As Trump Withdraws from Paris Accord, California Funds Affordable Housing With Climate Polluter Fees

By Chelsea Tu, Public Advocates Inc., for CarsonWatch

Last week, President Trump justified his withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement on the ground that it would “undermine our economy”. In the wake of his announcement, states, cities, and businesses have jumped in to fill the void in America’s climate leadership. Many of them have already figured out how to protect the climate while boosting a fair and inclusive economy. For instance, New England states’ reinvestment of their cap-and-revenues to lower energy bills has already created over $2.76 billion in net economic gains and 28,500 job-years of employment.

California, where I work on climate justice with several coalitions, has proven that we can fight poverty by fighting pollution. California invests 35% of its cap-and-trade revenues in projects that benefit underserved communities. In a short video our California Climate Equity Coalition produced, with narration by our State Senate Leader Kevin De León, Guillermo Mayer, president and CEO of Public Advocates, sums it up:

“we are proving that states don’t need to choose between a healthy environment, a healthy economy, and the rich cultural fabric of our cities.”

The proof? In the last three years, California has invested over $570 million in building more than 4,300 units affordable units near transit across the state.

Here’s just one  example: Rolland Curtis Gardens, a complex in South Los Angeles, will provide 140 units affordable to very low income households. As gentrification of transit-oriented neighborhoods displaces many long-time residents, this investment will ensure these families can stay in their neighborhoods and benefit from revitalization efforts. Since lower-income people are also the most likely to ride public transit, investing in affordable homes near transit also contributes to the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goal.

With President Trump’s abandonment of our national commitment to both housing and climate, cities and states will continue to step in to fill the void. And CarsonWatch will continue to bring you stories about the residents who are organizing with their neighbors to make sure that happens.