Communities of color are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. As a resident of Mattapan and the District 4 Councilor, Andrea has seen first-hand the disproportionate impact of fossil fuel pollution and the effects the toxic agents released in our communities has on the health of children and families in the neighborhoods in her district, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Her leadership has always centered that experience. From the flooding on Morrissey Boulevard, higher pollution rates that have contributed to higher risks of COVID-19 and higher rates of asthma in children of color to disparities in tree canopy cover and access to greenspaces and parks, it is clear that we need a response to the climate crisis that is both urgent and equitable. Andrea knows that pollution and the climate crisis is a public health crisis and that the investments we need to make in resiliency and sustainability are opportunities to improve the health and economic well-being of our residents.
Climate change presents a fundamental opportunity to reshape our City equitably. Environmental justice is also economic justice. Our investments in efforts to make our City more resilient can create union jobs with livable wages and career pathways for historically underserved communities. We must prudently prepare for the inevitability of rising seas, stronger storms, and crippling heat waves. This will require a substantial investment in infrastructure and is an opportunity to make Boston a global leader in clean energy and resiliency, while also ensuring that we dismantle the structural racial and economic inequalities of our current fossil fuel economy. We need to expand our climate movement to ensure it feels accessible to residents who are most vulnerable, especially Black and Latino and Latinx communities.
Boston can be a national and global leader in reducing emissions, investing in green technology, and modeling how cities can center resiliency. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and those cities are responsible for over 70% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. Because our national leaders have largely ignored this crisis, Boston must rise up and show how cities can indeed address the climate crisis by engaging all communities including communities of color, and in a way that makes cities and local economies more resilient, equitable, and sustainable.
As Mayor, Andrea will:
Put Environmental Justice At The Center Of The Climate Fight
Low-income residents, BIPOC, immigrants, people with disabilities, and those with pre-existing medical conditions are the most at-risk populations from the devastating health and economic impacts of climate change. Solar panels, Teslas, and Silicon Valley technology are not the only solutions to combat climate change. We must do a better job meeting people where they are, and ensuring that the tangible benefits of change are felt by those who have historically been marginalized and disenfranchised. Addressing the impact of climate change will require the commitment of all residents. Therefore, decisions about climate change and its impact will include all residents in a culturally competent and multilingual manner.
- Ensure communities are protected from environmentally unjust projects. Andrea will continue to work with communities, especially communities of color and those most vulnerable to climate-related disasters, to ensure that projects being built in their communities are resilient, supported by the community, and do not further environmental inequities. Andrea will ensure that all infrastructure projects regardless of property value align with the City’s climate and resiliency priorities, including 5G expansion. Andrea will continue to take an active role in standing against projects like the East Boston substation that create disastrous environmental effects and health risks on a community, and ensure every neighborhood is adequately engaged in the process.
- Track and address environmental health metrics. We have known for decades about the disproportionate levels of exposure to lead, airborne particulates, and pollution in low-income communities in Boston. Chinatown has the worst air quality in Massachusetts while communities of color in our city face the highest exposure to pollution statewide. The COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed a catastrophic inequity in air quality. We must empower the Boston Public Health Commission to more fully track this data, publicly and clearly report the data regularly, so that the City can respond with data-driven solutions that invest in both environmental treatment and prevention. That tracking must include adequate air quality monitoring in all neighborhoods.
- Generate green dividends for residents. In addition to savings from more efficient City buildings and operations, residents deserve to share in the revenues generated by sound environmental policies. As Mayor, Andrea will work to ensure that revenues from State and Federal programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Transportation and Climate Initiative are directly reinvested in environmental justice communities. These dividends can take several forms: direct payments, direct investments, and indirect health and economic benefits. She will also advocate for State leaders to pass the Green Future Act to ensure more funding is available for the City to reach our climate action goals. Through work with Boston’s Federal delegation, Andrea will ensure that every Boston neighborhood benefits from climate and environmental funding initiatives soon to be released by the Biden-Harris Administration. As the Federal government works toward a green economic recovery, Andrea will position Boston as a national leader in this recovery and take advantage of Federal funding opportunities for infrastructure, resiliency and mitigation efforts including from stimulus funding and green infrastructure banks.
