Combating climate change must be equitable and sustainable.

Climate change has altered the everyday reality of communities across the globe, and Harris County is no exception. More frequent and severe storms and floods, as well as extreme temperatures, have highlighted the need to upgrade critical infrastructure and change the way we approach environmental challenges.

The reality is that our low-income communities and communities of color are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

This is often because these communities are located in areas that lack basic protections due to decades of neglect and lack of investment. It’s important we take a holistic approach to address these issues by considering everything from the long-term effects of climate change to proper and equitable infrastructure investments in flood mitigation, green space, and other community needs.

Beyond major storms and higher temperatures, climate change disrupts many aspects of daily life. It can threaten air quality and deplete the water supply, exacerbate food shortages, and push people from their homes. These effects are heightened in vulnerable communities that may already suffer from pollution, food insecurity, and high housing costs.

We are pushing to make sure infrastructure improvements and relief are provided based on the people – not the property – impacted.

For years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has used a formula to allocate funds that prioritized property values over the number of people impacted. At Precinct One, we have worked to change this misguided policy to make sure we’re putting people first. This includes helping to secure a $2.5 billion bond that will fund flood control projects in a way that prioritizes areas with the highest risk, not the highest property value. At the same time, we’re working with our local, regional, and state partners to ensure new projects and funding opportunities take into account the intersection between environmental policy and social policy.

Our region is also one of the biggest producers of carbon pollution in the country, and we know reducing carbon emissions is essential to combatting climate change. In 2023, Commissioners Court approved a Climate Action Plan focused on reducing carbon emissions from county operations by 40 percent by 2030. We know that more needs to be done, which is why the county is working with communities to develop a Climate Justice Plan that equitably engages and empowers vulnerable communities to be prepared for and protected from the harms of climate change.

Climate action strategies must include mitigating inequality and fostering resiliency in low-income, vulnerable communities that will otherwise suffer the worst effects of climate change. Together, we will put forward climate solutions that protect the planet and uplift marginalized communities.