Written by Nik Steinberg
Recently, the Biden Administration released details of its Justice40 Initiative, which would direct 40% of the administration’s climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. Meanwhile, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council is developing an environmental justice screening tool to identify these communities, taking us one step closer to providing a fair environment for those who bear the brunt of climate change.
Climate and environmental justice carry distinct, complex histories and academic definitions, but they can overlap: Some disadvantaged groups face disproportionate impacts from climate events like heat waves and floods, and tend to live and work in closer proximity to polluted water and air. In the U.S., there is a long legacy of racist housing policy and poor planning that resulted in outsized exposure to both pollutants and extreme weather events worsened by climate change. As the climate continues to warm, climate and environmental justice issues will continue to exacerbate existing inequities, and eventually, will need to be addressed in tandem.
Biden’s Justice40 program understands this linkage on some level, and is effectively directing its climate efforts toward the most vulnerable. But businesses and investors have a role in perpetuating climate and environmental inequities, so how should they approach this issue?
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