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Rutgers report examines state efforts to address intersection of climate policy and equity goals

A new report explores what states are doing to integrate equity considerations in state climate change and clean energy policy.  
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As New Jersey and other states lead nationwide efforts to address climate change, they are recognizing the disproportionate impact that climate change has on disadvantaged populations, according to a new Rutgers report.

The challenges and opportunities states face are surveyed in “Field Notes: Equity and State Climate Policy,” part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) project series. The study focused on the nine states currently in the RGGI, as well as New Jersey and Virginia, California, Illinois, and the cities of Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.

The report finds that states are taking new approaches to tackle and remove financial obstacles and improve delivery of more clean energy projects to targeted communities.

However, it notes several challenges many states face in directing climate program benefits to low-income households such as limited resources, and a lack of public support for state climate action policies.

“Climate change has a disproportionate impact on low-income individuals, communities of color and indigenous residents. And under-resourced communities pay a disproportionate amount for energy,” said co-author Jeanne Herb, executive director of the Environmental Analysis & Communications Group at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

“The combination of these factors, together with increasing recognition by the states that they cannot achieve their climate goals without involving these communities, creates an important crossroads in state climate policy,” Herb continued. “While there is a long path ahead to meet equity and climate goals, this study provides a progress report for states to learn from each other.”

The study was co-authored by Marjorie Kaplan, associate director of the Rutgers Climate Institute.

The full report is available through the RGGI Project Series here.