Advancing Equity through Climate Action

The Cleveland Climate Action Plan Racial Equity Tool can be used prior to making decisions related to policy, planning, programming, and budgeting within city government and other institutions looking to advance racial equity and shared prosperity. This blog explains how it was developed and used and how it might be able to help other organizations.




Over the course of the Cleveland Climate Action Plan 2018 Update (CAP), the City of Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability worked with partners  in the formation of an Equity and Engagement Sub-committee. This group made up of more than 20 organizations was instrumental in the development and use of this tool (please see the earlier blog here).  Over half of the nearly 100 stakeholders tied to the Climate Action Plan update completed racial equity trainings to do this work with a shared understanding. It is with this foundation of creating a shared understanding and confronting false perceptions that equity will begin to influence and be integrated into in the Cleveland Climate Action Plan. We would like to thank our partners at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the Racial Equity Institute for helping us create a mindset to address inequities relating to climate change and sustainability.



All 28 objectives and 107 actions in the final plan have been analyzed and discussed not only among the Equity and Engagement subcommittee but also during workshops with stakeholders spanning the focus areas of the plan (Clean Water and Vibrant Green Space, Sustainable Transportation, Energy Efficiency and Green Building, More Local Food and Less Waste, and Clean Energy). The use of this tool’s prompts (listed below) helped with the prioritization of objectives and actions that made it into the final plan. While all actions may not directly advance equity, many were kept because of their ability to reduce emissions. The best actions, however, accomplish both (Example actions include: Action #1 Make more homes affordable, comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient and Action #23, Reduce Food Waste and Hunger). The tool calls specific attention to five prompt areas:

  1. Language
  2. Accountability and Data
  3. Disproportional Impacts
  4. Economic Opportunity
  5. Neighborhood Engagement



The CAP Racial Equity Tool will serve as a foundation to guide decision-makers through the process of recognizing inequities, the conditions under which they thrive, and the possible solutions and environments that would mitigate negative effects and enhance positive results. While these discussions initially occurred under the Climate Action Advisory Committee, the intention is that use of the tool will expand and be adapted for further institutional use.



If interested in using the tool, below are a list of possible next steps for you or your organization:

  • Decide if Racial Equity Training is a resource you can access for yourself or your organization/work team.
  • Assemble a team or reach out to a potential partner/ally.
  • Download the tool.
  • Discuss the prompts (and how they could be changed to align with your work or projects).


Questions? Contact Erika Meschkat, Sustainability Manager, at [email protected]