Though we all contribute to poor air quality, the impact is not shared equally. Disadvantaged communities throughout the State have faced the brunt of poor air quality for years. These communities are also faced with the added burden of being some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Coalition for Clean Air and our partners in the California Climate Equity Coalition have been working to ensure that investments of climate change dollars go first and foremost to these communities.
Investing where it’s needed most
As original sponsors of SB 535 (De León), which ultimately passed in 2012 after 5 years of campaigning, we have been taking an active role in the implementation of this historic law, which requires some of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) dollars (derived from the auctioning off of pollution allowances under AB 32) to flow benefit disadvantaged communities to reduce pollution and provide services and jobs. Subsequent legislation, like AB 1550, further requires a portion of GGRF dollars to be spent directly in those communities rather than just benefiting them. More recently, AB 617 lays the groundwork to conduct actionable air quality monitoring in our most afflicted communities, beginning the process of improving the quality of life in these long-neglected areas.
California now has an unprecedented opportunity to invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in emissions-reducing programs in low-income communities of color that suffer the worst impacts of pollution, yet have the least resources with which to mitigate it. Successful implementation of these climate equity initiatives will deliver tangible benefits from the GGRF to underserved communities and build support for California’s climate policies.
CCA is joined in leading the advocacy for climate equity by The Greenlining Institute, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Public Advocates, and SCOPE in a remarkably cohesive and effective coalition. We work together at the State and local level to ensure that the GGRF is successfully invested in accord with its original environmental justice intent. Because California did not have a pre-existing framework for determining how to make climate investments in disadvantaged communities, our engagement is crucial to ensuring that disadvantaged communities receive direct, meaningful and assured benefits.