Climate Equity Agenda Key to Passage of California's Climate Legislation
California nearly ended its historic, decade-long legislative effort to fight climate change that began with the passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Instead, "Gov. Jerry Brown cemented an unexpectedly strong alliance of labor unions, grassroots 'environmental justice' organizations and environmentalists," opine Carol Zabin, who chairs the Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy at University of California, Berkeley, and Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California, in this op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the face of business opposition, these groups helped pass SB32, a bill to require a 40 percent emissions reduction by 2030, by pairing it with a companion bill, AB197, designed to ensure that emissions reductions and job benefits actually occur in less advantaged neighborhoods.
According to Zabin and Pastor, "Research has shown that incentives for residential rooftop solar and clean cars have gone disproportionately to more affluent people, forcing those left out to advocate separate programs for renters and low-income drivers." On the labor front, unions question whether jobs in the "low-carbon sector" will pay as high as those in "conventional energy infrastructure."
Per the governor's press release of Sept. 14:
"These cap-and-trade investments will help spur innovation of all kinds to curb carbon pollution," said Governor Brown at a signing ceremony in downtown Fresno, where cap-and-trade proceeds are helping to improve bus rapid transit services and access to affordable housing.
Zabin and Pastor acknowledge that "[s]ocial equity and emissions reductions are not always easy to pair."
One example is community-scale solar, which involves decentralized, midsize solar projects that are larger and thus lower-cost than solar rooftop on individual homes. Community solar can be located in poor areas, does not require homeownership, and can be contracted to include prevailing wage standards and entry into apprenticeship programs for local residents.
Engaging workers and disadvantaged communities will be key to future climate legislative successes, conclude Zabin and Pastor.
- California Environmental Justice Center: New Report Highlights Equity Flaws in California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, September 14, 2016
- UC Berkeley Labor Center: Advancing Equity in California Climate Policy: A New Social Contract for Low-Carbon Transition, September 13, 2016
- UC Berkeley Labor Center: The Link Between Good Jobs and a Low Carbon Future, July 12, 2016
Related on Planetizen:
- Government / Politics
- Social / Demographics
- AB 197
- Community Solar
- Environmental Justice
- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (CARB)
- Labor Unions
- SB 32
- Social Equity
- Social Justice
- California Environmental Justice Alliance
- UC Berkeley
- UC Berkeley Labor Center
- University of Southern California
- Gov. Jerry Brown
- Manuel Pastor
- Carolyn Zabin