GC3’s Equity and Environmental Justice in Climate Solutions Webinar Series

The Equity & Environmental Justice Working Group, part of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3), is hosting a special webinar series on equity and environmental justice in climate solutions beginning on September 10 and running through November 19. The purpose of this series is to help members of the GC3, and the public, understand how climate change affects low-income people, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, people of color and other people who are at increased risk due to climate change. In addition, presenters will suggest what is needed to prevent illness, disability and death from climate change related conditions among these and other Connecticut residents.

These weekly webinars run from 12PM-1PM. The general format of the 11-part series will be 30 minutes of presentation, 10 minutes of host-facilitated discussion, and 20 minutes of questions and answers with the audience. All sessions will be recorded and accessible from the GC3 website. Registration is required.

Webinar Dates and Topics
September 10 ─History of Environmental Justice in Connecticut
Speakers: Sharon Lewis, Executive Director, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice
This session will describe how historical and persistent systemic racist policies and practices have disadvantaged African American, Latinx, and Native American people in Connecticut and nationwide, and how this has led to the birth of environmental justice and climate justice movements.

September 17 ─Social Determinants of Health Disparities and Energy Affordability
Speakers: Orlando Velazco, Director, Health Equity Office, CT DPH, and Brenda Watson, Director, Operation Fuel 
This session will describe how external environmental and social factors, including poverty and systemic racism, affect health status and energy access in climate justice communities.  The speakers will highlight the mismatch between needs and programs among this population.

September 24 ─ An Adaptation and Mitigation Framework for Climate-Vulnerable Populations in Connecticut
Speakers: Dr. Mark Mitchell, Associate Professor of Climate Change, Energy, and Environmental Health Equity, George Mason University
This session will provide a broad overview of how the conditions discussed in previous sessions generally lead to a number of problems that will be discussed in more detail in following sessions. The presenters will show how some of the proposed solutions fit together and how to approach and prioritize them.

October 1 ─Transportation and Climate Justice
Speakers: Tony Cherolis, Transport Hartford Coordinator, Latino Center for Progress; Maria Cecilia Pinto De Moura, Union of Concerned Scientists; Taylor Mayes, Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs 
Transportation investment prioritized modes of transportation that are out of reach of a large percentage of the population.  This priority leads to suburban sprawl, poor use of economic and land resources, poorer health, and increased global warming.  Our speakers will present on the need to promote public good rather than private access.

October 8 ─Energy Justice
Speaker: Leticia Colon de Mejias, Energy Solutions, Eco Warriors 
Even though all electric and gas customers pay into the energy efficiency and renewable energy funds, renters and people of low wealth are likely to have many more barriers to accessing these services, despite needing these services more than higher income people.  This presentation will explain what is needed to provide equitable access to energy efficiency and clean renewable energy for renters and people of low-wealth, while simultaneously improving their health.

October 15 ─Environmental Justice and the Urban Natural Environment
Speaker: Chris Donnelly, Urban Forester 
Urban centers are a balance between the built environment and the natural environment.  Trees, soils, waterways and wetlands provide a number of eco-services in urban and non-urban areas, yet these services are often underappreciated and more difficult to maintain in cities. This session will discuss some of the common issues in urban areas that can be mitigated through nature-based solutions, as well as some of the unique challenges of providing these solutions.

October 22 ─Indigenous Approaches to Climate Change
Speaker: Gerald Torres, Professor, Yale School of Environment 
Indigenous perspectives on and approaches to the natural environment and climate change are substantially different from that in Western cultures. Our speaker will discuss how Native American tribes invoke the wisdom of Local, Traditional Knowledge (LTK), and perspectives to address climate change, as well as  the obstacles and benefits of their unique relationship to the U.S. and Connecticut governments to develop climate solutions.

October 29 ─Mapping Vulnerable Populations
Speaker: TBA
Although there are people who are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in all parts of the state, due to historic and current social and racist policies, low-wealth individuals and, even more so, people of color are concentrated in certain parts of the state in areas that are historically underinvested.  These communities are at increased health, social and economic risk, which is being exacerbated by climate change.  In order to change these detrimental policies, we must identify and invest in these communities so that those who are most vulnerable to climate change for any number of reasons have an equal opportunity to thrive. Mapping provides a tool to identify and target resources to address these climate inequities. This session will describe these tools and how to use them.

November 5 ─Addressing the Needs of Persons with Disabilities in Climate Planning
Speakers: Marissa Rivera and Stephen Byers, Disability Rights Connecticut 
If you are able-bodied, it is often difficult to perceive the barriers that need to be addressed for those who are disabled to become more resilient to the effects of climate change. This session will describe common disabilities and resources to help you plan to help disabled people to adapt to climate change at the state and local levels.

November 12 ─State Climate Justice Laws and Policies
Speaker: Marianne Engelman Lado ─ Director, Yale Environmental Justice Clinic
Connecticut is not the first state to consider how to make climate policies more equitable for people of low-wealth and people of color.  In this session, our speakers will review relevant laws and policies in other states that might be adaptable to meet Connecticut’s needs.

November 19 ─Intergenerational Climate Justice
Speakers: Sena Wazer, Sunrise CT; Alex Rodriguez, CT League of Conservation Voters; Jaysa Hunter-Mellers 
Many of today’s youth will live beyond the next millennium.  We know that decisions made in the past jeopardize the future and that decisions being made today will have dramatic effects on the livability of the planet in the future.  What do youth, especially youth of color, think about the effects of climate change on them and on future generations? How are they responding? What messages do they have for their parents’ and their grandparents’ generations?  This session will be a facilitated multi-racial panel discussion among several young people who are working on climate justice today.