- Reinvigorate our greenspaces. Public greenspaces are fundamental to recreation, air quality, and healthy communities. Boston must maintain its treasured greenspaces and prepare them for the next century of extreme heat, storms, and changes in climate with public-private investment and clear maintenance accountability at the City level. Additionally, we must build more public greenspace in communities that have historically suffered from a lack of funding and access and intentionally create programming in our parks that is culturally competent. Every Boston resident should live within a 15 minute walk from a substantial public park or greenspace. Andrea will work with community partners to identify underutilized parcels and vacant lots that the City could transform into parks, community gardens, and sites for urban farming. She will seek to plant more trees in our neighborhoods and protect mature trees to combat the urban heat island effect, absorb more stormwater, and save residents money on electric bills.
Build Pathways To High-Quality Green Economy Jobs And Invest In Our Green Infrastructure
It is no secret that not everyone enjoys the same access to Boston’s strong medical, academic, and business sectors. Our future green economy cannot reflect those same disparities, and that will take a leader in City Hall who works every day to proactively combat those trends. The jobs generated, benefits created, and investments made in green infrastructure must be distributed with empowerment and equity in mind.
- Build equitable access to the green economy from the beginning. Resilient infrastructure will be the key to a more livable and sustainable City, but how we build it is equally important. Right now, just 1% of City contracts for construction and professional services go to women and minority-owned companies. That is unacceptable – our green investments must reach all of our communities. Under Andrea’s leadership, small businesses, including women and minority-owned businesses, and residents from every neighborhood will have access to these contracts and a budding green economy. Andrea will ensure jobs in the green economy are available to our residents through partnerships including with unions, Boston Public Schools, and vocational education providers to train our young people to be future leaders and innovators in environmental sciences, engineering, and resiliency. Andrea will expand “green-collar” training programs available in the City’s vocational schools and community colleges, expanding and scaling programs that are working like Roxbury Community College’s Center for Smart Building Technology, while working with unions to ensure City residents have access to the green jobs of the future. Andrea also supports the implementation of a Conservation Corps to ensure we have a dedicated and diverse green workforce and increased pathways to union careers.
- Transform Regional Rail. While progress has been made in recent years to increase service on the Fairmount Line, it is imperative that the City work with the State to transform our legacy “commuter” rail network into a regional rail network that serves the needs of a 21st century economy and fully electrify the corridor by 2024. Our commuter rail system is presently structured only to move suburban commuters in and out of Downtown Boston on a typical workday schedule, but a regional rail network will recognize how people work and live in the 21st century economy. This transformation will start with the Fairmount Line as it provides crucial rail service to long underserved communities. Andrea will forcefully advocate with our State and Federal delegation to dedicate funding for upgrades to the Fairmount Line, including electrification, that will increase service and improve reliability for passengers. Electrification will reduce emissions in the area while providing a shorter commute with greater flexibility and reliability. Andrea will also advocate for the State to transition the commuter rail fare system to one that sets a subway fare for all Boston stops. Sustainable transportation is key to environmental justice, and a more livable City.
- Invest in training a new transportation workforce. As technology changes, new jobs emerge. Boston can be a leader in autonomous vehicle research, development, and production, creating high quality jobs in the process. There are potentially thousands of jobs in other parts of the green economy, from the construction of bus and bike lanes and building world class bus rapid transit on our busiest corridors to expanding jobs in the micromobility sector. The green economy has the potential to be a game-changer for environmental justice communities – if we prioritize them. Andrea will connect innovative transportation companies with our Boston Public Schools, vocational education programs and community colleges to develop this workforce and ensure that the transportation revolution benefits environmental justice communities.
