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Let’s secure equitable access to resilient clean energy

The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit will address equitable approaches to clean energy resilience programs.  August 5, 2020, 9 AM – 12 PM.


As awareness of systemic poverty and racism grows, government policies and programs beyond police force budgets and protocols are also getting attention. The media is shining light on toxic oil and gas infrastructure – from freeways to oil refineries – that are often sited in lower-income communities, close to homes, schools, and hospitals and polluted air that leads to significantly lower life expectancy and higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other diseases

In California, programs designed to promote clean energy are more likely to benefit the rich than the poor who need them most. With the approaching power shut-offs that California is expecting this fire season, this inequity will continue to grow. While all communities are disrupted and suffer from power outages, lower-income households are likely to suffer most. This is because they have fewer resources to rely on in the event of an emergency, and less ability to absorb financial losses from outages. While wealthier Californians may buy back-up batteries or generators, less affluent residents can’t afford them. These same residents often suffer higher rates of respiratory illness due to pollution and are especially vulnerable when fossil backup generators are widely used during a power shut-off. And food security is an especially acute problem for low-income households that rely on school meal programs that are not accessible during power shut-offs because of the lack of refrigeration. 

A number of studies have highlighted inequities created by clean energy incentive programs. Perhaps the most striking findings come from Eric Fournier at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, with a report showing how inequities in incentives for things like rooftop solar and electric vehicles place a larger burden of cost on the least affluent, and reward wealthier people. This is especially unfortunate given that lower-income communities are using less energy than wealthier communities and are less responsible for climate change.

While there’s a lot of work yet to be done, over the past decade Environmental Justice advocates have had remarkable successes in crafting new state policies and programs to provide more equity for lower-income communities. This trend and more will be discussed at The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit on August 5th. Panelists will outline how we can meet the challenges of enhancing clean energy resilience while avoiding exacerbating inequalities that these incentive programs often create.

The Summit will feature an opening keynote address by Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem of Oxnard, followed by a panel providing an overview of what the state is doing now for clean energy resilience featuring Janea Scott, Vice-Chair of the California Energy Commission; Genevieve Shiroma, Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission; Eric Lamoureaux from the California Office of Emergency Services, and California Senator Henry Stern. 

A subsequent panel will provide a labor perspective, including Mark Kyle, former Chief of Staff of the California Federal of Labor, Jennifer Kropke, Director of Environmental and Workforce Engagement, IBEW, Local Union 11 & National Electrical Contractors Association Los Angeles County; and Vivian Price, researcher for the Labor Network for Sustainability and CSU Dominguez Hills Professor specializing in labor and climate change.

An Environmental Justice panel will be moderated by Janina Turner, a lead organizer in Sonoma County’s Sunrise Movement. Panelists include Mari Rose Taruc, movement organizer for environmental justice & climate solutions at Reclaim Our Power; Gabriela Orantes, a Just Recovery Fellow at the North Bay Organizing Project; and Nayamin Martinez, Executive Director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network.

The final panel, highlighting energy resilience programs of Community Choice agencies, will be moderated by Carolyn Glanton, Programs Manager at Sonoma Clean Power. Panelists include Sage Lang, Energy Program Coordinator/Analyst for Central Coast Community Energy; Stephanie Chen, Senior Policy Counsel at MCE; and JP Ross, Senior Director of Local Development, Electrification and Innovation for East Bay Community Energy. 

As California turns its attention to building energy resilience in the face of more power outages, policymakers must prioritize clean energy resilience in California’s lower-income communities. This will ensure that the Californians who are the least responsible for climate change are not suffering its worst consequences.

Register for the August 5th policy summit HERE.

Fracking rig operates next to a walking and bike way for residents of Signal Hill drilling into the Los Angeles Oil Field. Photo by Sarah Craig.

The rise of leaky wells and taxpayer liabilities

A rapidly growing movement is underway in California to call out Governor Gavin Newsom for ramping up approval of fracking and drilling permits. This comes at a time when the effects of fossil fuel pollution on public health is of grave concern and many oil and gas companies may abandon leaky wells because of bankruptcy with falling demand for their products.

Over the July 4th holiday weekend Newsom’s oil and gas regulatory agency approved 12 new permits for Chevron to conduct fracking in the Lost Hills Oil Field in Kern County. Newsom has now granted a total of 48 fracking permits since ending his initial moratorium on the practice.

Newsom has also approved drilling permits for more than 1,400 new oil and gas wells so far this year. According to a California Council on Science and Technology report, it would cost more than $9.2 billion to properly plug California’s existing oil and gas wells, and operators have not set aside nearly enough money to pay for this legally required cleanup. Lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by exposure to pollution through proximity to these wells, making this a climate justice issue.

The federal government estimates that there are already more than three million abandoned oil and gas wells across the United States. Two million of those are unplugged, releasing the methane equivalent of the annual emissions from more than 1.5 million cars. 

