April 19, 2024

In recent years, the phrase “climate justice” has been thrown into the mainstream climate movement narrative. However there’s still so much confusion about what this means. 

What exactly are climate justice solutions?

At its core, climate justice solutions address the root causes of the climate crisis – racism, colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism. Solutions that overlook social and systemic conditions perpetuate the very structures that created the climate crisis to begin with. When implemented mindfully, climate justice solutions can simultaneously address climate and tackle broader social justice concerns – like developing affordable, clean energy-powered housing for low-income communities.

The Solutions Partnered with Isaias Hernandez of QueerBrownVegan to help explain this issue more

Communities of color–Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and others–have demonstrated that it’s possible to combat carbon emissions and pollution while advancing equity and justice. They have been bearing the brunt of the climate crisis the longest, and therefore have the deepest insights into what is needed, and what will work. If we want solutions that will have lasting impact, they  should come from the ground up. This is precisely what The Solutions Project’s grantee partners are accomplishing.

Our partners operate at the grassroots level, driving a just transition to a green and regenerative economy. The range of climate justice solutions are as diverse as the communities they benefit, encompassing everything from rural electric cooperatives and resistance against fossil fuel infrastructure to regenerative farming. Across our grantee network, The Solutions Project is actively documenting frontline climate justice solutions.

climate justice solar panel

Ho’ahu Energy Cooperative Molokai, Photo by The Years Project

Our grantee partners are developing transformative solutions  in energy, water, and food systems that lay the groundwork for a regenerative economy:

  • In Northeast Houston, communities of color faced increased flooding and pollution due to neglected drain ditches. West Street Recovery led efforts with other groups to push the city to act. In June 2023, Houston committed $20 million to improve drainage, protecting residents from flooding, reducing exposure to industrial waste, and addressing health risks like mosquito-borne illnesses.
  • UPROSE, a Latino organization in Brooklyn, has successfully secured public and private investments for community-led economic development focused on manufacturing wind energy. After years of advocacy and organizing, UPROSE’s vision for the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal is becoming a reality. This transformation will turn the industrial waterfront into a hub for offshore wind turbines, generating thousands of jobs and powering over a million homes in New York.
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, La Maraña pioneered a model for community-led disaster recovery, emphasizing the inclusion of local voices in designing and planning projects focused on water, food, energy, and resilience. By empowering community members with the tools to transform their ideas into actionable designs, La Maraña is envisioning and constructing a brighter, more sustainable future for Puerto Rico.
  • The Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) in Oakland played a pivotal role in drafting the legislation for state-funded Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program. This initiative aims to install solar power on low-income rental buildings across California, benefiting around thousands of families. It’ll also provide financial support and educational resources to tenants, reduce air pollution, and lower utility bills for communities.
climate justice

La Maraña

Our grantee partners use power-building strategies such as community organizing, policy advocacy, community and economic development, integrated voter engagement, arts and culture, education, and direct services. They organize and build multi-racial, immigrant, intergenerational, and worker coalitions, many of which have been serving their communities for decades.

Frontline communities possess the lived experiences, knowledge, and expertise needed to drive meaningful, systemic change that benefits everyone. By investing in these grassroots organizations—bolstering their capacity to develop, analyze, replicate, and scale solutions—we can accelerate the pace of change and foster public policy innovations at all levels.

Equitable community-centered climate solutions offer the only viable path to creating lasting transformation change. 

The solutions exist, and frontline communities are leading the way.