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Realizing Equitable Community based Climate and Clean Energy Investments

This paper was presented at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. View the accompanying presentation here

The Justice40 Accelerator was created to radically reimagine the existing government resource delivery system as a restorative and reparative framework that better supports Black and historically disinvested communities of color. The Justice40 Accelerator was designed in response to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative that directs a whole-of-government effort to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to “disadvantaged communities.” Designed and implemented through a partnership of five climate solutions-focused organizations, the Justice40 Accelerator provides comprehensive support to community-based organizations to apply for and receive federal funding, as well as additional support, to implement community-led projects.

The Justice40 Accelerator’s inaugural cohort of 52 climate and environmental justice-focused organizations are demonstrating that 1) community-designed, community-led solutions are needed to address the climate crisis, 2) their community-designed projects are ready for implementation, and 3) these solutions will create sustainable jobs and thriving neighborhoods. As federal agencies, utilities, and energy professionals debate how to rapidly scale up decarbonization in an equitable manner, place-based initiatives are a viable, scalable, and necessary solution.

This paper will present the Justice40 Accelerator as a national model for capacity-building and developing a pipeline of community-designed and led projects. The authors will describe the Justice40 Accelerator model, its structure and financing, its initial successes and learnings, and recommendations for how energy efficiency and climate professionals, policymakers and philanthropy can support equitable climate and clean energy investments.

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