Fowlie, Meredith, Walker, Reed, and Wooley, David “Climate Policy, Environmental Justice, and Local Air Pollution” (October 2020) (Revised version published in Brookings Economic Studies, October 2020) | WP-308R
This paper explores linkages between U.S. climate policy, environmental justice (EJ), and local air pollution. Policy proposals recently introduced by Democrats place EJ concerns at the heart of the climate policy agenda. To gain insight into how this policy imperative could be implemented, we draw lessons from recent legislative and regulatory experiences in California. In 2006, California began a path-breaking experiment to incorporate EJ concerns into an ambitious climate change mitigation agenda. We review this experience to date, noting some early pitfalls and subsequent course corrections. We argue that California’s joint implementation of an ambitious climate change policy agenda together with a targeted effort to mitigate inequities in both pollution exposure and policy participation could serve as a model for other jurisdictions.