As oil and gas companies face bankruptcy, many fear that wells will be left leaking pollution, with cleanup costs left to taxpayers. At the same time, some of the top executives at these companies are granting themselves multi-million dollar bonuses just days before declaring bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, cities across the state see a way out of reliance on natural gas. The City of Berkeley banned new natural gas hookups in 2019, and now 30 California cities have policies that ban gas or at least encourage all-electric construction in some way. 

San Francisco officials recently said that they are introducing legislation that would be similar to Berkeley’s ban, and Pacific Gas & Electric has also said it would support the growing push for state rules that require new buildings to be all-electric.

Clearly California communities are moving away from natural gas. So, why is Newsom increasing extraction permits and with it, taxpayer liability for leaky wells?

Tell Governor Newsom to put public health first, not oil and gas interests

Protesters march against oil pipeline in solidarity with Native People at Standing Rock in 2016 rally by John Duffy

Unequal impact: The deep links between racism and climate change

by Beth Gardiner, Yale Environment 360


Highlights

Elizabeth Yeampierre, co-chair of Climate Justice Alliance, shares the correlation between the United States’ racist past and the current climate crisis

  • Climate movements typically center around conversation and protecting wildlife while not advocating for the protection of Black and Brown people who are directly impacted by climate change and environmental racism
  • Climate change stems all the way back to colonial times, where indigenous lands were exploited and used for extraction of natural resources in the name of capitalism
  • The treatment of Black and Indigenous people present-day can be compared to the early days of America, where enslaved people were given poor housing and food
  • The communities impacted by COVID are the same ones experiencing pollution, and they will continue to feel the worst effects of the climate crisis
  • Policies, such as the Green New Deal, must include frontline leaders and frontline communities in order to better serve all people
  • A just transition of labor must look at the process and impacts of achieving sustainability to ensure that frontline communities are not experiencing more pollution in pursuit of sustainability

The Climate Center’s urgent climate policy goals will only be achieved if we also close the climate gap and ensure that communities of color are no longer disproportionately harmed. There cannot be climate justice without racial justice.


Read more: https://e360.yale.edu/features/unequal-impact-the-deep-links-between-inequality-and-climate-change?ct=t(RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN

BlackLivesMatter_protest_Berlin_2020-05-30_22

The climate justice movement must oppose white supremacy everywhere

by Mattias Lehman, Medium


Highlights

Mattias Lehman of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate movement working for the end to the climate crisis, shares how environmental groups need to focus more on racial inequality.

  • The climate movement is typically focused on nature-based initiatives such as “Save the Trees” and “Save the Polar Bears,” but rarely provides emphasis on saving the Black and Brown communities that have been experiencing environmental racism throughout history
  • The climate crisis is a major contributing factor to the migration of peoples to other countries. Many are seeking refuge from drought and famine
  • Environmental groups must speak out on injustices within the immigrant communities because immigrants are directly impacted by climate effects. To be silent is to be complicit with the racism that keeps these communities on the frontlines, in detention centers, and held in cages
  • Supporting and working towards defunding, reforming, and abolishing structures in this country built on principles of systemic racism is an important step for building a just, green, and equitable future

The Climate Center’s urgent climate policy goals will only be achieved if we also close the climate gap and ensure that communities of color are no longer disproportionately harmed. There cannot be climate justice without racial justice.


Read more: https://medium.com/sunrisemvmt/the-climate-justice-movement-must-oppose-white-supremacy-everywhere-by-supporting-m4bl-4e338cf91b19

Seattle Black Lives Matter protest by Kelly Kline

The Climate Center Stands Against Racism, Police Violence and Environmental Injustice

The Climate Center stands in solidarity with communities of color and with the protesters in the streets. We join them in demanding an end to institutional racism, police violence, white supremacy, and the environmental injustices that many Black, Brown, Asian and Indigenous communities experience daily.

Shared responsibility and equitable, inclusive solutions are fundamental values we strive to embody in our efforts to realize speed and scale greenhouse gas reductions.

Our urgent climate policy goals will only be achieved if we also close the climate gap and ensure that communities of color are no longer disproportionately harmed. There cannot be climate justice without racial justice. Read more here.

Black Lives Matter protest in Oakland. Photo by Daniel Arauz

Climate Justice is Racial Justice

The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others at the hands of police, are abhorrent and intolerable. Institutional racism, intentionally interwoven into the American fabric since long before our nation’s founding, has locked in major inequalities for people of color in wealth, income, education, health, jobs, housing, and public safety.

Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are more likely to be killed by police than white people, with virtually no officers charged, let alone convicted.

Toxic oil and gas infrastructure – from freeways to oil rigs–are often sited in communities of color, dangerously close to homes, schools, and hospitals due to historic redlining and redevelopment. Constantly in the pall of polluted air, they suffer from significantly lower life expectancy and higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other diseases than white people and those in wealthier neighborhoods.

And these same communities of color are being hit much harder by the dual pandemics of COVID19 and climate.

There cannot be climate justice without racial justice.

Shared responsibility and equitable, inclusive solutions are fundamental values we at The Climate Center strive to realize in our efforts to achieve speed and scale greenhouse gas reductions. We stand in solidarity with communities of color. We stand in solidarity with the protesters in the streets.

