‘Climate Equity Collaborative’: GM co-founds initiative focusing on the just transition

Image: GM

Called the ‘Climate Equity Collaborative’, the initiative’s other co-founder is the US’s largest nonprofit focused on nature conservation, the National Wildlife Federation. GM will be the anchor corporate funder while the Federation is acting as convenor, given its existing contacts in the private and public sectors and the US’s policymaking space.

The Collaborative is also being supported by a range of non-profits, including WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the Children’s Environmental Health Network and the Community and College Partners Program.

A priority for the Initiative will be to create new climate equity spaces and services for communities across the US that are “hit first and worst” by the physical impacts of the climate crisis. Existing spaces will also be expanded. The participating non-profits will host these events and services.

In vulnerable communities, the Initiative will also provide education on developing and implementing climate solutions in an equitable way. Leadership training will be on offer for those wishing to play a key role in delivery and in engaging with their communities.

A roadmap for delivering these priority actions will be drawn up in the coming months by GM and the National Wildlife Federation.

GM is donating $1m to the Collaborative in the first instance. The money is coming from its Climate Equity Fund, which was doubled to $50m last year following the company’s confirmation of a 2040 carbon-neutral commitment covering operations and product use. The Fund’s primary focus, aside from supporting community climate action in the most affected communities, is on an equitable transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

“Too often, the people and communities most vulnerable to climate change are left out of conversations that impact their lives,” said GM’s chief sustainability officer Kristen Siemen.

Siemen, also the firm’s vice-president for sustainable workplaces, added: “We’re proud to be a founding member of the Climate Equity Collaborative, and we invite other companies to join us in this movement to take stronger, more inclusive action on climate change.”

The US’s climate frontlines

In a year when extreme weather events across the world have dominated headlines, several parts of the US have been affected. The Centre for Disaster Philanthropy started its North American Wildfires profile early this year following major blazes in California and Colorado. Collectively, these fires are estimated to have burned at least 1,500 acres.

Spring and summer then saw major fires recorded in New Mexico, Arizona and California, including in Yosemite National Park. There was also a major fire on the California-Oregon border in July.

Elsewhere, C40 Cities’ latest global analysis of water risks, published in June, revealed that the participating city in which river flooding costs are currently the highest on a per-capita basis is New Orleans ($189 per person, per year) These costs could skyrocket to $484 per person, per year, by 2050. New Orleans is also currently the C40 city taking the worst financial hit from coastal flooding.

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