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The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident around the globe. Longer droughts, rising sea levels, and more frequent natural disasters impact countless people and communities. These events oftentimes more greatly affect populations who contribute least to environmental change or those with fewer resources available to mitigate the damage it causes to their communities. This collection examines the ways climate change affects vulnerable communities and populations and brings together knowledge and insights that highlight the impact foundations and nonprofits are having in addressing it.

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The Power to Win: Black, Latiné, and Working Class Community Organizing on the Climate Crisis

March 20, 2023

After decades of warnings from scientists and activists, the climate crisis is no longer a prognosis of what is to come, it is the definitive reality of our world. In the last 50 years, global carbon emissions have risen by 90%, and this past April marked the highest recorded levels of CO2 in human history.Our use of fossil fuels is costing us our lives. Each year, we are experiencing the rapidly increasing effects of this industry-caused crisis: intense droughts and heatwaves, stronger and more frequent hurricanes, increased flooding from risingseas, blazing wildfires, and more.While corporations and the wealthy are responsible for the continued production of the carbon emissions that drive climate change, Black, Indigenous, Latiné, low-income communities, and the global south —the people who have the lowest carbon footprint—are the most impacted by the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Black people, in particular, are 75% more likely than white people to reside near incinerators, coal power stations, or in low-lying areas at risk of flooding.Because of historic environmental racism, disinvestment, poor infrastructure, and lack of resources, these communities are far less equipped to prepare for and recover from climate disasters, placing them at far greater risk of the multitude of traumas that climate disasters unleash. Accordingly, these communities are also on the frontlines of the very work needed to transform the crisis. As the largest network of grassroots organizations in the US, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and our 48 affiliates play a vital role in building the power necessary to tackle the climate crisis. CPD's affiliate organizations are based in the very Black, Latiné, and low-income communities that are most disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. For nearly a decade, the community organizations of the CPD network have fought for and won significant change at the federal, state, and local levels—all while being significantly under-resourced for this work.

When Communities Keep Flooding: A Rural Environmental Justice Case Study

December 7, 2023

We all want to live in places that are safe and able to respond to disasters. But right now, many rural communities and Native nations — especially communities of color and low-wealth places — experience repeated devastating flooding.Repeated flooding is an environmental justice issue for both urban and rural communities, but rural communities need rural solutions when confronting natural disasters and associated recovery efforts, as detailed in our call to action, Through Natural Disaster to Prosperity.The drivers of repeated flooding in rural communities are complex, including climate, unsustainable approaches to development, and structural inequity. Still, rural people across the country are working diligently and creatively on home-grown solutions.The communities and organizations profiled in this case study are all working hard to address the causes and conditions contributing to flooding in their areas, as well as to envision and build thriving futures of equitable rural prosperity.They generously shared their thoughts, focusing on two key questions:What structural challenges keep rural communities from addressing repeated flooding?What will it take for rural communities to drive their own solutions to repeated flooding?

Race, Ethnicity, and American Views of Climate Change

May 25, 2023

Asian, Hispanic, and Black Americans are more likely to view climate change as a threat than Americans as a whole, data show.In the United States, definitions of national security threats are shifting, highly politicized, and closely tied to identity. At the same time, the US is more racially diverse than at any time in its past. To better understand how this diversity feeds into threat perception, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the New America Foundation have partnered to conduct novel research on the views of white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans as part of the 2022 Chicago Council Survey.

Our Shared History: Using Boston’s Climate Opportunities to Address Systemic Racism

March 29, 2023

Our Shared History aims to lay the foundation for an open dialog among a wide variety of stakeholders in Boston's future who hope to explicitly and consciously use the shift to a resilient post-carbon economy as an opportunity to eradicate the harms of racism embedded in our built environment. Embrace Boston and the Boston Green Ribbon Commission undertook this work together deliberately to reach different audiences who may leverage a mutual appreciation of the historical account as the platform for a shared vision of progress.This short report tells the history of Boston's development from a land use, transportation, and building perspective, and how the resulting inequities are now being dramatically exposed by climate change. It also suggests specific ways we can fulfill climate and anti-racist objectives through action, following a core set of principles that determine outcomes of climate equity.

