| GRC | 04.23.20

GRC Climate Work Continues

Our community faces tremendous challenges at this time, and while the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s core work focuses on climate change, we recognize that the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and economic inequities that have captured our urgent attention are interrelated in important ways. As a membership group, we need to listen and learn from those who are suffering from generations of neglect and – all too often – deliberate abuse by those in positions of privilege. 

Social justice, public health, and climate equity are one and the same fight

The present moment has crystalized a change in our understanding of the problem. Social justice, public health, and climate equity are one and the same fight. They have to be solved together. As follows, we thought it would be most appropriate to provide a platform for recent statements from Boston’s leaders and some powerful perspectives from diverse leaders that offer their insights into systemic racism:

Climate change is inherently a social equity issue because socially vulnerable communities contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, but they are the most vulnerable to its impacts. This is the case globally, but it is also true here at home in Boston. As we forge ahead to make progress on climate change mitigation and resilience, we are committed to improving conditions that have contributed to economic and racial injustices. Climate resilience without social justice is not sustainable.

We must respect this moment by working harder and changing the way we go at it. The Boston Green Ribbon Commission will re-examine its climate strategies to place stronger emphasis on opportunities to build social equity. We can do better, and we will do better.  

Our work continues with even more urgency 

As the pandemic continues to impact our City, we thank GRC Co-Chair Mayor Martin J. Walsh and his administration for their sound, informed leadership. We also recognize the swift and critical action taken by our healthcare partners that are on the front lines of the crisis. Many GRC member organizations have and continue to mobilize resources to help our community respond. This is representative of the commitment to collective wellbeing that also motivates our shared work on climate change.

The Boston Green Ribbon Commission does not intend to slow our work any more than can be helped and Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston’s commitment to our work continues unimpeded.

The GRC continues to focus on the following initiatives: 

  • Accelerating efforts to develop social equity capacity throughout the GRC by creating a new Task Force that draws on the experiences and expertise of those communities that have been harmed by environmental and energy policies and practices.
  • Supporting the efforts of our Working Groups in Health Care; Commercial Real Estate; Higher Education; Cultural Institutions; and Climate Preparedness;
  • Helping the City reduce carbon emissions from existing buildings (which represents two-thirds of Boston’s annual carbon pollution); 
  • Developing principles and design approaches for neighborhood resiliency;
  • Exploring the potential for decarbonized district energy in Boston;
  • Conducting research to understand what we can learn and adopt from the response to coronavirus (behavioral and economic changes that have an environmental impact); and
  • Encouraging individual enterprises to develop climate action plans consistent with the goals of the City of Boston for climate resilience and carbon mitigation.

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