In February and March of 2020, ClimatePlan staff, in collaboration with key regional and state partners, hosted seven hosted “listening sessions” and network mixers across California. We wanted to hear firsthand about the work and priorities of our network partners: where are you gaining ground? What challenges are you facing? What can be done at the network level to support your most important priorities?
To get to those questions, and the inspiration for the listening sessions, we started from our first principles - our network’s strategic priorities: drive transformative policy change, amplify community voices, and build bridges across issues and geographies. In order to ground those priorities, we continually work to ensure that the ClimatePlan Network is connected and aligned around the creation of more sustainable and equitable communities. Grounding, in this case, means getting out into where our partners are and hearing directly from them about their own work and goals and also getting an honest take on our own emerging policy actions.
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.
Here at ClimatePlan, we continue to challenge ourselves to think holistically and transformatively with our present and future challenges. Because of this, we have long recognized and pushed to connect California’s transportation, land-use, housing, and climate decisions to each other, and ground these decisions in community voice. With most of the background research done for our land-use and water project in the Bay Area (spotlighted in October), we have learned how vital it is to connect water decisions to ClimatePlan’s holistic vision.
This connection is vital because the separation of water from our land-use and transportation decisions has three negative consequences:
1. The separation compounds challenges because decision makers are not considering all the benefits or consequences.
2. The separation also prevents decisionmakers from meaningful implementation of solutions to address the challenges, and thus
3. The separation leaves the most vulnerable communities unprepared for the upcoming challenges of climate change.
In California and globally, we know that cars and trucks are our main source of emissions and contribute significantly to air pollution, disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of color.
Here at ClimatePlan, we think that this is an opportune time to think as big and as bold as we possibly can about the ways in which we live our day-to-day lives and how we can learn lessons from this unprecedented time. We know that a shift in culture, mindset, and will is going to be needed to transform our economic, public health, transportation, and housing systems into being more equitable and environmentally-conscious.Read more
Right now, there is so much uncertainty with how the state will move forward after the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing the coordination of resources happening at an unprecedented rate. COVID-19 is also an opportunity for reflection: is California making real progress on its climate goals? We know that California is not on target for its 2020 or 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goals. We know that there needs to be a shift in the way California prioritizes its transportation spending to get us closer to those goals. And we know achieving our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, if done right, can improve the wellbeing of all Californians.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is how interconnected everything actually is, including transportation. The transportation sector is a vital part of California; the decisions made at California Transportation Commission (CTC) meetings have daily implications for the lives of California residents. If California is to meet its climate goals, the state will need more than a thirteen person commission to weigh in on these decisions. There needs to be a holistic approach to decide where transportation investments go that provides equitable solutions to the climate crisis.Read more