A Deeper Interrogation: Addressing Climate and Racial Justice in the ClimatePlan Network

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police has finally created a sea change in our country to support black lives. This is beginning to take tangible forms such as efforts to defund police departments, the creation of task forces looking into reparations for slavery, and interrogating how our nation’s prison industrial complex contributes to racial injustice. We are also seeing residents encourage their city councils, county and state governments, and the federal government to reprioritize black lives and black communities. At ClimatePlan, this change is also being felt at an organizational and network level. 

ClimatePlan’s Evolution 

ClimatePlan was formed in 2007 by 11 nonprofit organizations—American Farmland Trust, California Center for Regional Leadership, California League of Conservation Voters, Center for Clean Air Policy, Greenbelt Alliance, the Local Government Commission, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Forest Trust, Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club, and TransForm—with a seed grant from the San Francisco Foundation.

Equity was a part of ClimatePlan’s creation--one of its guiding principles was, “Advance Solutions that Increase Social Equity and Environmental Justice.” As a learning network of over 50 organizations, ClimatePlan worked hard to ensure that regional plans and statewide policies led to more equitable outcomes. While there was a clear focus on equitable policy and outcomes, there was not as much attention to advancing racial justice.

Now, in 2019, ClimatePlan is a black-led network, with the majority of staff being women of color. It is clear that the issues that ClimatePlan works on - housing, land use, and transportation - are inextricably linked to the need to center equity and ensure those who are most impacted--black and brown lives--are front and center in decision-making. In the past 2 to 3 years, ClimatePlan has deepened its commitment to equity with the adoption of shared agreements, the promotion of the Investment without Displacement platform as it relates to housing justice in California, and the commitment to centering and amplifying community voices in everything ClimatePlan does. 

How ClimatePlan will address racial and climate justice 

In the current climate, we all need to interrogate ourselves if we want to move forward an agenda that isn’t simply business as usual. For ClimatePlan, this means ensuring initiatives like the Decolonizing Transportation campaign and pushing for the California Transportation Commission to create an Equity Advisory Committee (EAC) are grounded in the needs of the community. We also know that silence can also be interpreted as being complicit. The Executive Director will continue to speak openly and write about the need to center race in the economic recovery from COVID-19 and equity in rebooting our public transportation systems post-COVID-19. 

ClimatePlan also wants to make sure the network is an active participant and deepening their own commitments as well. Many ClimatePlan partner organizations are white-led. Dismantling racism and white supremacy will take all of us working in solidarity towards the more equitable, just, and sustainable world that we refer to, talk about, and dream of. 

If ClimatePlan wants to advance racial and climate justice, it means that the network will need to be comfortable talking about race, racism, and how anti-blackness and white supremacy shapes our day-to-day policy work and network collaborations. This summer, ClimatePlan will begin hosting book clubs and webinars to convene more conversations around racial justice within our network. The intention is to create not only a safe space, but also a bold space where ClimatePlan staff, Steering Committee, and partner organizations can look internally at our own personal and organizational relationships to race and then apply that analysis to our campaigns, policy work, and initiatives. If you are a ClimatePlan partner and interested in this, please reach out to Amy at amy “AT” climateplanca “DOT” org. .

Our Strategic Direction


get updates