- Intentional inclusion. While the waterfront is the focus for sea-level rise, neighborhoods like Mattapan, East Boston, and Roxbury bear the brunt of air pollution, the urban heat-island effect, and associated health disparities. To address these disparities equitably, every neighborhood must have programs to address structural needs like greenspace resiliency, tree planting, stormwater management, traffic mitigation, home energy efficiency, and access to renewable energy sources like solar. As Mayor, Andrea will ensure that State programs like Mass Save benefit the communities who need this investment most and push the State to invest more in community solar programs. We also need to ensure that our investments in a more resilient and sustainable ity do not lead to the displacement of low-income residents, including creating more housing and homeownership opportunities that are affordable, planning development more equitably, and providing rental relief.
Make Climate Action, Sustainability, And Resiliency A Top Priority For Boston
As one of the largest property owners in Boston, the City itself has a moral obligation to utilize its unique footprint to set an example for emissions reductions. For every 1% reduction in annual municipal carbon emissions, City residents will see $600,000 in savings a year. As Mayor, Andrea will integrate climate resiliency metrics into all City departments and functions. Andrea is the kind of leader who will prioritize equitable environmental policy over ‘greenwashing,’ even when it is difficult to do so.
- Turn plans into action. Over the past several years, the City has commissioned nearly 40 different plans on the environment, yet less than 10% have been completed, and nearly half haven’t even begun implementation. The time for drafting and releasing plans is over – we must act now. That’s why we need a leader like Andrea who will prioritize environmental justice, invite thoughtful community participation, and overcome the institutional inertia that makes meaningful change so difficult.
- Lead by example. By leveraging the City of Boston’s budget, buildings, and assets, Andrea will make City government a leader in sustainability and emissions reductions. Right now residents are footing the bill for inefficient city buildings and vehicles, while the City is not taking full advantage of grants available from energy efficiency programs. There is great potential to reduce costs and environmental impacts through energy upgrades, more efficient boilers, installation of heat pumps, electric retrofits, use of passive energy standards, and modern materials in new construction and building renovations to greatly reduce those emissions and costs. These efforts can also improve building comfort and indoor air quality, making for a better and healthier working, learning, or living environment for occupants. Andrea will work with the State to meet an ambitious 100% renewable energy portfolio and full carbon neutrality for City operations by 2035, while continuing to explore how we can innovate and move up timelines and create interim goals. We cannot wait until 2050 to do our part in the global fight against climate change.
- Update Boston Public Schools. BPS emissions represent nearly half of the City’s total emissions. We must invest in our school buildings to improve learning environments, while also increasing access to greenspace, incorporating trees and permeable surfaces for stormwater management, improving building efficiency, and converting fossil fuel heating systems to renewable sources. Furthermore, the City should ban styrofoam from Boston Public Schools, and invest in compostable plastic alternatives as part of a wider effort to source sustainable materials for all operations.
- Electrify City vehicles. We can and must electrify all City vehicles as soon as possible to stop the disproportionate impact that fossil fuel emissions have on low-income communities. As Mayor, Andrea will work with the MBTA to ensure that it expands its fleet of electric buses while prioritizing electrification of key bus routes that cut through neighborhoods with poor air quality, higher rates of asthma, and other health disparities. Under Andrea’s leadership, BPS would become the first large school district in the country to fully electrify our bus fleet. Andrea will work to electrify not just small City vehicles but also large vehicles including utility trucks, waste trucks and street cleaning equipment, while working to ensure that electricity is sustainably sourced.
- Create meaningful transparency and accountability for results. As Mayor, Andrea will create a Climate Commission that meets regularly following public meeting guidelines, to receive regular updates from departments across the City working towards these goals. This will include an annual State of the Climate meeting that brings together leaders from across Boston to share progress and commit to future action. The Climate Commission will include environmental justice leaders from across the City who witness the devastating impact of climate change on their health and well-being each day.
