PROVIDENCE, RI – Today the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee and One Square World celebrate the release of Providence’s Climate Justice Plan, a climate action plan that aims to create an equitable, low-carbon, and climate-resilient Providence.
The plan seeks a just and equitable approach to transitioning the city away from fossil fuels. “In Providence and around the world, people of color have contributed the least to the climate crisis yet they are disproportionately burdened by the polluting industries that are causing climate change and other environmental degradation. They are also most exposed to the impacts of climate change, like extreme heat and flooding”, says REJC team member Pol Tavarez, “when the most impacted are centered in a decision-making process, the resulting tactics and solutions are transformative.”
This plan, which was co-created by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC), tackles climate change by addressing the root causes: structural racism, economic inequality, and our extractive economy. One Square World, Shalini Gupta Consulting, Adeola Oredola Consulting, Acadia Center, and Access Consulting Cooperative comprised the project consulting team.
The plan sets forth concrete carbon reduction targets in the buildings, clean energy, and transportation sectors. It provides policy and program recommendations to meet these targets, as well as objectives around anti-displacement, equitable investment and access, community health, labor and workforce development, collaborative governance, and accountability.
Three main components of the plan include strategies to 1) ensure that those who are most impacted by the climate crisis in Providence are centered in the decision-making process for crafting and implementing solutions, 2) end displacement and ensure dignified housing and access to affordable efficient and clean energy for Providence residents, while reducing fossil fuel use in buildings and 3) create the conditions for healthy air and community spaces, free from the co-pollutants of carbon, to all Providence residents, with a focus on Port-area neighborhoods and other communities facing the highest rates of air pollution.
The plan addresses the localized impact of fossil fuel generation on the local community for the region through the Manchester Street Power Station and calls on regional support to ensure that regional planning prioritizes the leadership of frontline communities and low-income communities of color.
It addresses Providence as a major transport hub for fossil fuels, which has significant local health impacts. The Port of Providence has fossil fuel import, storage, and distribution terminals that provide gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, propane, liquefied natural gas, cement and asphalt to the region. The emissions from ocean-going vessels burn some of the dirtiest fuel (low-grade bunker fuel). Heavy duty diesel engines in trucks and trains, and off-gassing from valves and storage tanks also contribute to local air pollution in Providence. Communities living near the port-area are mostly low-income communities of color, and are therefore bearing most of the burden of regional fossil fuel distribution.
“Art is an engine of expression that connects us to possibilities. Using the plan as a guide we imagined a series of future story, giving voice to residents affected most by the plan’s implementation. It’s important that we center these voices and experiences as we work to recreate our systems.” says REJC member and story producer Vatic Kuumba.
Providence’s vision for a low-carbon future is one where your race or zip code no longer determines your health or economic outcomes, where decisions are made collectively, always allowing those who are most impacted to have the greatest say, where land stewardship is valued over ownership where access to clean water and land is not just a luxury for the wealthy, but a fundamental human right.
Find the executive summary here:
Find the full plan here: http://www.providenceri.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Climate-Justice-Plan-Report-FINAL-English.pdf.