What we learned at the 2021 Assembly
This year, PCL’s California Environmental Assembly had one goal in mind: to encourage conversations about how California can rebuild. The past four years of the Trump Administration have been a big setback in terms of environmental and environmental justice policy. Swaths of regulations written to protect human and environmental values had been overturned. As the new administration begins its work this year, we have a unique opportunity to propose radical environmental policy fixes that will move California in achieving its climate, biodiversity, housing, and equity goals. As such, we invited experts from across California to share their vision for the future and plans for how to get there.
What we found was that, unsurprisingly, the environmental situation in California is dire. From the decline of fisheries and biodiversity in the state to the predictions that wildfires will become more severe and frequent due to climate change, there is no time to act like the present. However, wildlife is not the only one affected by the environmental crisis. People, specifically those who are a part of disadvantaged communities, also face problems caused by poor stewardship of environmental resources, such as lack of safe and clean drinking water, little access to parks and green spaces, and displacement due to natural disasters.
The Assembly discussion did not just dwell on the problems but instead focused on the solutions. We asked all of our panelists in advance to share their vision for the future with the audience. The result was a plethora of suggestions for both long-term and short-term solutions. Our panelists imagined a world where affordable housing was available for all due to rent control, sustainable and non-racist land use, and community-driven legal aid. They described what a world would look like if disaster planning started way before the disaster struck and included building strong community support, where the government took assertive action to protect fisheries, where we could provide clean energy without affecting conservation goals, and where disadvantaged communities were protected against climate change impacts and were provided with safe drinking water. We dared to dream of a planet where 30% of its lands, rivers, and oceans were protected and where biodiversity was protected, all communities had equal access to nature, and where wilderness areas were managed with the goal of long-term sustainability in mind.
The Assembly may be over but our work is not yet finished. Our job now is to see these solutions come to life and ensure that California comes back stronger than before and is ready to lead the nation towards creating better conditions for humans, the environment, and wildlife. As we work towards creating this better world, we invite you to be a part of this movement. Visit PCL’s policy watchlist website (pcl.org/watchlist) to learn about our policy work at the Capitol and how you can get involved. Learn more about the solutions proposed at the Assembly by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to get access to the Assembly recordings. Help PCL work to achieve the proposed Assembly solutions by donating at pcl.org/donate. And finally, stay tuned for the 2022 Assembly and for PCL possibly bringing back the webinars later this year.