Equity is the Path to Climate Action

Equity is the Path to Climate Action

The Golden State’s climate is changing at a faster rate than scientists expected. In the past year California has experienced: catastrophic wildfires, extreme heat and a multiyear dry spell – just two years after the most extreme recorded drought to date. While the state has often led the effort to combat climate change in the past, more must be done.

At the recent California Climate Policy Summit, an emphasis was placed on the importance of bringing equality to climate change efforts as much of the pollutant problems are concentrated in low-income communities and communities of color.

Back in 2006, when California’s market-based climate policy was passed, it was widely praised as the most ambitious in the nation. Environmental justice groups, such as California Greenworks, did not jump on the bandwagon; we know allowing polluters to buy the right to pollute would further concentrate fossil fuel pollution in low-income communities and communities of color.

Experts in tracking unequal exposures to environmental pollution reported that neighborhoods with higher proportions of poor people of color were most likely to see increases in emissions of greenhouse gasses and related pollutants from nearby facilities, even as emissions dropped statewide, according to a 2018 study. A follow up study reveals that these disparities continue.

What does climate inequity look like? One example cited in this article on the climate justice summit suggests it looks like a family of four living in a mobile home without air conditioning, struggling through Southern California’s common temperatures ranging over 120 degrees, and sleeping in their car, engine on, to run the air conditioner for relief.

“Equity is not a distraction,” said Mijin Cha, a climate justice researcher at Occidental College in Los Angeles, at the California Climate Policy Summit. “It is a path through which we achieve ambitious climate action.”

At California Greenworks, we know all too well that by having a market for pollution, as a state we are essentially encouraging companies to pollute. Our programs were created to combat this inequality in the race to combat climate change. 

Our mission is to improve the quality of life in urban communities through environmental education and implementation of sustainable community-based restoration and neighborhood revitalization projects and programs that promote green space, eliminate urban blight and advocate for green jobs creation and economic development.

California Greenworks strives to improve the quality of life in the urban communities across South Los Angeles. Our motto “Greening Communities one Neighborhood at a Time” reflects our efforts to help grow environmental outreach and educational programs that improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.