- Implement strategies to reduce waste. Increased household waste production during the pandemic and international restrictions placed on recyclable materials have made it more important than ever to implement bold residential, commercial, and institutional strategies to reduce solid waste. Recognizing that 78% of solid waste comes from Boston’s businesses and institutions, Andrea will work closely with Boston’s business community to expand commercial and institutional recycling and composting. She will enact an event-based recycling plan for all large-scale events and festivals and incentivize the reduction of plastic use. Andrea will make residential waste reduction a priority and a reality for all Bostonians by expanding access to community composting to every neighborhood, introducing curbside composting as a City service, and increasing access to hazardous waste disposal events.
Improve Air Quality By Reducing Traffic And Transportation Emissions
We know from the 2019 Carbon Free Boston report that about 2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases are emitted on an annual basis from travel in and out of our City, with three-quarters of the City’s GHG emissions coming from passenger vehicles. In order to address the climate crisis meaningfully, we need to cut down emissions while ensuring our residents can be connected across neighborhood lines. This requires more proactive planning from the City to ensure that every neighborhood has access to quality and affordable public transit, and multi-modal transit corridors that are safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
- Incentivize alternative modes of transportation. While COVID has reduced public transportation ridership and pushed more people into cars, it has also shown us that our long-term collective respiratory health must be addressed. Driving a car in the City should not be the only reliable choice. We should take steps to provide quality public transportation alternatives to driving and make sure Bostonians wealthy enough to drive are paying the full cost of that choice. This includes charging accurate prices for parking on public space that account for environmental, societal, and opportunity costs, and congestion pricing for delivery vehicles during peak commuting hours to encourage public transportation use. Andrea supports an increase in fees for single-occupancy TNC rides and would designate similar new revenues to improve public transportation, public greenspace, and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. For those that feel like they currently have no choice but to drive to get to work or drop kids at school – we can invest in a City where this is possible by bus, train, foot, or bike.
- Improve public transportation options. As Mayor, Andrea will be a leading voice pushing State leaders to improve public transportation in the City of Boston. As the largest City in New England, the ability for Bostonians to move around the region efficiently should be treated as an economic and environmental priority for the State government. Expanding bus routes and designating faster bus lanes should be given as much priority as increasing train service. Providing all residents with a viable public transit option will reduce traffic, improve air quality, and increase access to opportunity. Andrea supports recent State efforts to raise revenue for investments in transportation through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). As Mayor, she will advocate for State leaders accountable for their commitment to invest 35% of TCI revenues on improving transit options in environmental justice communities while pushing them to increase this investment to 40% of revenue in line with commitments made by the Biden-Harris Administration.
- Envision a 15-minute City. With City-led investments, intentional zoning, and ambitious mixed-used development partnerships, we can build a City where residents have everything they need – grocery stores, schools, parks, restaurants and a wide-range of small businesses – within 15 minutes of their doorsteps. This concept is globally renowned as the gold standard of climate action because it cuts commutes, reduces reliance on fossil fuels, and improves the health of residents and the environment alike by investing in the fabric and interconnectedness of our communities. Together, we can achieve a greener future, and secure more sustainable, healthy lives for our children.
- Prioritize walkable neighborhoods. Every neighborhood deserves thriving walkable pedestrian areas, safe crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and wide, accessible sidewalks. Andrea will build on successful efforts to revitalize both downtown and our main streets by investing in infrastructure that reduces traffic, making more streets pedestrian only, working with small businesses to function in a way that promotes commerce while cutting emissions. She will lead the charge on expanding bike lane networks, pedestrian paths, and active alternatives to driving. Everyone benefits from fewer cars cutting through our neighborhood streets. To make all neighborhoods more walkable and reduce heat islands, Andrea will invest in the City’s tree canopy to reverse the long-term decline in tree cover in our low-income neighborhoods by not only committing to build more trees, but also protect our mature tree canopy and existing natural assets.