The climate movement cannot remain silent any longer. To achieve our urgent climate policy goals, we must close the climate gap to ensure communities of color are no longer disproportionately harmed. We must end police violence, white supremacy, and the environmental injustices that many Black, Brown, Asian and Indigenous communities experience daily.

Take action today. Learn about systemic racism, talk about it, speak out against it, practice anti-racism, and demand racial justice. Together we can ensure a just transition to a clean, green, and equitable future.

Following are a handful of the many resources available online: Systemic Racism Explained (short video), 5 Ways to Show Up for Racial Justice Today, Activism & Allyship Guide, 15 Things Your City Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality, Anti-Racism Resources for White People, and 8 Ways Environmental Organizations Can Support the Movement for Environmental Justice.

The Climate Movement’s silence on racism

by Emily Atkin, Heated


Highlights

As protests and demonstrations occur throughout the world in response to the murder of George Floyd, some environmental groups have responded in solitary while many other activists and groups have remained silent.  

  • Groups such as the Sierra Club and white climate activists like Greta Thunberg have all spoken out in solidarity. However, other activists like Al Gore or groups such as Citizens Climate Lobby have remained silent on the issue.
  • Liz Havstad, the executive director of Hip Hop Caucus, says it doesn’t make sense for climate groups not to stand in solidarity:

“The burden of the issues that you’re working on are falling harder on all people color, and particularly Black people…Unless you’re willing to solve the roots of that disproportionate impact, you’re not solving anything at all.”

  • The lack of support for the black community plays a role in why black people are underrepresented in mainstream environmental groups, are less likely to participate in outdoor recreation, and are less likely to label themselves as environmentalists
  • Various environmental groups do not see racial inequality as an intersectional movement and have been reluctant to address racism within the climate movement

The impacts of climate change are hitting harder and faster than expected, posing grave threats to human health and well-being. Lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by exposure to pollution from our fossil fuel economy. Climate Justice involves a climate safe future for all people from all backgrounds and neighborhoods.


Read More: https://heated.world/p/the-climate-movements-silence

Soccer and oil from Stand.LA by KPCC AirTalk

A clean, green, and just economic recovery

Take action today for a clean, green, and just economic recovery in California.

On April 28, The Climate Center and many of its partners sent a letter to the California legislature asking them to use federal stimulus funds to support proven programs that improve health and resilience, and create jobs for a climate-safe future.

We asked that they secure ongoing revenue streams to increase the impact and longevity of those dollars. And we recommended using bonds to help power California’s recovery.

Despite the terrible toll, COVID-19 is presenting a unique opportunity to transform our economy into a healthy, equitable, and resilient one. The California legislature can funnel stimulus dollars to reverse some of the damage already done by the pandemic, including 100,000 clean energy jobs lost in March alone.

Crucial investments we need now include accelerating the equitable phase-out of fossil fuel development, production, and use by replacing it with clean energy, increasing sequestration through healthy soils initiatives on agricultural and working lands, and investing in community resilience measures including community energy resilience to help us weather unavoidable climate impacts.

These investments create a pathway to a resilient economic recovery for California with a secure transition for everyone.

While the world appears to be at a standstill, emissions are still rising and the climate crisis means that we will likely face multiple disasters at the same time going forward.

The impacts of climate change will far outweigh those of COVID-19 and could abruptly collapse whole ecosystems, starting with tropical oceans in the next ten years. While the economic impacts from the pandemic are significant, extreme weather events alone are predicted to cost around $8 trillion globally per year by 2050 with untold direct and indirect human health impacts.

We have the chance right now to address the COVID-19 health crisis, the climate crisis, and the economic crisis by supporting a bold suite of policies to transition us to a vibrant, healthy, and climate-safe future for all.

Let’s ensure a clean, green, and just economic recovery. Take action today here. Together we can do it!

Endorse our Climate-Safe California campaign and support The Climate Center’s bold efforts today!

Kids want Climate Justice

Kids’ climate lawsuit thrown out by appeals court

by David Hasemyer and Nicholas Kusnetz, InsideClimate News, January 17, 2020


Highlights:

  • A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of young people that had sought to compel the federal government to rein in the nation’s climate emissions
  • The Juliana case was thrown out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because it is “beyond their constitutional power”– the court concluded that only elected branches of government could take the necessary actions to address the plaintiff’s claims
  • The plaintiffs had presented compelling evidence that a rapid buildup of carbon dioxide, driven by the combustion of fossil fuels, was sending global temperatures ever higher, melting polar ice caps, and threatening devastating sea-level rise within the century
  • In dismissing the suit, the court noted that the plaintiffs had succeeded in making a strong case that the government had for decades not only failed to act to limit emissions but had actively promoted fossil fuel development.

The case highlights the importance of a solid Theory of Change for the climate movement to execute rapid decarbonization.


Read more: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/17012020/children-climate-change-lawsuit-appeals-court-fossil-fuel