The people of Colorado want a state powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate economic, racial and gender inequality.
We know that the time for this great transition is short. We are living in a country, and on a planet, already in crisis. Climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming, which would require maintaining the temperature rise to 1.5-2 C degree above pre-industrial times.
Also, the time for energy democracy has come: we believe not only in changes to our energy sources, but that wherever possible communities should collectively control these new renewable energy systems. We call for endorsement of the following platform (http://peoplesplatform.info/)
E N E R G Y
- Support the rapid transition off fossil fuels, recognizing the harm to public health, safety and the global climate
- Support a rapid transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 or sooner
- End fossil fuel subsidies and ban new fossil fuel exploration, extraction, and infrastructure projects
- Protect our communities’ health and safety from fracking operations by establishing buffer zones of 2,500 feet between new oil and gas operations and occupied buildings and other areas of special concern, such as homes, schools, water sources and playgrounds, and by supporting local control on oil and gas development that is more protective than current state law, including bans and moratoria.
- Avoid false solutions and ineffective market-based schemes
- Support transition to community-based decentralized renewable energy resources, including net metering, shared renewables or virtual net metering, feed-in tariff programs and consumer control of energy usage
- Support demand reduction and energy efficiency programs
- Prioritize clean, renewable energy development and community resilience programs in low-income communities and communities of color that have historically borne the brunt of industrial pollution, power plant pollution, transportation pollution, and all forms of toxic contamination
A G R I C U L T U R E
Promote programs and incentives to shift from a globalized industrial food system that contributes significantly to the climate crisis to a more localized, organically-grown and resilient food system that can help build and sequester carbon in soils and reduce fossil fuel dependence
F I N A N C E
Develop vehicles for public financing of a Just Transition
- Generate municipal bonds and climate/green energy bonds
- Divest public pension funds and local and state government funds from fossil fuels and fossil fuel infrastructure
- Move public funds from financial institutions that provide loans to fossil fuel companies and infrastructure
- Advocate for public banking in Colorado
L A B O R
Promote family-sustaining, regenerative, healthy, safe, and local clean energy jobs
- Develop pathway out of poverty job programs that build skills and wealth
- Develop retraining and transitional support for employees currently in the fossil fuel energy sector
- Provide legal and technical assistance and capacity support for community cooperatives
G O V E R N A N C E
- Pledge not to take money from the fossil fuel industry
- Support overturning Citizens United
- Replace the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) with one or more state entities whose mission is to protect public health and safety from oil and gas development and to promote renewable energy development
R E S E A R C H & D E V E L O P M E N T
Increase funding for research on climate change, safe methods to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, improved renewable energy power storage, and agricultural techniques that maximize resilience.
E D U C A T I O N
- Ensure young people have education opportunities that teach the realities of climate change, and the need for action by individuals, communities and government
- Take an active stand against misinformation efforts aimed at confusing teachers and young people about the causes, consequences and solutions to climate change
- Support schools to prioritize climate and energy education, especially schools with populations most at risk from climate change and the extraction and burning of fossil fuels
- Make space for young people as key stakeholders at public events including candidate debates and town halls
The impact of inequality is not just economic. Like poor environmental conditions, low wages and other disparities “get under the skin.” A substantial body of research links low socioeconomic status to higher disease risks and shorter life expectancy. Often geography further exacerbates the social and health challenges resulting from low-wage work. For example, low-income communities and communities of color live, work, and play in physical locations that are more frequently beset by multiple environmental hazards and social stressors. Members of these communities carry an increased risk of adverse health impacts due to the cumulative effects of being exposed to disproportionately high levels of air and water pollution, substandard housing, crime, and other stressors.
Given these alarming conditions and trends, many advocates and policymakers in California have sought to weave equity considerations into climate policy design. After all, climate change will likely make California’s disparities worse, in part due to what is sometimes labeled the “climate gap”: low-income communities and communities of color risk the greatest economic and health consequences from climatic shifts.16 Equally worrisome is the fact that climate policies can actually harm blue-collar workers, low-income families, and communities of color when decision-makers craft GHG reduction strategies without considering the all-important distribution of costs and benefits. For example, when subsidies only help wealthy consumers purchase solar panels and electric vehicles, then public or ratepayer resources are diverted from those who remain vulnerable to the problems of job loss, low-wage work, existing pollution hotspots, higher energy prices, “heat islands,” and other challenges.
Labor and environmental justice groups have significant common ground on equity matters in the climate policy arena. Ambitious GHG goals offer significant opportunities to reduce the environmental and economic inequities of concern to both groups. Whether progress continues depends on the ability of the advocates for these key constituencies to forge a shared equity agenda and provide
the support elected officials need to steer the state’s transition to a more equitable low-carbon economy.
We propose the Climate Policy Equity Framework to help advocacy groups, state lawmakers, and regulators advance a common-ground equity agenda. In this framework, we group shared equity criteria under three broad principles (see sidebar). Together, these criteria can be used to develop and evaluate climate policy proposals.
We do not pretend that agreement will be easy to forge: climate change is a complex challenge, and inequality is deeply embedded throughout our society.
Bringing together diverse constituencies requires shared values, a common agenda, and trust that develops over time. We hope that this document supports a lasting conversation to build a new social contract to support the state’s transition to a low-carbon economy and to support California’s leadership role in addressing the climate crisis.
Finally, we should remember that doing nothing about climate change will lead to severe economic disruptions resulting from sea-level rise, drought, extreme weather events, and forest fires, which will generate an economic, environmental, and moral rationale for being aggressive on climate policy. But there is also a distributional imperative: we can tackle the challenges of inequality weighing on the state and the nation through climate policy, and if we don’t, the inequities in our overall economy are likely to be reproduced in the emerging clean energy sectors.
The report proceeds as follows:
Section 1 discusses why equity is important and outlines the concerns and advocacy of environmental justice and labor groups in California.
Section 2 presents the Climate Policy Equity Framework to guide policymakers in setting equity goals and tracking performance. We review evidence of the impact of climate policy so far on the three main goals of environmental justice, economic equity, and public accountability. Our analysis highlights important indicators and corresponding data sources to better track the impact of climate policy on equity.
Section 3 applies the Climate Policy Equity Framework to two cases of statewide GHG reduction strategies, one in the area of energy efficiency and the other in renewable energy. Our goal is to demonstrate ways to advance shared equity and climate goals as part of the process of evaluating, designing, and implementing GHG reduction strategies, using the Equity Framework as a guide.
Section 4 builds from the case studies to offer recommendations on strategies to build a social contract as we restructure our economy to lower GHG emissions. These recommendations suggest avenues for creative program design that moves beyond a “lowest common denominator” approach to equity towards a pro-active common-ground equity agenda. We also recommend ways to improve
public accountability for achieving equity goals in climate policy.