- Expand access to electric vehicle charging. Owning an electric vehicle should not be exclusive to those fortunate enough to have access to off-street parking. For those residents who do own a car, the City should expand access to on-street electric vehicle charging, allowing renters to access EVs and reduce their carbon footprint.
Move Quickly Towards More Sustainable Housing And Development
Buildings account for nearly two-thirds of emissions in Boston. The technology exists now to increase appliance efficiency, reduce fossil fuel reliance, and ensure that new development is helping us combat climate change, not increasing our vulnerability.
- Require environmental impact reporting. Every new development in Boston over 5,000 square feet should be required to file an environmental impact report early in the development process, including the efficiency of its envelope and energy systems, projected energy usage, and direct impacts to natural assets. Especially for large commercial developments, it is important that we are offsetting negative impacts by investing in greenspace, more electric capabilities, and passive energy standards. The City can and should use building and zoning codes to encourage usage of sustainable materials and energy sources to ensure all new construction is green, and revise the way we think about land use to not pit environmental justice against development both of which support new infrastructure and the public good including housing.
- Invest in resiliency measures to protect our neighborhoods. In Boston, sea levels have already risen over a foot and a recent report from the World Bank ranked Boston the eighth most vulnerable City to climate change related flooding in the world. Meanwhile, our summers will become unbearably hot, hurricanes will become more frequent, inland flooding has started, and storms will become stronger. We need to ensure that we are protecting vulnerable communities and building public-private partnerships and community input processes to build a resiliency plan of action for every neighborhood in the City that we can proactively implement.
- Allow for more transit-oriented development. Not just how we build, but where we build is key to a resilient City. By promoting transit-oriented development through incentives and accountability measures, we can reduce the amount of parking necessary, cutting emissions, creating multimodal corridors that reduce congestion and increase safety in car-dependent areas, and building in new riders for our public transportation systems. Encouraging this type of smart growth, while ensuring that these housing options are affordable for our communities, is what will prepare us for responsible population growth, fueling our economy in a sustainable way.
- Invest in retrofitting. Andrea plans to expand programs that give low-income residents access to affordable clean energy alternatives, address energy insecurity in low-income communities, and invest in the reliability of the grid as we continue to see more extreme weather. The city should help to make solar panels and energy efficiency upgrades, including heat pumps, more efficient boilers, better unsultation, and electronic appliances, accessible to all residents by partnering in procuring them for our most vulnerable homeowners, renters, and small independent landlords. Equitable access to the technology that will help mitigate the costs and risks associated with hotter summers and major storms is central to making Boston a place where residents of all backgrounds can thrive. Andrea will work with the State to expand access to programs offered by MassCEC and others that fund retrofitting, and will create incentives for property owners to improve efficiency in their rental properties in order to lower costs for renters and improve housing quality.
- Expand energy storage capacity. Massachusetts is a national leader in energy efficiency and energy storage. As Mayor, Andrea will ensure that these nation-leading innovations are incorporated into new buildings across the City by incentivizing new construction to include energy storage, leveraging existing State programs to benefit Boston residents, and continuing to increase good, union jobs with a living wage for residents.
Andrea has been a proactive leader for equity her entire professional life, pushing to make Boston a more just and fair place for all residents. She has experienced firsthand the painful inequities in health, housing, and opportunity created in part by government, and understands the realities of intergenerational poverty many Boston families have experienced. As Mayor, Andrea will ensure that our City is a global leader in addressing the climate crisis and that the communities that are most impacted will be centered. Andrea knows that though the challenge is immense, this is also an opportunity to build a brighter future for all of our children, create equitable access to jobs in our neighborhoods, make transformative investments in resiliency, and create a more healthy, sustainable City for all. Through Andrea’s vision and leadership, Boston can meet this moment and ensure a better quality of life and healthier future for all our residents.