Climate and Environmental Injustice Persist Even In Cities With “Strong” Climate Plans

Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund

Photo: Minneapolis Foundation

Minneapolis has been at the center of the nationwide discussion on racism and police brutality against minorities, but it is also a place where the city’s heralded climate plan, first enacted in 2013, does not adequately address climate justice issues, according to a report by E&E News The city’s climate plan, which is still in place, did not “include African American and American Indian voices in critical discussions” in its development.  As a result, minority neighborhoods there — and in other cities too — that had been subject to the historic discriminatory practice of mortgage redlining now disproportionately feel the negative impacts of pollution and climate change.

Why This Matters:  Minority neighborhoods and residents deserve environmental and climate justice in Minneapolis and other cities.  The fact that the burdens of pollution and rising temperatures are felt more acutely in redlined neighborhoods should come as no surprise.  The solution is for governments to be more inclusive at every level, particularly as states and cities take the lead in addressing climate change and pollution problems that plague us today.  This is why the Democratic National Committee’s climate change council yesterday called for bolder climate action and spending of at least $10 trillion over the next 10 years.

Democrats Want More Climate Justice Spending

The Democrats’ climate council was formed last year in response to the party leadership’s refusal to permit the candidates to have a single issue debate on climate change.  Led by progressives who supported Senator Sanders, The Hill reports that the group rolled out their plan and say that it “provides a blueprint for ambitious action to fight the climate crisis and advance climate and environmental justice.”  And that, “If adopted, these platform recommendations would be the most ambitious policies addressing the climate crisis ever adopted by the Democratic Party.”  According to The Hill, Vice President Biden said in April that he would “meaningfully engage with more voices from the climate movement [and] collaborate on additional policies in areas ranging from environmental justice to new, concrete goals we can achieve within a decade, to more investments in a clean energy economy.”

Minneapolis’ Structural Challenges

The E&E story is quite revealing on the ways that racism and climate injustice are now “baked into” the very structure of the city.  For example, because the north side of Minneapolis is heavily paved and has many fewer green spaces and trees when it is 95 degrees in wealthier neighborhoods, the temperature in minority neighborhoods can be as much as 12 degrees higher.   Minneapolis was recently ranked the top city when it comes to access to quality parks, but E&E found that “tree-shaded boulevards and attractive public parks are harder to find in neighborhoods where persons of color outnumber whites. So are public-access buildings like community centers and shopping malls that provide air conditioning during heatwaves.”  Those neighborhoods are “hemmed in by Interstate 94 and a formerly industrialized section of the Mississippi River.”

What You Can Do:  Support the Minneapolis Foundation’s Climate Action and Racial Equity project.

Up Next

Antarctica Warming 3X the Global Average

Antarctica Warming 3X the Global Average

There’s been ample research to show that the Arctic is warming much faster than any other region on the planet. However, there’s been little media focus on what’s happening on the opposite side of the planet, until now. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday has revealed that the South […]

Continue Reading 292 words

Climate Justice Coalition’s National Network Supports House Dems’ Climate Crisis Action Plan

A coalition of nearly 300 progressive groups that span the environmental and civil rights movements have been working together for a year to hammer out the pillars of a climate justice plan they want to see passed, and the House Climate Crisis Committee adopted much of it in the comprehensive Solving the Climate Crisis Action Plan released on Tuesday.

Why This Matters:  When they work together in a coalition, these groups have real political muscle.

Continue Reading 594 words
Millions More American Homes at Risk of Flooding than Previously Thought

Millions More American Homes at Risk of Flooding than Previously Thought

An alarming new analysis from the First Street Foundation revealed that millions of American homes are at a growing risk of extreme flooding. As CNN wrote, today, around 8.7 million properties are located in Special Flood Hazard Areas as determined by FEMA’s flood maps, the legal standard used in the US to manage floodplains, determine […]

Continue Reading 394 words