CLIMATE ACTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

ISSUES   |   CLIMATE ACTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

CLIMATE ACTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

In Boston, we’re already experiencing the impacts of climate change. But neighborhoods and demographics are impacted differently.

Our most vulnerable - seniors, low-income residents, people of color, those with disabilities, and residents living with certain health conditions - are impacted first, and impacted worst.

John has seen these disparities play out throughout his life. While growing up in Roxbury, the neighborhood was treated like the city’s dumping ground. In the 90’s and 2000’s, John’s neighborhood of Roxbury had the highest rate of asthma and the highest rate of trash transfer stations in the city. John and his neighbors organized a “Don’t Dump On Us” campaign to fight illegal dumping, clean up the vacant lots, and build community hope and power. They created a comprehensive “bottom up” revitalization plan, and made history as the only community group in the nation to win the power of eminent domain to acquire vacant land for resident-led development.

As Executive Director of the DSNI, John made environmental justice a top priority. He oversaw the creation of parks and community gardens, worked to ensure clean air and water for all residents, protected neighbors from extreme heat and power outages, and worked with local companies to improve their business practices so they could continue to hire local residents while reducing the negative health and environmental impacts on the neighborhood. 

As a coastal city, Boston is on the front lines of climate change. It is a serious threat to the health and safety of Bostonians. And given the disproportionate impact that climate risks have on low-income families and people of color, it’s also one of the most pressing social justice issues facing the city right now. 

John knows bold action on climate change is one of the best investments we can make in the future of our economy, our residents, and our city. As a world renowned hub of science and innovation, Boston also has an opportunity and a responsibility to be a leader in developing climate solutions through housing, infrastructure, clean energy advances, and green job development. 
 

John’s record: 
 

  • As Chief of Economic Development for the City of Boston, John worked with partners in the Environment Department and community to launch and implement Resilient Boston Harbor, Climate Ready Boston, and the Climate Action Plan, which are nationally-recognized plans and programs that are guiding the City’s approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change.

  • John supported innovative approaches to zoning and financing for climate resilience through the Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District and through the City’s issuance of Green Bonds. 

  • John developed assistance programs for small businesses that aided local entrepreneurs in making their business operations environmentally sustainable. This included the implementation of a citywide plastic bag ban.

  • As Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, John led a historic neighborhood revitalization effort that supported the efforts by his neighbors to create parks, community gardens, and urban agriculture all which ultimately ensure clean air and water and protects his community from climate impacts like extreme heat and power outages.

  • As a lifelong resident of Roxbury and Dorchester and the father of four young children, John understands what is at stake, and he is dedicated to taking bold action to mitigate climate change and preparing residents, particularly the most vulnerable, for climate impacts that can harm their health and safety.

 

As Mayor, John will:
 

  • Cut the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

    • John will accelerate the City of Boston’s carbon reduction goals and commitment to becoming carbon neutral before 2050, focusing first on cutting emissions in our biggest carbon-emitting sectors: buildings and transportation. This approach to sustainability will include setting stronger carbon reduction standards for private businesses and large buildings. He will continue to build upon and fully implement the Climate Action Plan.

    • John will work to strengthen the emissions standards of all new development, and enhance programs like BERDO and Renew Boston Trust to help large building owners decarbonize existing buildings.

    • John will also advance many of the priorities within the Go Boston 2030 plan relating to sustainable and active transit - specifically expanding Boston’s dedicated bus lanes, ferries, and the bike lane network - and will invest in measures that will make Boston’s neighborhoods more walkable and accessible for individuals with disabilities.  

    • John will continue to advocate on behalf of Boston residents against service cuts and fare increases by the MBTA, he will push for free bus lines in low-income corridors, help create free pass options for low-income residents and will work with Boston’s employers to incentivize using public or active transit, instead of personal vehicles.
       

  • Prepare our neighborhoods for the impacts of climate change. 

    • John will accelerate the City of Boston’s neighborhood-level climate resilience planning and project implementation in order to protect residents from climate change impacts including sea-level rise, coastal flooding, extreme precipitation, stormwater flooding, extreme heat, and power disruptions. He will continue to build upon and fully implement Resilient Boston Harbor and Climate Ready Boston.

