Climate Justice Initiative

people holding sign that says 'climate justice initiative'


Happening Now

The Climate Justice Initiative explores and defines Climate Equity with the City’s frontline community members; those most directly affected by climate change impacts identified in the City’s Climate Resilience Assessment. In collaboration with these voices the Office is shaping a locally relevant understanding of Climate Equity. This framework will help the city incorporate community recommendations and perspectives through a newly developed Climate Justice Screening Tool to prioritize Climate Equity in city projects and initiatives.

In April 2020 The Office of Sustainability entered into a contract with Marisol Jiménez of Tepeyac Consulting. Tepeyac conducted listening and learning sessions with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders and community members. Here is a summary of the listening and learning sessions in English and here is the summary in Spanish.

In an effort to identify communities within the city that are exposed to climate risks the City developed the Climate Justice Data Map; layering different compounding social and climate threats. Following the listening and learning sessions Tepeyac expanded community engagement around climate justice and equity with story circles in selected neighborhoods through the use of the data map.

Current work includes ongoing Story Circle conversations, individual City staff leadership interviews, Climate Justice Screening Tool development, and a youth engagement collaboration project in partnership with Tepeyac Consulting and Youth Artists Empowered. In this youth-centered work, local artists and climate educators are working with young artists of color to explore topics of climate change, justice, and equity and to document and record their observations through their art. A final collaborative installation will take place in January 2022.



In January 2020 Asheville City Council declared a Climate Emergency. Resolution 20-25 states that a Climate Justice Plan be created to consolidate the various separate sustainability goals and department initiatives. The adopted resolution acknowledges the urgent need to combat climate change, the many existing relevant resolutions and goals, and the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on low income communities and communities of color.

The effects of climate change burden those that contribute the least to climate change and yet are those most socially vulnerable to climate threats. Within the resolution the City committed to keeping the concerns of vulnerable communities central to all climate program planning processes and to invite and encourage such communities to actively participate in the development and implementation of the City’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

The Climate Justice Initiative seeks to identify and support BIPOC  leadership and communities to define Climate Equity within the City of Asheville and inform the direction of climate resilience action.  Climate Justice Plan development will help ensure that frontline communities play a central role in the just transformation of the systems that have established, and continue to perpetuate, the unequal burden of climate impacts.


June- August 2020

  • Individual listening and learning sessions with frontline community members and stakeholders

September-October 2020

November-December 2020

  • Interpret and expand Climate Justice Data Map
  • Develop graphic illustration interpretation
  • Engage community members to plan community story circles
  • Explore Youth PhotoVoice project with potential community partners

January-June 2021

  • Engage designated Climate Justice story circle communities to plan and conduct story circle events
  • Research and draft Literature Review document

June – December 2021

  • Conduct final story circles
  • Finalize Literature Review Document
  • Conduct City Staff leadership Climate Justice orientation and 1:1 interviews
  • Synthesize City Staff input into a summary document to inform Climate Justice Screening Tool development
  • Create draft Climate Justice Screening Tool 
  • Engage Youth Artists Empowered youth and artist mentors in climate justice project development
  • Plan final Youth Artists Empowered collaborative art installation event for January 2022

January 2022

  • Present final report to City Council
  • Host Youth Artists Empowered Climate Justice collaborative art installation event
  • Community report out & next steps:
    • Determine next steps in partnership with frontline communities
  • Community report out & next steps:
    • Neighborhood PhotoVoice and project visual installation
    • Determine next steps in partnership with frontline communities
  • Develop Climate Justice story map
  • Convene community story circles in 4 Asheville neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood PhotoVoice finalization and project visual installation
  • Community report out & next steps:
    • Determine next steps in partnership with frontline communities


Supporting Documents

Resolution 20-25 Climate Emergency Declaration

Climate Resilience Assessment

Resolution 11-77 Establishing 4% CO2 Reduction Goal

Resolution 14-27 Waste Reduction Goal and Benchmarks

Resolution 18-279 100% Renewable Energy Goal for Municipal Operations by 2030

Resolution 17-257 Food Policy Action Plan

Neighborhood Graphic Climate Justice maps


Contact Information

Amber Weaver, Sustainability Officer



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Related Departments


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