Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Michael Tubbs and Debra Gore-Mann: A bold new model for climate action
Michael Tubbs and Debra Gore-Mann: A bold new model for climate action

Michael Tubbs and Debra Gore-Mann: A bold new model for climate action

  • Updated
  • 0

As climate disasters hit state after state, fossil-fuel-funded members of Congress focus on a false choice between economic prosperity and fighting climate change. Meanwhile, politicians’ lip service to the devastating impact of climate change on communities of color adds insult to injury.

There is a better way: California has quietly pioneered a new approach that should be adopted nationwide.

We know, because we helped make it happen.

The program is called Transformative Climate Communities. TCC uses climate action to build prosperous and thriving communities, focusing on neighborhoods with the biggest environmental and economic challenges. And, unlike most government programs, it empowers the communities themselves to lead.

In Stockton, California, like many communities, the legacy of environmental racism lingers. Latinx, Black and Asian American neighborhoods were devastated by a crosstown freeway that split communities and added to the pollution from heavy industry and the Port of Stockton. Historic disinvestment left the area with deteriorating infrastructure, poverty and unemployment.

That’s typical, thanks to the legacy of redlining — policies that segregated communities of color and deprived them of financial investment.

Government programs aimed at addressing these issues have generally been too small, too fragmented, and imposed top-down on communities. Transformative Climate Communities does nearly everything differently.

TCC funds communities to develop neighborhood-scale climate plans based on priorities set by the residents themselves. Its structure builds in deep, ongoing community leadership — with government supporting, not dictating. TCC then provides implementation grants to make those dreams real.

Whereas governments usually put energy, transportation and housing policy in their own siloes, TCC creates holistic, connected plans that link these and other elements together.

TCC also requires projects to create good-paying jobs and economic opportunities for residents, plus an anti-displacement strategy so residents can reap the benefits without getting pushed out.

When The Greenlining Institute recently analyzed the impact of Transformative Climate Communities, the program’s potential to change the entire climate discussion became clear: It can move us toward our climate goals while empowering communities to build a healthy, thriving future based on their own priorities. TCC should be replicated on a national scale.

We don’t have to choose between protecting our climate and building prosperity in communities too often neglected by the government. We know how to do both.

If we truly want to build back better, Transformative Climate Communities has shown us how. Congress should take notes.

Michael Tubbs, the former mayor of Stockton, is special adviser for economic mobility and opportunity to California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Debra Gore-Mann is president and CEO of The Greenlining Institute.


Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

At the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus had spread globally before its potential severity was clear. The identification of the Omicron variant in South Africa took only two weeks. Travel restrictions followed within hours, world-wide surveillance for the variant is underway, and clinical and epidemiologic research are in full swing.

Michael Paul Williams — a columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch — won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary "for penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city's monuments to white supremacy."

President Joe Biden arrived in the White House 10 months ago with two top foreign policy priorities: He wanted to rebuild the alliances his pr…

  • Updated

What I love most about holidays is being surrounded by loved ones. Being surrounded by love started early for me this year. I sat in my hammock chair on my son’s driveway watching people he loves trickle into the yard. His dear wife threw a party to celebrate his birthday. Despite the golden sun that was setting in a brilliant blue sky, the crisp autumn air had a chill to it. Children dodged the fire pit as they chased each other through leaves in the cul-de-sac; nobody cared that they had a fistful of cookies to munch on even though they had not yet eaten actual food. Delight beamed from my son’s face as he greeted folks ranging in age from one to 90.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News