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Climate change grant programs can provide multiple benefits, including improved air quality, lower electricity costs, improved health outcomes, and green job opportunities. However, these benefits often fail to reach low-income communities of color—even though these communities tend to live in the most polluted neighborhoods and stand to greatly benefit from the improved environmental and economic conditions that clean energy resources can provide. Climate change grant programs represent one way to level the playing field and make clean energy benefits reach all communities, but they must be designed intentionally with equity. Grant programs must clearly define their social equity goals and develop evaluation criteria to track success. The analysis should indicate the strengths and areas for improvement in meeting equity goals and should be used to inform the direction of the program moving forward. Programs must plan proactively to collect the data needed to evaluate their success or shortcomings in meeting social equity goals.
Property managers often struggle to get technically sound energy efficiency and renewable energy projects approved for financial reasons. Sometimes the split incentive embedded in leases makes projects uneconomic for the building owner. Other times, property managers simply cannot get internal capital allocated to clean energy efficiency projects or cannot gain approval for the use of external financing. For commercial real estate property owners, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing can remove the typical barriers to the implementation of energy efficiency improvements.
This report examines the state of technology for electric trucks and buses, their life cycle emissions, and job opportunities presented by an expanding market for electric heavy-duty vehicles. While clean air and climate policies across the country have sparked sales of passenger electric vehicles, deployment of similar technologies for heavy-duty trucks and buses has been slower. California is shifting this balance, with policies and investments to bring electric trucks and buses to market. With recent innovation, these vehicles can meet the requirements of many demanding applications. And with the right job-training and equitable hiring policies and programs, California’s emerging electric truck and bus sector can provide opportunities to increase employment in underserved communities. Pollutants from heavy-duty vehicles pose health risks at all stages of life, from premature births to premature deaths. Studies have associated air pollution with adverse effects on nearly every organ system in the body. While air pollution affects us all, low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to be located near ports, rail yards, ware- houses, and busy roads, where they suffer disproportionally from the consequences of dirty air. These localized inequities are particularly important because mitigation strategies to reduce regional air pollution may not address disproportion- ate exposure to pollutants at the local level.
Major economic development projects and infrastructure investment can present both tremendous opportunities and significant threats for communities and residents. Using a community benefits approach, as a local government official you have powerful tools available to ensure that these projects provide the greatest social, economic and environmental benefits while also not harming surrounding neighborhoods. In short, community benefits are assets available through economic development that meet real community needs. Examples include community access to living wage jobs, affordable housing, health and community services and open space.
Arlington, Virginia has been long hailed as a leader in environmental initiatives and in 2015, the county became the first in Virginia to pass a Zero Waste resolution. While Arlington already recycles nearly 47% of trash, the county’s strong commitment to the environment, coupled with a looming increase in trash rates, ignited their movement toward Zero Waste. In efforts to increase recycling rates, Arlington has provided comprehensive residential recycling and waste services, required every business to provide recycling bins, and ordered building and business owners to craft and submit a detailed recycling plan to the county.
An increasing body of evidence shows that private Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft are either shifting transit riders into cars or inducing new car trips which ultimately increases greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area. To combat this, the Bay Area needs an ambitious policy and investment agenda that emphasizes public solutions, funds community-identifed transportation needs over corporate experiments in mobility services, and prioritizes residents’ right to the city and its streets for public transit, walking, and biking. Key components of this policy would include revenue from progressive funding sources, regulation that addresses the problems caused by significant increases in car traffic, and right of way that prioritizes access to our city streets for all residents of differing abilities.
On its Zero Waste journey, Missoula, Montana lags far behind on recycling, recovering only 20% of its total waste. Since 2014, the grassroots citizens group called Zero Waste Missoula has been working to improve Missoula’s low recycling rate and turn the city’s attention to waste reduction. Thanks to this citizens’ advocacy the Missoula City Council passed the first Zero Waste resolution in Montana in 2016 and continues to work on improvements, such as building a composting facility and expanding its curbside recycling to twice-monthly, single stream collection.
In 2006, Boulder’s City Council passed a Zero Waste ordinance and committed to a waste diversion rate of 85% by 2025. Upon adopting curbside recycling and composting programs, in 2014, the city of Boulder saw a significant increase in the amount of waste diverted from landfills. Despite these improvements, Boulder was not seeing strong progress towards its goals, because the commercial sector was lagging behind in increasing their recycling rates. In response, in 2015, Boulder passed a Universal Zero Waste Ordinance (UZWO) to make sure everyone in the community participates equally in waste diversion. Boulder became the third city in the US to require that every home, business and apartment have recycling and composting services.
Zero Waste redesigns our systems and resource use—from product design to disposal—to prevent resource depletion, conserve energy, mitigate climate change, reduce water usage, prevent pollution, and stop ecosystem destruction. This roadmaps provides a guide for individuals to strive towards zero waste within their own communities; the first part of the roadmap walks through what needs to be done, while the next section focuses on how to actually implement policy and infrastructural change through community partnerships and engagement.
Environmental racism and the subsequent chronic exposure to air pollution has been identified as one of the biggest contributing factors to higher rates of severe illness and death from COVID-19 within Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Fossil fuel plants are among the top emitters of pollutants that can cause or worsen respiratory problems and make people more susceptible to COVID-19. This report discusses how the fossil fuel industry contributes to adverse outcomes from COVID-19 within BIPOC communities and how COVID-19 relief packages have prioritized fossil fuel corporations at the expense of communities of color. In addition, it also discusses how the fossil fuel industry has been upheld by the U.S government and financial institutions, and proposes multiple solutions to these problems.