Local Decision Making in the Statewide Effort to Address Climate Change:
Where Do Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color Fit In?
Rafael Aguilera, Principal and Green Consultant, The Verde Group
The first Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute Wednesday night panel, held on September23, was a lively discussion on the potential consequences and opportunities in addressing climate change through the implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, and the economic and social costs/benefits to communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color. Panelist outlined the nuts and bolts of the complex climate change legislation from role of the California Air Resource Board, options for how resources could be distributed, and the implications of a new green economy. Scroll down to download the presentations from the event by clicking on the image or link.
California stands as a leader with a strong commitment to combat global warming with the passage of AB 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act, authored by California Assembly members Fran Pavley and Fabian Nunez, which requires California to reduce Green House Gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The implementation of AB 32 is set to commence in January of 2012. Other legislation currently under discussion in Sacramento (such as AB 1405 and SB 31) differentiates the mechanisms that may price carbon and distribute revenue in the implementation of AB 32. Our economic downturn creates both the best and worst moment for change.
Tara Marchant outlined how communities can influence policy and benefit from the implementation of AB 32. To reach 1990 emission levels, AB 32 institutes a series of GHG reduction mandates on vehicles, power plants, agriculture and buildings and communities have access to programs such as the weatherization and retrofitting of homes, appliance exchange out programs and new jobs through the emerging green economy. Specific language in AB32 ensures that communities have input in the implementation process and that disadvantaged communities will benefit from public and private investments.
Rafael Aguilar discussed the market mechanism clause of AB 32 and the numerous options for carbon pricing and revenue distribution that the California Air Resource Board is considering. The goal of carbon pricing is to protect consumers by increasing cost for polluters. Unfortunately, higher prices for energy companies will trickle down to the communities that are already burdened with high energy cost. One of the revenue distribution options could offset higher consumer costs through direct rebates and ultimately lead to energy cost savings for the most impacted communities.
Evelyn Rangel-Media and Nidia Bautista talked about supporting legislation that provides an alternative revenue distribution plan that would provide community benefits to low-income communities and neighborhoods most impacted by climate change and global warming. The Carbon Trust Fund, also known as SB 31, would provide guidance to CARB that would lead to additional GHG reduction though the investment of a percentage of carbon pricing revenue into 1) the administration of the Carbon Trust Funds, 2) renewable energy and energy efficiency, specifically in disadvantaged communities, 3) new technology and 4) green job development and training that will offer pathways out of poverty. AB 1405, the Community Benefit Fund, is complementary to SB31 and will identify specific neighbors to receive investment based on how they are impacted by climate change and global warming