    • John will direct more resources towards the renovation of Moakley Park, the East Boston Resilient Waterfront Project, the Resilient Fort Point Channel Infrastructure Project, and other similar projects. These projects stand between the ocean and diverse neighborhoods with housing (including thousands of units of public and affordable housing), businesses, and transportation networks, and this innovative green infrastructure approach will protect residents from the increasingly frequent floods we have been experiencing during storms and high tides - floods that will only get worse as sea levels continue to rise.

    • This innovative green infrastructure approach will also have co-benefits which will improve public health and quality of life by increasing the amount of accessible quality green space, waterfront access, athletic facilities, and public gathering places.
       

  • Focus first on climate justice and environmental justice.

    • John will make sure that the City’s preparations for and response to climate change is just and equitable, focusing especially on areas and neighborhoods with the highest concentration of people of color, immigrant communities, people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income households. These communities are at the greatest risk from climate impacts and stand to benefit the most from resilience efforts, which often simultaneously improve quality of life. He will do this by ensuring equity measures are incorporated into the City’s Capital Plan, and that all community outreach and workshops are culturally relevant and have translation and interpretation available. 
       

  • Establish a Green Jobs team within the Office of Workforce Development.

    • Responding to the crisis of climate change is not only our responsibility; it’s also an opportunity to create thousands of jobs in emerging industries and prepare our residents for the careers of the future. 

    • That’s why John will establish a Green Jobs team within the Office of Workforce Development that will focus on job training for careers in clean energy, green infrastructure, environmental education, and more. This Office will also prioritize environmental justice. 

    • For example, John’s administration will strengthen carbon emissions standards for our city’s buildings, which will include the retrofitting of existing buildings. This is a perfect opportunity to dedicate career pathways for people of color, low income residents, and other populations most vulnerable to climate impacts. 

    • John will also work with incubators like Greentown Labs to create more demand for climate-tech businesses in the City of Boston. He will work to create an ecosystem that allows Boston to grow as a leader in these industries.
       

  • Prioritize clean energy.

    • John will strengthen the City’s Community Choice Energy program and increase the percentage of clean energy delivered to Boston’s homes. He will also incentivize the installation of solar power, and implement aspects of the BPDA’s Community Energy Study that will increase energy resilience for residents and businesses through district energy, microgrids, energy storage solutions, and other approaches.
       

  • Bolster funding for climate programs and enhance partnerships.

    • John will dedicate 20 percent of the City of Boston’s Capital Budget to climate resilience projects. However, that will not be nearly enough funding to address his administration’s ambitious goals. So he will also make sure developers are contributing to district-scale sustainability and resilience projects, issue more Green Bonds, pursue funding opportunities with the Federal and State government and philanthropy, and explore new approaches to funding.

    • John will also work with the State to review regulations such as Chapter 91 to make sure they are updated to meet pressing climate issues. He will also enhance partnerships with neighboring municipalities like Cambridge, Somerville, Revere, and Quincy to develop more regional approaches to climate resilience. 
       

  • Continue to modernize our stormwater infrastructure.

    • John will work with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission to modernize the City’s stormwater systems, and ensure their capital plan focuses on the areas most in need. He will also make sure they are partnering closely with the Environment Department and the BPDA to ensure that climate resilience planning is happening collaboratively.

    • John will call on employers and building owners to create more green roofs and publicly accessible parks on their roofs. He will create incentives to encourage employers and building owners, and offer assistance through City departments.
       

  • Mitigate the effects of ‘Urban Heat Islands’ and increase our tree canopy.

    • John will implement the City’s forthcoming tree canopy plan, which will create incentives to plant more trees to improve air quality and combat the effects of ‘urban heat islands.’

    • He will also direct resources to residents who need assistance on hot days, and ensure the City’s cooling centers are open and accessible. 

A MESSAGE FROM JOHN

Just as this campaign is a community effort, this policy plan has been informed by a diverse group of residents, policy makers, and community organizations who reflect Boston's ingenuity, passion, and future. In this policy you will see your voice reflected and your neighborhood priorities front and center. I am incredibly grateful for the hours, data, and guidance leant to support this effort. I welcome continued feedback and suggestions from all corners of the city, because I know that policies are most successful when led by the community.
 
Now, more than ever, I have the opportunity to bring all voices to the table to create a Boston that brings prosperity and justice for everyone.Together we can create a Boston where nobody is left behind.
 
Thank you for reading and helping to shape Boston's future, I look forward to working with you.