Last Friday, British Consul General Peter Abbott, in partnership with Mystic River Watershed Association, GreenRoots Chelsea, and Climable.org, hosted a Climate Equity Boat Ride through Chelsea Creek. Abbott got a first hand look at the effects climate change may pose on Environmental Justice Communities that line the Mystic River and Chelsea Creek like Charlestown, East Boston and Chelsea that are already overburdened with industry and pollution.
Historically, the Chelsea Creek has played host to oil and jet fuel storage facilities as well as other industrial uses. During the tour leading environmental activists shared the history of inequality in the area, but also pointed out the current partnerships and programming being done to benefit communities along the Chelsea Creek.
These partnerships aim to improve public health from pollution, adapt to sea-level rise, and engage in local communities.
During the tour Abbott highlighted workforce development opportunities and green jobs for local citizens, as well as discussions for future US-UK partnerships on climate.
“I’m standing in front of Boston Harbor, and I just came back from a boat trip with some folks to look at some of the environmental justice communities that live and work behind me on Boston Harbor, and in Chelsea Creek,” said Abbott after the boat tour. “Some of these communities are always hit first and worst by the effects of climate change. We’ve looked at some of the salt piles that are stored here that increased aspirates. We’ve looked at some of the jet fuel containers and heating oil containers that make these areas suffer some of the worst pollution levels in Massachusetts. it’s really been an inspiring trip to understand a little bit of bit more about some of the work that’s going on to help these communities mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and this is at the heart of what we’re trying to achieve in COP26 in Glasgow, making it one of the most inclusive climate conferences that we have seen yet. So we’re looking forward to keeping up that dialogue with these amazing groups here in Boston.”
COP26 will be the biggest summit ever hosted in the UK, with around 30,000 attendees expected. It’s been described by climate change experts as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement. That’s because COP26 is the first moment when countries must report back on their progress since the Paris Agreement and set out more ambitious goals for ending their contribution to climate change.
The state legislature recently passed a national-leading climate legislation known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill. The bill overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.
An amendment to the bill once and for all set criteria of what defines an environmental justice community based on race, income, and language-proficiency criteria. The amendment gives community members a much more meaningful role in the decision-making process about new projects that impact the environment and quality of life for thousands living here.
One key point of the amendment is something called cumulative impact rule. The cumulative impact rule must take into consideration environmental impacts new projects may have when weighted cumulatively with past projects that bear environmental burdens on Environmental Justice Communities.