For far too long, communities with a majority of low-income residents and people of color — often those with the least amount of power and contribution to environmental degradation — have experienced a disproportionate share of poor environmental outcomes.
To identify and address Climate and Environmental Justice concerns in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into legislation Local Law 60 and Local Law 64 in 2017 to codify environmental justice into the City's decision-making process.
Local Law 60 requires that a citywide study of environmental justice be conducted and the results of the study, also known as the Environmental Justice for All Report, be made available to the public and placed on the City's website. The law also requires the creation of an online environmental justice portal with access to a mapping tool for environmental justice data.
Local Law 64 requires the establishment of an Advisory Board composed of environmental justice advocates, academics, and public health experts to work with the City on developing a comprehensive citywide environmental justice plan. In addition, City agencies must work with the Advisory Board to develop plans to address environmental injustices in communities of color and low-income communities in consultation with the impacted communities.
Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all persons, regardless of race, color, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, policies and activities and with respect to the distribution of environmental benefits.
Environmental justice works to address this by ensuring access and inclusion for people at every level of the planning and decision-making process, and equal protection from environmental and health hazards. This also includes implementing policies designed to close the gap on these environmental health disparities.
Climate justice is the recognition that it is these same historically overburdened communities that are most vulnerable to a rapidly changing climate. Disparities that are persistent in our society, from social, to economic and health inequities, can be exacerbated by impacts of climate change like extreme heat, flooding, and catastrophic weather events. The pursuit of climate justice also means holding those with the most responsibility for the climate crisis accountable.
This philosophy is based on a set of foundational principles developed by organizations with decades of experience fighting for climate and environmental justice worldwide and here in New York City.Read more about the history of the environmental justice movement