New Report Says California’s “Transformative Climate Communities” Should Be A National Model; Case studies highlight the practical impact in Oakland, Ontario, Stockton, and the northeastern San Fernando Valley
Given the urgent need to take action against climate change, which is receiving more attention at COP26 in Washington and the US, a new report from the Greenlining Institute finds that an innovative California program, Transformative Climate Communities, is a national model for the Could be climate protection. Unlike most government programs, TCC puts communities in charge, giving them the power and resources to combat climate change and build stronger, healthier, and more economically resilient communities. TCC focuses on low-income communities at the forefront of climate change, linking elements that are too often treated separately – such as clean energy, carbon-free transportation, and affordable housing – into unified, community-led plans that aim to reduce carbon emissions reduce jobs and improve quality of life.
“Climate change does not affect everyone equally,” said former Stockton Mayor and current Special Advisor to Governor Newsom Michael Tubbs. “Redlining and environmental racism left color communities like South Stockton with the worst pollution, the fewest green spaces and the fewest resources to deal with climate disasters. But the people in our neighborhood know what we need and can lead us to solutions. This is what transformative climate communities are doing. Rather than empowering bureaucrats, it empowers frontline communities to shape and implement real change, fight climate change, and build thriving, healthier neighborhoods. This is what the future of climate protection must look like, both here in California and across the country. “
Five years after the program’s inception, Greenlining, through legislation sponsored by the Greenlining Institute and the California Environmental Justice Alliance, conducted a rigorous qualitative assessment of how the components of TCC work together to achieve equitable results and what improvements might be needed. The resulting report, “Fighting Redlining and Climate Change with Transformative Climate Communities,” was published along with detailed case studies of TCC projects in Oakland, Ontario, Stockton and the northeastern San Fernando Valley.
“Transformative Climate Communities is a bold new approach to climate policy that has been needed for a long time,” said the report’s author, Emi Wang, Associate Director of Capacity Building at Greenlining. “Redlining and divestment has left colored communities stuck with the worst pollution and fewest resources, but TCC empowers the same communities to take control. And TCC treats communities as a whole. Rather than looking at transportation, housing and clean energy separately, TCC links them and more together so that they all work in harmony. It is time to expand this model nationally and harness the urgent battle against climate change to build healthier, more resilient, and prosperous communities for all – not just the privileged few. “
Key takeaways from the report include:
• With 18 planning grants and eight implementation grants granted so far, the TCC model works – it helps communities design and implement real changes based on the needs they have identified themselves, combat climate change and improve their neighborhoods. “Local residents know their voice is not only heard, we are doing something about it,” said Jasmine Silva of Community Partners, administrator of the Northeast San Fernando Valley Project.
• Although implementation has only recently begun in many places, TCC is already delivering tangible results, from a new bike rental program that will build cleaner traffic and create jobs in East Oakland, to a previously neglected alley that is now used as community green in Pacoima was recovered, part of the Northeast San Fernando Valley TCC project. Projects in progress include affordable housing near public transportation, electric vehicle charging, solar panels for low-income households, and more. Overall, these communities are well on their way to reducing nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions over the next five years, the equivalent of removing nearly 43,000 cars from the road.
• TCC represents a new model for climate protection that should be expanded within California and replicated nationally. Contrary to the misrepresentation that climate action means job loss, TCC shows how communities can use their efforts to reduce carbon emissions to create jobs and build healthier, stronger neighborhoods.
• Despite these great successes, challenges remain. Inconsistent and inadequate funding has severely restricted the number of projects that can be funded and made planning by the municipalities more difficult. In addition, California should reduce the administrative and financial burdens that make it difficult for underserved cities and counties to participate. Proponents have been encouraged by a fund increase approved in the recently completed California budget process, but future funding is not guaranteed. The state must adequately and consistently finance the path from planning to implementation and support the local ecosystems that are necessary to support the transformation of the community.
To learn more about the Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.