Earth Day and Investment Justice
Today is Earth Day and this year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet.” To meaningfully address climate change, we must have a collective international political project rooted in an investment justice framework.
Such a framework needs to confront the structural inequities of the past and build the foundation for a just and sustainable future. This requires that we do more than acknowledge the seizure of land from indigenous communities and instead return land as part of a broader strategy to decommodify housing and remove land from the speculative market through the implementation of a Red New Deal.
As the second-largest source of current global greenhouse gas emissions, the United States needs to radically realign our investments in transportation, housing, and energy infrastructure. Unfortunately, recent federal investment programs, such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, continue to fund infrastructure that overwhelmingly supports cars instead of investing in rebuilding communities and meeting the mobility needs of all residents. Electrification of our transportation system is necessary but nowhere near sufficient to address the climate crisis. More electric cars can’t solve the problems we’ve created by building our communities around driving at the expense of other alternatives.
In 1990, Urban Habitat Founder Carl Anthony reflected on the meaning of Earth Day and noted, “…I believe that there are changes that take a long time to come [to fruition] but when they happen, they are big. Right now, the biggest challenge that we’re facing is global warming and climate change. And although the climate issue is unique, in some ways, it is still the same old thing. It’s about who’s in power, who makes the decisions, who [reaps] the benefits, and who bears the burden.”
In the next decade, the Bay Area will likely try to pass major regional housing and transportation funding measures. We will need build the power necessary to fight and ensure that these funding measures help dismantle the infrastructure that played a key role in creating the climate crisis. Any new funding needs to prioritize developing a low carbon infrastructure, creating green union jobs, and finally building the just and equitable communities that all Bay Area residents deserve.