Robust transportation leads to justice for all

Why transportation equity is needed for climate justice

Transportation equity and climate justice go hand and hand. A society wanting to solve the climate crisis must address both critical concerns to achieve climate action.

In her book Inclusive Transportation, Veronica O. Davis discusses learning the connection between communities and transportation. Davis’s eloquent book links the impacts of how subpar transportation planning favouring automobiles over citizens negatively impacts communities of colour and low-income neighbourhoods economically, socially and environmentally. Davis stresses the importance of redefining what equity is, including capacity building and building communities where it’s affordable and safe for residents to bike and walk, and use public transportation to destinations.

In an interview on a November edition of my UMFM show “Not Necessarily The Automobile,” Davis said transportation equity plays an important role in accessing necessities like health care.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cripps, in her book What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care, says climate change has a harder impact on developing countries, people of colour and lower-income communities than wealthier countries and neighbourhoods. CBC News reported that developing countries will need $215 billion to $387 billion annually until 2030 to help adapt to climate change.

A warming planet in cities will impact racialized people, women and lower-income communities. Elderly people are also disproportionately affected, especially if they live in older neighbourhoods facing higher concerns of lack of energy-efficient housing and limited cooling stations during extreme weather events.

As Cripps writes, “Climate harm is about lack of privilege. It hurts those already disadvantaged worst of all.”

Climate justice is a transportation issue. Underprivileged areas are most affected by the need to to find active transportation or safe, reasonably priced and frequent public transit service to meet their needs. In Winnipeg, low-income people, people with disabilities and women are more likely to take public transit, walk or cycle to their destination than drive a car.

Climate justice is a transportation issue as climate change will cause the worst headaches for those whose footprint was the smallest, thanks to extreme heat waves and torrential rainfall impacting public transit service and the local active transportation network.

So, how can we work towards an inclusive transportation system that strives for climate justice?

We can strive for improved community engagement on transportation projects. Davis told me in our talk on “Not Necessarily The Automobile” that community stakeholder meetings need to be as accessible as possible, going into communities to ensure diverse community views are shared.

Supporting more diverse voices in local groups is also crucial. Jody Wilson-Raybould said in True Reconciliation that reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples should go beyond words and take action.

Encouraging local active and public transportation advocacy groups to reach out to various immigrant and Indigenous groups and supporting BIPOC communities is a start to ensuring diverse voices are heard in Winnipeg public and active transportation advocacy. At the same time, trust, leadership and new alliances are forming between environmentalists and groups most impacted by climate change.

Cripps argues individualism is not the best way to address climate change.

“Climate change is a collective problem; it needs a collective solution. Anything else is inefficient, unfair, and ineffective,” she said.

Instead, Cripps suggests collective action ranging from fossil fuel divestments to pensions, nonviolent protests and supporting and voting for candidates who support addressing climate action. From a Winnipeg perspective, collective action could mean deepening coalition building to support diverse candidates in all levels of elections who will support equitable public transit services while addressing mature neighbourhoods that are not left behind when building our active transportation network.

Supporting transportation equity means climate justice. Without either, there are no just transportation systems or climate action.

Adam Johnston hosts “Not Necessarily The Automobile” Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. on UMFM 101.5. He can be reached at