April 23, 2019
By: J. Mijin Cha
With: Manuel Pastor, Madeline Wander, James Sadd, and Rachel Morello-Frosch
Prepared for the Climate Equity Network
In the face of the looming climate crisis, any chance of staving off even worst impacts from climate change depends on significant reductions in GHG emissions and a move from a fossil fuel-based economy to a low-carbon economic future. California is already on the path to a low-carbon future and targeted, deliberate policy implementation will move the state toward an equitable one.
As we transition away from fossil fuels, environmental justice communities—or those that have disproportionately suffered from exposure to environmental health hazards—should be prioritized for the opportunities of a low-carbon economy, including job creation and renewable energy generation. Efforts to transition workers and communities away from declining industries have generally not succeeded, making it all the more urgent to get this right. Without protecting displaced workers and expanding opportunities to other workers, transitioning to a low-carbon future will replicate the mistakes and inequalities of the extractive past and present.
Toward this vision, this report provides a roadmap for a just transition for environmental justice communities built on four pillars:
1. Strong governmental support
2. Dedicated funding streams
3. Diverse and strong coalitions
4. Economic diversification
These pillars provide a framework for protecting communities and workers in the transition to a low-carbon future. While challenging, we can create a low-carbon future that not only creates opportunity but also addresses the historic burdens of the extractive economy.
Read our other publications by research area
Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice
Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.
Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity
In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.
Social Movements & Governing Power
ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.
In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).
The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.