Everyone deserves a clean and healthy environment. All communities must have clean air and water, and one’s life expectancy should never be determined by zip code, race or income. Building a clean energy economy can open a vast array of new economic opportunities, bringing good paying jobs and investment to communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. For this to happen, equity must be at the core of efforts to fight climate change, poverty and pollution.
Climate change has already begun devastating communities in California and throughout the world. Though climate change and pollution hurt us all, communities of color suffer first and worst, while climate change policies have not adequately addressed these disparities. Too often the experience and expertise of communities of color get disregarded as approaches to climate change are formulated, leaving our communities with inadequate access to green programs, resources, and opportunities. Clean energy investments can both improve the environment and provide pathways out of poverty, but too often they don’t reach those most in need. We must do better.
Greenlining’s Environmental Equity team has led the drafting and passage of crucial laws to improve health and environmental quality for low-income communities and communities of color and bring green dollars to these communities. We work every day to make sure these policies get implemented effectively. Our current projects include:
- Investing in Disadvantaged Communities: California’s climate policies generate billions of dollars in revenues that can help fight climate change, cut pollution and jump-start economic opportunity in low-income communities of color. Greenlining sponsored and helped pass critical legislation, SB 535 and AB 1550, guaranteeing that a major portion of these funds go to the communities that need them most. We created UpLiftCA.org to tell the stories of how the clean energy economy benefits real Californians. The UpLiftCA Resource Finder helps people and community groups learn how to get help to access clean energy, improve their communities and save on their energy bills.
- 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. Greenlining sponsored and helped pass AB 2722, which funds communities to develop and implement neighborhood-level transformative climate plans. These community-led efforts “connect the dots” between multiple projects in disadvantaged communities that cut carbon emissions, clean the air, save energy, improve transportation and create good jobs and opportunities for local businesses.
- Clean Transportation and Mobility: Access to clean, affordable transportation options is not only key to combating climate change, it is critical to lifting low-income communities out of poverty. Our comprehensive approach to mobility aims to move more people, not just cars. Our team has mounted a variety of initiatives and tools to promote equitable, pollution-free mobility:
- Electric Cars and Trucks: Charging Ahead: Greenlining was among the first to highlight obstacles to widespread use of electric cars and trucks in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, and helped pass and continue to help implement legislation to put a million electric cars, trucks and buses on California’s roads and to ensure access to clean vehicles for our communities. Through a series of landmark reports, we have helped build momentum for ensuring that electric vehicles are accessible to all by expanding electric carsharing, trucks, buses, and charging stations in underserved communities. These reports can be found on the Transportation and Mobility webpage.
- Mobility Equity: New mobility technologies and services continue to roll out with increasing speed, but low-income communities of color may be left out. State and local planning, policy, and decision-making structures often are ill equipped to equitably deliver these mobility benefits to our communities. Greenlining has developed a customizable framework to assess and compare various mobility options by their equity outcomes -- in a way that centers the needs and voices of marginalized communities. This framework has also been adapted into an additional report and toolkit designed to maximize the equity outcomes of self-driving cars and mobility pilot projects, all of which can all be found on the Clean Transportation and Mobility page. We work with local, regional, and state governments to utilize our mobility equity tools to develop equitable policies and programs..
- 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. We have also begun to focus on how to create new, more accessible, democratic and equitable funding sources to finance the transition to a clean energy economy in a way that can truly transform our communities – studying the shortcomings in current processes and then shaping new funding sources and approaches to community development that center on equity, democracy, and accessibility. Greenlining sponsored the EmPower California Act (AB 865), which will require the California Energy Commission and recipients of CEC funds to take steps to boost procurement from women-, minority-, disabled veteran- and LGBTQ-owned businesses. Our Environmental Equity team also 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.
- Climate Resilience: Climate change’s 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.