The U.S. People-Centered Transitions aims to address the environmental justice, equity and just transition issues arising from the shift to a low-carbon economy, and the legacy pollution and climate impacts that have disproportionately affected marginalized and underserved communities.

If the shift to a low-carbon economy fails to address or include the communities most impacted, it will perpetuate existing inequalities and injustices. Marginalized groups — such as low-income, Indigenous, rural and communities of color — will continue to bear the brunt of environmental degradation and climate change, while also facing economic displacement. Workers in fossil fuel industries will suffer from job losses without adequate support or opportunities for transition. This exclusion risks deepening social and economic disparities, undermining the goals of environmental justice and just transition, and compromising the overall effectiveness of climate action.

To ensure the low-carbon transition protects the planet, nature and the country’s most vulnerable citizens, the needs of marginalized communities must be at the forefront of policy research, analysis and programs. We support and partner with environmental justice, equity and just transition stakeholders at the national, local and community levels so our work is informed by those most impacted. Together, we seek to advance programmatic recommendations that will address the climate, economic and environmental injustices that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations and create more resilient communities for all.

Our team conducts qualitative and quantitative research that integrates the principles of distributional and procedural justice — while actively engaging with various environmental justice and just transition stakeholders including community-based organizations and unions — to ensure our work is inclusive, transparent, and impactful. This work includes:

  • Examining how cities and communities can effectively implement federal climate infrastructure projects to ensure equitable distribution of benefits and resources through the Justice40 Initiative
  • Researching the impact of biofuels expansion on the climate, environment, economy, and communities across 12 states in the Midwest, and leveraging this knowledge toward key biofuels policymaking opportunities
  • Advancing the effectiveness of environmental justice screening and mapping tools 
  • Providing a platform for environmental justice and just transition experts and practitioners to discuss critical and relevant research, programs and initiatives, and to interact with federal agency leaders
  • Assessing the impacts of the electric vehicle transition on the automotive and adjacent industries’ workers, and developing new research, data and tools to help key EV stakeholders such as employers, unions, educational institutions, and policymakers address workforce challengesand maximize opportunities in a clean energy economy
  • Exploring, with a coalition of partners, how community benefits agreements and other types of community benefit frameworks can empower communities and lead to an inclusive and equitable energy transition 
  • Undertaking research on a just transition pathway for oil refinery workers and communities, and developing a transition plan that is informed by impacted workers, communities and other key stakeholders
  • Assessing the definition and meaning of “energy communities” and what forms of support they require throughout the clean energy transition

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