to cut greenhouse gases and promote health, sustainability and economic opportunities together at the neighborhood level .The idea is to take good ideas now being implemented on a piecemeal basis around California and bring them together in one location to show how we can turn a disadvantaged community into a vibrant, healthy neighborhood with much less pollution, more jobs and increased opportunities for all.Cities and community-based organizations have done great work creating climate action plans, but they need a variety of public and private resources to accelerate the pace at which these plans are implemented and leverage the momentum of local planning and state policies such as AB32 and SB535 to attract private capital. By putting resources together and planning thoughtfully, we can integrate good ideas to meet multiple goals: Cutting carbon emissions, cleaning the air, saving energy, improving transportation and creating good jobs and opportunities for local businesses.
  • UpLiftCA – UpLiftCA was created by The Greenlining Institute in partnership with the SB 535 Coalition, led by the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Coalition for Clean Air, The Greenlining Institute and Public Advocates. We are also indebted to the Natural Resources Defense Council for essential support and partnership. We work to ensure that California climate policies bring opportunities and investments to California’s underserved communities. The stories on UpLiftCA highlight the benefits of California clean energy policies.
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