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 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  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 SB 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 – 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.
  • Mobility Equity Framework – Greenlining is working to develop an equitable decision-making framework for local, county, regional, and state transportation planning and investments that will meet the specific mobility needs of low-income communities of color. This decision-making framework seeks to meet communities’ mobility needs in a way that increases access to clean mobility options, reduces air pollution, and enhances economic opportunity.
  • Climate ResiliencyClimate resiliency focuses on how our communities prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change, like drought, sea level rise, extreme heat conditions and wildfire. Climate change impacts hit low-income communities of color the hardest, and these communities often have the fewest resources to cope with these effects. In 2016, Greenlining joined the Climate Justice Working Group to assess equity in the Safeguarding California Plan, the state’s climate adaptation strategy. The CJWG provided feedback to make sure California prioritizes health, environmental, and economic equity in vulnerable communities.
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