At the same time that California is expecting a historic $76 billion surplus, the state is tied for third-highest unemployment rate in the country. Millions are struggling with housing and utility debt, a potentially catastrophic fire season is approaching, and the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare deep racial, gender, and economic inequalities in our state.
Sacramento must use the windfall to even up the sides during this economic recovery, while also setting the stage for more equitable and sustainable prosperity in the decades to come.
We are calling on California lawmakers to use this unique opportunity to phase out fossil fuels and dramatically expand renewable energy infrastructure and jobs.
The surplus represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go big on a just transition to an equitable clean energy economy. Right now is the time for a California Green New Deal.
The Coalition for a California Green New Deal includes community organizations, unions, and others who know that the future of our state, nation and planet depends on rapidly transitioning to a clean-energy economy with justice at its core. Our members represent teachers, nurses, and young people; urban and rural neighborhoods; communities of color on the front lines of the climate crisis, and working-class families from every corner of the state.
We are calling on California lawmakers to use this unique opportunity to phase out fossil fuels and dramatically expand renewable energy infrastructure and jobs, while repairing the damage done by centuries of an extractive and unjust economy.
Our communities are on the front lines of the dirty-energy economy.
Seven of the 10 most polluted cities in the country are in California, from the Central Valley, where fossil fuel extraction and trucking make air unsafe to breathe; to Richmond, where youth members of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) were afraid to go swimming after a Chevron oil leak earlier this year.
Poor communities of color are hit worst and first by climate-related emergencies like drought, floods, blackouts, and last fall’s record-breaking wildfires. The economic impact of the pandemic has left many immigrant-owned small businesses with little support, while rising xenophobia and anti-Asian hate has exacerbated violence against our elders.
California’s elected leadership can and must do more to build the resilient, just economy that we need.
The Coalition for a California Green New Deal advocates matching our state’s actions to its rhetoric with climate solutions that advance racial justice and create jobs and equity in energy, housing and healthcare. Lawmakers must seize this precious opportunity to invest in an equitable, sustainable, and transformative recovery. They can do that by:
–Investing $1billion in the creation of community resilience centers at neighborhood-based institutions by increasing funding for frontline-led solutions such as AB 1087 (Chiu): The Environmental Justice Community Resilience Hubs Program within the Climate Resilience Package.
–Committing at least $2 billion to equitable workforce development, including a new California Remediation Workforce Program and investment in health care, long-term care, child care, and public health.
–Easing the working-class debt crisis by funding housing debt relief and housing preservation funds, and committing $3 billion to utility debt relief.
–Reimagining public safety by supporting the API Legislative Caucus’ $200 million proposal, including community-based violence prevention, crisis intervention, and restorative justice programs.
Gov. Newsom’s budget revision is a step in the right direction. By funding housing and utility debt relief, investing $420 million in the Transformative Climate Communities program, and supporting the Vulnerable Communities Mapping Platform, it would make powerful and necessary investments in communities that have been hit hardest by the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
But California’s elected leadership can and must do more to build the resilient, just economy that we need.
Investing in working-class communities of color, creating good jobs, and building resilience in communities on the front lines of climate change will build a more just, more prosperous, more sustainable California.
Editor’s Note: Miya Yoshitani is executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), which is one of the community-based groups that make up the Coalition for a California Green New Deal.