JULY 26, 2019
Today, Green For All along with seven racial, economic, environmental, and transit justice organizations submitted a letter to the 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that are developing a regional carbon emissions reduction program for transportation as part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative. In the letter, we ask states to prioritize addressing inequality and disproportionate impacts as an equal goal alongside carbon emission reductions in pursuit of a truly clean and modern transportation future that works for all.
The letter outlines specific Policy Design Principles for an Equitable Clean Transportation Program and was co-developed by the signatories with input from a variety of equity and justice-minded groups. Read the letter here.
The letter and its policy recommendations reflect months and months of work listening to concerns, keeping lines of communication open, and building trust with partners across the region.
By the time states announced in December of 2018 that they would move forward with developing a regional cap-and-invest program over the next year, Green For All had already spent at least four months reaching out to key leaders within the environmental justice movement to see where they stood on a proposal from states to develop a market-based approach for the transportation sector in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. But since the process had begun years ago by states, not including those community partners from the beginning, many were upset and skeptical about whether their input would make a difference. Some were ready to oppose the program.
Green For All has experience that tells us that being at the table is always better than walking away and giving up on a negotiation. A market-based approach isn’t the only tool we have to address carbon emissions, and in many ways is not the best tool at bringing justice for communities that have been left behind. Nonetheless, we believe working to inform the policy design and bringing in others, especially those whose voices have been marginalized and who want a seat at the table, is the only way to ensure the policy includes some guardrails and protections for those communities.
On February 13th, 2019, thirty-two representatives from equity, environmental justice, community, transit, labor, and social justice organizations met in Philadelphia at the Northeast Transportation Equity Convening. Over sixty invites had been sent, and Green For All organizers called through invitees to make personal connections and seek input on the agenda in the months prior.
During the Convening, participants discussed the implications of the Transportation and Climate Initiative. We asked, “What would need to be incorporated into the TCI program to ensure it lead to equitable results?” The discussion centered around four key questions:
- How do we ensure emissions reductions?
- What should the criteria be for spending the money?
- What are the complementary policies we want to see?
- What do we want the process to look like?
Principles were compiled from that discussion and refined through a process that included further development and refinement by a subset of those participants who volunteered their time to serve on a Policy Working Group. It also included circulating iterations of the recommendations to a wide variety of equity and justice-centered stakeholders across movements for climate, environmental, transit, social and racial justice.
Green For All knows that the only way to create a truly clean and modern transportation system is to listen to the needs of those who are directly impacted and to elevate not only the problems, but offer solutions that are generated by and with communities. We seek to build honest, transparent, and accountable relationships with our partners, and honor the choices of groups to determine the best way forward for themselves -- those who choose not to engage in the process and those who do, those who agree with us and those who don't agree with us on everything. Our movement is as diverse as the people in it, and we know that when we work together we thrive together.
We thank all of our partners and allies, those who signed their name onto the letter, and those who did not ultimately sign their name but who provided useful input along the way. We cannot do this work without you, and we are proud -- as a national group -- to endorse and support the recommendations that were brought forth as a result of your incredible leadership.
Our partners on the letter include the following signatories:
Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
Green For All
NAACP New York
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress