The Environmental Justice Project

The Challenge

Climate change affects us all, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. Economic, social and political inequalities amplify the harms of climate change—for historically redlined neighborhoods that are more susceptible to hurricane flooding, for Native and Indigenous people whose lands are threatened by fossil fuel development or sea level rise, for farmworkers who breathe California’s wildfire smoke while growing the food that feeds us all, and for communities of color made more vulnerable to a global pandemic by the physical tolls of discrimination.

The Vision 

The Environmental Justice Project is a part of the One Climate Initiative’s vision for equitable, collectively formed and economically viable climate solutions. Building partnerships with Native and Indigenous people and nations, local governments, disadvantaged communities, industry leaders and multidisciplinary researchers, the Environmental Justice Project will inform public policy, support community empowerment, and prepare the next generation of environmental justice leaders. Our community-based, participatory approach prepares undergraduate and graduate students in STEM and humanities disciplines to conduct research engaged with issues of environmental justice—such as air quality and its health impacts, Indigenous-led ecosystem restoration, and sustainable water management. By partnering with research hubs across UC Davis to address the unequal burdens of environmental hazards, examining those effects on low-income communities and communities of color, and ensuring that diverse voices drive decisions, the Environmental Justice Project will light the path to sustainable well-being for society’s most vulnerable groups.

Regional Change, Global Impact

The Environmental Justice Project partners with the Center for Regional Change (CRC) to support research that fosters healthy, equitable, prosperous and resilient communities. Collaborating with grassroots groups, policymakers and other stakeholders to promote social equity and environmental sustainability, the CRC conducts participatory climate and environmental justice research to improve conditions for those overburdened by environmental hazards. The Center for Watershed Sciences collaborates with Native nations throughout California in protecting freshwater ecosystems. Researchers work with the Yurok and Pomo tribes to develop cold water refuges for native salmon and steelhead populations, and partner with the Yurok to collect data on the Klamath River before and after large dam removals. By partnering with the Institute of Transportation Studies, the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy, and the Energy and Efficiency Institute, researchers with the Environmental Justice Project advance technology and policy that benefit disadvantaged communities first and foremost. By engaging with local leaders, community organizations and government agencies, researchers gain valuable input on transportation and energy projects that can be used to direct resources to areas of greatest need.

Principle Investigator: Beth Rose Middleton Manning