Equity and Environmental Justice in Climate Solutions Webinar Series

This special webinar series explores how climate change affects low-income people, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, people of color and other people who are at increased risk due to climate change. In addition, presenters will suggest what is needed to prevent illness, disability, and death from climate change-related conditions among these and other Connecticut residents. Each webinar was held for one hour at noon each Thursday from September 10, 2020 through November 19, 2020. The general format was 30 minutes of presentation, 10 minutes of host-facilitated discussion, and 20 minutes of questions and answers with the audience. All sessions were recorded and links are available below.  

Webinar Speaker Biographies
Mapping Vulnerable Populations Webinar Speaker Biographies

September 10, Noon-1:00 pm  History of Environmental Justice and Racial Policies in Connecticut – Sharon Lewis, Executive Director, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice

This session will describe how historical and persistent systemic racist policies and practices have disadvantaged African American, Latinx, and Native American people in Connecticut and nationwide, and how this has led to the birth of environmental justice and climate justice movements. Webinar Recording

September 17, Noon- 1:00 pm  Social Determinants of Health Disparities and Energy Affordability ─ Orlando Velasco, Director, Health Equity Office, CT DPH, and Brenda Watson, Director, Operation Fuel

This session will describe how external environmental and social factors, including poverty and systemic racism, affect health status and energy access in climate justice communities.  The speakers will highlight the mismatch between needs and programs among this population. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

September 24, Noon- 1:00 pm  An Adaptation and Mitigation Framework for Climate-Vulnerable Populations in Connecticut – Dr. Mark Mitchell, Associate Professor of Climate Change, Energy, and Environmental Health Equity, George Mason University

This session will provide a broad overview of how the conditions discussed in previous sessions generally lead to a number of problems that will be discussed in more detail in following sessions. The presenters will show how some of the proposed solutions fit together and how to approach and prioritize them. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

October 1, Noon- 1:00 pm  Transportation and Climate Justice ─ Tony Cherolis, Director, Latino Center for Progress; Maria Cecilia Pinto De Moura, Union of Concerned Scientists; Taylor Mayes, Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs Transportation investment prioritized modes of transportation that are out of reach of a large percentage of the population. 

This priority leads to suburban sprawl, poor use of economic and land resources, poorer health, and increased global warming.  Our speakers will present on the need to promote public good rather than private access. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

October 8, Noon-1:00 pm  Energy Justice ─ Leticia Colon de Mejias, Energy Solutions, Eco Warriors

Even though all electric and gas customers pay into the energy efficiency and renewable energy funds, renters and people of low wealth are likely to have many more barriers to accessing these services, despite needing these services more than higher income people.  This presentation will explain what is needed to provide equitable access to energy efficiency and clean renewable energy for renters and people of low-wealth, while simultaneously improving their health. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

October 15, Noon-1:00 pm  EJ and the Urban Natural Environment ─ Chris Donnelly, Urban Forester

Urban centers are a balance between the built environment and the natural environment. Trees, soils, waterways and wetlands provide a number of eco-services in urban and non-urban areas, yet these services are often underappreciated and more difficult to maintain in cities. This session will discuss some of the common issues in urban areas that can be mitigated through nature-based solutions, as well as some of the unique challenges of providing these solutions. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

October 22, Noon -1:00 pm  Indigenous Approaches to Climate Change – Gerald Torres, Professor, Yale School of Environment

Indigenous perspectives on and approaches to the natural environment and climate change are substantially different from that in Western cultures. Our speaker will discuss how Native American tribes invoke the wisdom of Local, Traditional Knowledge (LTK), and perspectives to address climate change, as well as  the obstacles and benefits of their unique relationship to the U.S. and Connecticut governments to develop climate solutions. Webinar Recording

October 29, Noon-1:00 pm  Mapping Vulnerable Populations –Laura Johnson, Office Director, Environmental Public Health Sciences, Washington State Department of Health; Millie Piazza, Ph.D., Environmental Justice and Title VI Senior Advisor, Washington State Department of Ecology; Esther Min, Ph.D. candidate, University of Washington

Although there are people who are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in all parts of the state, due to historic and current social and racist policies, low-wealth individuals and, even more so, people of color are concentrated in certain parts of the state in areas that are historically underinvested.  These communities are at increased health, social and economic risk, which is being exacerbated by climate change.  In order to change these detrimental policies, we must identify and invest in these communities so that those who are most vulnerable to climate change for any number of reasons have an equal opportunity to thrive. Mapping provides a tool to identify and target resources to address these climate inequities. This session will describe these tools and how to use them. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

November 5, Noon- 1:00 pm  Addressing the Needs of Persons with Disabilities in Climate Planning ─ Marissa Rivera and Stephen Byers, Disability Rights Connecticut

If you are able-bodied, it is often difficult to perceive the barriers that need to be addressed for those who are disabled to become more resilient to the effects of climate change. This session will describe common disabilities and resources to help you plan to help disabled people to adapt to climate change at the state and local levels. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

November 12  Noon -1:00 pm  State Climate Justice Laws and Policies ─ Marianne Engelman Lado, Director, Yale Environmental Justice Clinic

Connecticut is not the first state to consider how to make climate policies more equitable for people of low-wealth and people of color.  In this session, our speakers will review relevant laws and policies in other states that might be adaptable to meet Connecticut’s needs. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

November 19, Noon – 1:00 pm  Intergenerational Climate Justice – Sena Wazer, Sunrise CT; Alex Rodriguez, CT League of Conservation Voters; Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, Young Voices for the Planet Youth Ambassador

Many of today’s youth will live into the next century.  We know that decisions made in the past jeopardize the future and that decisions being made today will have dramatic effects on the livability of the planet for centuries to come.  What do youth, especially youth of color, think about the effects of climate change on them and on future generations? How are they responding? What messages do they have for their parents’ and their grandparents’ generations?  This session will be a facilitated multi-racial panel discussion among several young people who are working on climate justice today. Presentation Slides | Webinar Recording

Content last updated December 2020