The events of 2020 - a global pandemic, calls for racial justice, wildfires in our state, and a contentious national election - have put us in need of equity and climate focused leadership more than ever. A few weeks ago, ClimatePlan asked for real climate leaders who understand equity and justice. ClimatePlan welcomes the changes happening at the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is at the forefront of combating climate change, and the State’s Legislature, which has developed some of the most ambitious climate laws in the nation.
California Air Resources Board’s new chair, Liane Randolph
Chair Liane Randolph comes to the CARB from the Public Utilities Commission and will be the first Black chair of the CARB. This is welcomed diversity for the agency after staff raised concerns about a racist work environment at CARB earlier this year. We understand that having a woman of color in an executive position does not always translate to seeing meaningful impacts for low-income residents and communities of color -- many of which are burdened by historic inequities and dirty air pollution for poor planning decisions in our state -- so we hope Chair Randolph’s presence will mean both descriptive and substantive representation for low-income residents and communities of color. The ClimatePlan network looks forward to working with Chair Randolph and also hopes her leadership will bring increased coordination between CARB and other state agencies pivotal to addressing systemic racism, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching the state’s climate goals.
Assemblymember Laura Friedman is new Assembly Transportation Chair
Former Assembly Transportation Chair Jim Frazier was a huge barrier to advancing transportation legislation that addresses climate and equity. Speaker Rendon’s new Assembly Transportation Chair, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, is a positive change on this front.
In Chair Friedman’s public statement, she indicated that she would be a champion for many of the issues in the hearts and minds of the ClimatePlan network. Friedman wrote, “I will work to influence the committee’s efforts away from our focus on freeway and road expansions and towards forward-thinking policies such as investing in mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, zero-emission vehicles, road safety, and sustainability.” Assemblymember Friedman has also authored legislation that requires the California Transportation Plan to factor our state’s climate goals into future updates of the plan. She has also been an advocate for taking clear steps to implement the Governor’s Executive Orders related to reaching our state’s climate goals. Moving into 2021, we look forward to working alongside Chair Friedman to advance transportation legislation that meaningfully addresses systemic racism and climate change in the transportation sector.
Senator Lena Gonzalez is new Senate Transportation Chair
While Senator Gonzalez is fairly new to the Senate, she has been a champion for equity issues as it relates to broadband access. We are hopeful that she will bring an equity lens as the new Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. Her support for SB 127: Transportation Funding: Complete Streets is an indication that she may be a champion for more funding for bicycle and walking programs, as well as revisioning traditional state transportation funding programs to align with the state’s climate goals. We hope this support also means she can be a champion for environmental justice and equity issues within the transportation space.
These changes are exciting as we close 2020 and move to 2021. It is imperative that climate-friendly, equity-minded solutions are a priority for all the decision making bodies in our state. We are hopeful that these new appointments are a step in the right direction. ClimatePlan will be working with them to ensure implementation of the Governor’s Executive Orders as it relates to climate change, coordination between agencies, and promotion of equitable solutions that achieve meaningful greenhouse gas reductions.