4 Ways the Biden Administration Can Ensure Offshore Wind Development Benefits Tribes and Indigenous People

January 18, 2023

The Biden administration has given unprecedented prioritization to climate and environmental justice goals. This includes the historic agency and administrative appointments of Tribal advisers and leaders; the restoration of protections to areas of Indigenous significance; co-designing collaborative management of federal lands; and support for the Inflation Reduction Act's landmark $60 billion investment for environmental justice communities. Furthermore, a major pillar of the administration's plan to meet global climate targets has been a renewed focus on the clean energy transition, including deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030.Previously, the fossil fuel industry has dominated the energy matrix, which has allowed modern economies and infrastructure to emerge—but at a significant cost. This infrastructure has been built on or near Indigenous lands and in historically marginalized communities that bear disproportionate shares of environmental health costs. The industry has created a dependency on a dirty and financially volatile system forced upon Indigenous people. Building a new energy system presents an opportunity to restore justice to these communities and ensure that new infrastructure and investments build and maintain thriving communities.

Advancing Racial Equity through Federally Funded Public Transit, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Projects: A Data Guide for Local Applicants

September 22, 2022

Improving the quality and reliability of public transit and expanding access to nonmotorized modes of transportation, such as walking and cycling, are key to making progress on the Biden administration's goals of advancing racial equity and tackling the climate crisis, both of which are outlined in executive orders issued by President Biden in his first month in office.Federal agencies have since incorporated these priorities into many grant programs, including those funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, which provides funding for a range of projects across transportation, energy, water, broadband, and more. Many competitive federal grant programs are now incorporating selection criteria requiring applicants to address the equity implications of their proposed projects and to demonstrate how proposed projects will benefit "disadvantaged" communities.Yet many applicants struggle to quantify racial equity and environmental justice and face obstacles in accessing and analyzing the data necessary to do so. In response to this need, Urban researchers have assembled nearly 100 data sources and tools that can help applicants for federal funding make equity-driven decisions about which projects to pursue and help them develop successful, evidence-informed grant applications. Our transportation data guide categorizes these data sources and tools into six relevant categories and demonstrates how these data can be used to address key funding priorities across several competitive IIJA transportation grant programs. The data sources and tools are displayed in the embedded table below. For each entry, we collected key attributes including available indicators, geographic coverage, time span, periodicity, and accessibility. Definitions of these attributes can be viewed by hovering over the column headers in the table.This guide is intended for local governments or organizations interested in advancing racial equity through the pursuit of federally funded public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects. It aims to give local leaders the tools to assess the equity motivations and impacts, both positive and negative, of potential projects. We hope it will empower localities to make evidence-informed decisions that simultaneously advance racial equity and climate action.

The Statue of Liberty Plan: A Progressive Vision for Migration in the Age of Climate Change

August 24, 2022

This report discusses the links between climate change and migration, and proposes a new plan—the Statue of Liberty Plan—for the US to reject nativism and instead embrace a new narrative and policies that would make the US the most welcoming country on earth for migrants and refugees. Adoption of the plan would counter authoritarian appeals, advance national economic and cultural renewal, and strengthen and protect multiracial democracy.

Clean Energy Neoliberalism: Climate, Tax Credits, and Racial Justice

June 14, 2022

The defeat of the Democrats' Build Back Better (BBB) legislation raises serious concerns about the direction of federal climate policy during a pivotal decade. However, amid renewed negotiations for a new, scaled-down reconciliation package, one major policy from Build Back Better continues to have widespread support: a 10-year, $300 billion extension and expansion of clean energy tax credits. Should the proposal become law it would be among the most significant climate policies of the Biden administration. While modeling indicates substantial positive impacts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, heavy reliance on tax credits for addressing climate change raises deep concerns for another major Biden administration goal: achieving equity and justice for disadvantaged communities--the communities most harmed by the fossil fuel economy and most at risk from climate change.In "Clean Energy Neoliberalism: Climate, Tax Policy, and Racial Justice," co-authors Lew Daly and Sylvia Chi explain how energy tax credits embody a neoliberal approach to climate policy that continues to rely heavily on private incentives and market choices to drive the energy transition. They discuss how this could not only privatize the clean energy future but also squander a once-in-a-generation opportunity for remedying historic harms and chronic underinvestment in communities of color.

Honoring and Resourcing Native Communities to Lead the Climate Fight

February 1, 2022

Native Peoples have experienced environmental racism and devastation for generations but contribute the least to climate change. Indigenous communities are often the most negatively impacted by environmental destruction. Native leaders are fighting on the frontlines for environmental justice. Indigenous practices offer healing and sustainable alternatives to land and resource exploitation. But funding to Indigenous-led organizations is not equitable. This report outlines the complex problems facing Native communities and specifically the challenges for Indigenous-led organizations addressing climate change. We share in this report ways for funders to develop and deepen relationships with Native-led nonprofits and to support their community organizing and advocacy efforts.