Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice in Clean Energy

Having access to clean energy is a basic right that all people should be afforded.

Our work at Clean Energy Group (CEG) is focused on ensuring this right by enabling and accelerating a just transition to clean energy. To achieve this outcome, the clean energy transformation must be inclusive, responsive, equitable and just, and informed by diverse perspectives.

The advancement of clean energy technology, infrastructure, policy, and programs will continue to perpetuate systemic oppression experienced by many people, unless dedicated efforts are made to learn, evolve, and improve. Specifically, marginalized communities—particularly Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities—will not only continue to bear the brunt of the environmental, health, and economic harm from fossil fuel infrastructure and the climate crisis, but they will also continue to be harmed by the processes used to transition to clean energy.

For example:

  • Marginalized communities lack equitable access to clean energy incentives, financing, programs, and infrastructure.
  • Marginalized communities lack agency and resources to fully participate in policy forums or rulemaking that determine their own clean energy future.
  • Marginalized communities face economic harm and job loss during clean energy transitions that do not have an economic transition plan.
  • Structural oppression leads to marginalized communities having fewer options to opt in or out of particular energy infrastructure.
  • Tools used to further clean energy (like eminent domain and economic incentives for installing clean energy) sometimes result in land loss and exacerbate environmental harm for marginalized communities.

As a result, those who have most directly benefited from the clean energy transition have primarily been wealthy, white communities, perpetuating existing inequities caused by limited access by Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities to clean energy technologies, financing, and local ownership.

We have the ability to chart a new course for the transition to clean energy and to address the myriad threats from climate change. We recognize that the current climate crisis is inextricably linked to the harms caused by colonialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, ableism, and other systems of oppression, meaning systems that were built to willfully disadvantage groups of people based on their shared identity and to intentionally benefit a group of people based on a shared identity.

As we continue our work toward a clean energy future and diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) principles, CEG as an organization acknowledges that we may have unintentionally been complicit in reinforcing structural oppression through both our internal culture and in our project activities, in part because of the narrowness of the organization’s mission as well as a lack of diversity in staff and leadership. The lack of a diversity of perspectives and the failure to focus on bringing the benefits of clean energy to marginalized communities has resulted in an unfair and inequitable level of benefits accruing to mostly privileged communities.

We have a responsibility to continually evolve as an organization. As we continue to deepen our understanding and commitment to DEIJ, we know that if we do not intentionally commit to DEIJ, we risk replicating harmful systems and harms of the past into the future.

A successful clean energy transition mandates that we address the structural oppression that has not only harmed marginalized communities, but also has accelerated the climate crisis. The interconnected nature of social and environmental issues is not a new concept. We believe that building a more effective clean energy movement means that all stakeholders (i.e., partners, staff, board members, community members, and associates) feel a sense of belonging and common purpose, as we work toward a culture of reciprocity and build upon each other’s efforts.

Our Commitments to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Building communities of purpose to engage in procedural justice. Our work relies upon building communities of informed leaders, and our mission can only be accomplished in partnership with others. When it comes to energy justice, we are far from the first to understand the need for and work toward clean energy for all. Therefore, our role is not to reinvent the wheel, but instead to use our unique position to connect communities, organizations, and agencies to each other, to the right resources, and to essential information so that we can build on the foundations that energy justice advocates have established and collectively build a more powerful movement.

We commit to equitable community engagement and instituting procedural justice to create a clean energy future for all. Equitable community engagement means that we build on, amplify, and elevate the efforts of energy justice movement leaders and community-based organizations so they are equal partners, and we center the needs of those most impacted in our shared work. Procedural justice means that the process itself is equitable and driven by those closest to the work.

Building a more inclusive and equitable organization. We have an opportunity to build a clean energy movement with fewer barriers to entry and where all feel a sense of belonging. In addition to building an equitable and just clean energy future, CEG can play a role in addressing the barriers to working in the clean energy movement, starting with our organizational culture and structure.

We commit to reducing barriers to a career in clean energy and to building an inclusive and equitable organization by learning about and addressing any past harm we may have unwittingly caused, and providing an organizational culture and internal structures that make staff and board members feel a strong sense of belonging. We commit to creating a connected and collaborative culture so that we can build trust, have courageous conversations, be creative, and be our true selves.

Strengthening an equitable and just clean energy movement. Not only should the clean energy movement welcome those who want to be actively involved, but the movement should also amplify and center the needs, voices, and values of those most impacted by energy injustice. As a convenor and conduit for providing information, advocating for policy, and implementing clean energy programming, CEG has a responsibility to include the voices, needs, and values of those who are most impacted by both energy injustice and our work.

We commit to applying an equity and justice lens to all of our mission work. Specifically, this means that we commit to building a clean energy future for all by advancing programs, policy platforms, financing, and clean energy technologies that address the programmatic, political, economic, and technical barriers to equitable clean energy development and ownership and that we commit to centering the needs of those most impacted by injustice and inequities by working to equitably distribute funding, technical assistance, education, information about clean energy technologies, and any other CEG resources, to benefit energy justice movement leaders and those most impacted.