This April, as temperatures warm and Earth Day draws near, we reflect on how people in all communities, regardless of income or race, deserve clean air and healthy environments. Instead, people in our communities have lived with the toxic legacies of pollution and environmental injustice as they face the increasing effects of climate change.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that Black people are three times more likely to die from air pollution than white people. Our most vulnerable communities are those facing the greatest environmental risks, with Black, Brown, and low-income neighborhoods often the targets of landfills, chemical plants, and pollution-causing businesses. These communities are also the most vulnerable during a climate crisis, suffering from historical and present-day injustices that leave them susceptible to natural disasters.
Harris County took a critical step in the global fight against climate change by adopting the County’s internal Climate Justice Action Plan. This plan focuses on reducing the County’s environmental footprint by:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% across buildings and facilities by 2030.
- Reducing electricity usage by 5% per year.
- Increasing our number of hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Reducing 50% of our landfilled waste from County operations by 2030.
Changing internal county operations is only the first step in paving the way for an external countywide strategy. We’re just getting started. This is about a broader fight for climate justice for the communities most vulnerable to climate change. We want to help plant the seeds for a greener, cleaner, and safer Harris County, and that can only be done by listening to our community’s needs.