Motivated by their success in creating a more equitable Oakland climate action plan, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network together sought new strategies to further their local work. They asked how climate change could invite new ways of thinking and doing that would simultaneously promote economic growth and protect the environment. They saw the advancement of a climate fund as an opportunity to link their work on community-based solutions to the state level and offer models for equitable climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

Emily Kirsch, the center’s green jobs organizer, told me that when she found out that billions of dollars could be generated from polluting industries under cap-and-trade, she quickly realized that potentially none of it would go to disadvantaged communities. There were no mandates or consultation with local communities about how best to invest the revenue. She saw the climate fund as an opportunity to point to cities such as Oakland and proclaim, "That’s where this money should go, to implement climate solutions rooted in equity and projects focused on green collar jobs."

Mari Rose Taruc, the statewide organizing director for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, also felt a strong responsibility to use the lessons learned in Oakland to influence larger statewide policy. While she believed that Oakland had adopted a strong climate action plan, she could also see the lack of funding as the biggest barrier to implementation: "A lot of cities have climate action plans that are grand ideas . . . but how are they going to get the resources to support the implementation or creation of the infrastructure for those kinds of ideas?" For her, direct, state-level lobbying was important to ensure that funds would flow back to local communities and that California’s global carbon market would have real benefits for environmental justice communities.

Read the full article about Oakland's environmental justice movement by Michael Méndez at GreenBiz.