Dear ClimatePlan partners and allies,
I hope you are all staying safe and practicing physical distancing at this time. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented crisis for everyone. The magnitude and spread of this virus has shown how connected everyone is. What happens across the world does impact California—climate change has shown this—but COVID-19 has forced everyone to feel the immediate impacts of world-wide disaster. ClimatePlan stands in empathy as hundreds of thousands of people across the world have experienced devastation due to this pandemic.
The impacts of COVID-19 are far-reaching
COVID-19 has also shown how important integrated solutions are in this time. This pandemic has impacted every part of society and its clear there’s not one solution that will fix everything. Every day we’re learning something new about COVID-19’s impacts on communities:
- The New York Times shared that the coronavirus is infecting and killing black people in the U.S. at disproportionately high rates; one of the factors listed is the effect of government redlining policies.
- The Environmental Health News shared that kids who have asthma and live near industrial polluters may face higher risk from coronavirus; kids—and I believe adults—who are already facing respiratory challenges due to air pollution and asthma are more likely to have to go to the hospital due to COVID-19.
COVID-19’s reach is astounding: transit ridership is down by historic levels—and there aren’t consistent protections for transit workers—while many communities are facing eviction, as well as water and other utility shut offs due to lack of payment.
These issues are connected. Creating communities that dismantle the impacts of redlining; make sure that everyone—especially low-income communities and communities of color—live in neighborhoods with clean air, in homes they can afford, with sustainable transportation options is essential. And these communities are not only climate or equity or health solutions; they are how California builds resilient communities that can protect residents times of crisis.
How ClimatePlan is currently responding to COVID-19
At ClimatePlan, we remain committed to our vision of a healthier, more vital California that supports sustainable and equitable communities. We have been inspired—and encouraged—to see the advocacy world rise up in support as thousands of Californians are facing real threats to their health, livelihood, and homes because of COVID-19. We have joined efforts led by ClimatePlan partners and allied networks to ensure that Californians are protected in this time of crisis. These protections include:
- Supporting a federal stimulus of $25 billion for transit, of which California will receive around $3.75 billion.
- Advocating for California transportation agencies to work with stakeholders to invest in innovative solutions such as a universal transit pass and fare-free transit for key populations to make it easier to ride transit when COVID-19 is managed.
- Opposing regulatory rollbacks, specifically asking the California Air Resources Board to not rollback, loosen, delay, or pause regulations such as Advanced Clean Trucks, Transportation Refrigeration Units, and more.
- Urging for immediate action to respond to potential water shut offs—and water protections—for vulnerable Californians in light of COVID-19 impacts as well as the fact that clean water is a basic human right.
We are also partnering with other networks to support efforts for a moratorium on rent and evictions. Finally, we know and continue to elevate how important parks are for physical (and mental) health during this crisis (while making sure people practice physical distancing).
We have created space in our policy workgroup to elevate shared messaging around these efforts. If you are a ClimatePlan partner and interested in shared messaging on these efforts, please reach out Nailah Pope-Harden.
Finally, we believe that these efforts shouldn’t end with COVID-19—especially since millions of Californians struggle with these issues—and remain committed to partnering with others to advance these efforts at the local, regional, state, and federal level.
Supporting advocates in this time of crisis
In addition to our policy efforts, the ClimatePlan team wants to be helpful to our network. We understand that as advocates are pushing for policies to support communities during this pandemic, they are also facing similar challenges and stressors. Every person's experience is unique at this moment so we want to provide some resources to help advocates take care of themselves.
Over the next few months, ClimatePlan will be offering Virtual Gatherings that run the gamut from self-care practices like yoga, meditation, and breathwork classes to more organizational conversations like how to imagine the future for your organization (beyond the pandemic) with the tool of strategic foresight to a digital book club focused on how to hone our imaginations for a new normal.
We want to make sure that advocates have a space to take care of themselves, as well as understand how their organizations will survive this pandemic. Through these Virtual Gatherings, we hope to help support advocates’ efforts on self-care as well as provide valuable resources for organizations struggling with the impacts of COVID-19.
For more information on these efforts and how to join, please reach out to Amy Hartman (amy-at-climateplan-dot-org).
Finally, I want to share that ClimatePlan staff have all been working from home since March and will remain working from home until it is safe to work in the office. If you don't already, please follow ClimatePlan on Twitter, we'll share policy updates and also commit to sharing pictures of our virtual workspace, cats, kids, roommates, and more.