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.
  • Energy Efficiency – We work to make sure a fair share of the California Public Utilities Commission’s $1 billion annual investment in energy efficiency dollars is used for effective programs that provide access to pathways out of poverty, career-path jobs and real energy savings for our communities, through programs like the Energy Savings Assistance Program. We helped develop on-bill financing programs that help families — including low- and moderate-income families — to access energy efficiency programs.
  • 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 Charge Ahead California, a campaign to accelerate transformation of our state’s vehicle fleet, put a million zero-emission cars, trucks and buses on California’s roads and ensure that all communities have access to clean vehicles.


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