In 2006, Californians celebrated the passage of the first comprehensive climate change law in the nation, the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). One of the goals of AB 32 is to ensure that low-income and minority communities are strengthened by efforts to tackle the climate crisis. SB 535 (De León) and AB 1532 (Pérez), signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2012, fill in this gap by creating a Communities Healthy Air Revitalization Trust to direct a portion of the revenues generated from AB 32 to help Californians who are least able to confront the expected effects of the climate crisis at a local level.
As California works to solve our climate crisis, we must invest in the neighborhoods that have suffered the most and will struggle the most. Without requiring new revenue, SB 535 & AB 1532 will accomplish this. Polluted neighborhoods can utilize generated resources through SB 535 & AB 1532 by, for example:
Implementing emissions reduction programs
Preempting effects of heat waves
Preparing for floods and fires
Improving quality of life through job training and transit improvements and subsidies
The effects of climate change have already brought California increasing episodes of extreme heat, air pollution, drought, floods, and violent and unpredictable weather, all of which can lead to increased incidents of disease and other problems. SB 535 & AB 1532 ensure equal protection for all Californians, including those in the most impoverished communities, from these devastating impacts of climate crisis.
Many Californians are unfairly burdened by harmful air quality and chronic respiratory illness because polluting industries and transportation corridors are concentrated in poorer neighborhoods. The effects of global warming threaten to saddle these neighborhoods with additional burdens such as increased air pollution, heat waves, droughts, and job loss. 4.6 million Californians earn income below the federal poverty level. An estimated majority of them live in neighborhoods facing the biggest burdens associated with global warming, such as severe air pollution.