Categories: Community Corner
The urgent need to create initiatives to combat climate change has highlighted the complex and interconnected issue of environmental racism and injustice. As Dr. Dorceta Taylor, Professor of Environmental Justice at the Yale School of the Environment explains, “Environmental justice is really concerned with documenting and understanding the disproportionate and unequal environmental burdens that certain communities face. In the United States and around the world, low-income, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian people tend to be living in spaces where environmental hazards, extreme natural and human-made disasters, and environmental degradation occur more rampantly.”
Communities of color that have been historically underserved continue to grapple with environmental injustices that have led to poor housing quality, high energy costs, and disproportionate health burdens stemming from fossil fuel pollution in their homes and communities. Not all housing is created equal and long lasting racial discrimination has led to disproportionate negative health outcomes.
This piece by NPR highlights one example of how historical red-lining practices has led to severe disproportionate health outcomes. Nearly every neighborhood that was redlined in the 1930s is hotter in temperature today by an average of 5 degrees Fahrenheit due to relatively more pavement and fewer trees.
In 2018, New York State signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which aims to decarbonize buildings in an effort to combat climate change, reduce energy costs and equitably improve the lives of New Yorkers.
As we seek to improve housing quality and health outcomes embedded in the CLCPA goals, we must ensure that the historic impact of environmental racism – cost burdens from high residential utility costs and adverse health effects from heightened exposure to pollutants – are proactively addressed and redressed.