Environmental Defense Fund

At a Glance



Project Types

Climate Justice/Energy Equity, Sustainability and Energy Management Strategy




New York, NY


Lauren Johnson executed evidence-based qualitative and social science research to inform justice and equity integrations in EDF’s net zero work.


Net zero has been increasingly accepted as a mathematical science-based model to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. However, how to reach net zero has been less prioritized, especially its social dimensions. Therefore, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) tasked Lauren with a landscape analysis and pilot study using innovative qualitative research techniques and social science theories to answer the research question: How can EDF better align its U.S. net zero work with justice and equity?


Johnson met this challenge by taking an iterative qualitative research approach:

  • Synthesize the landscape of net zero institutional knowledge and their respective environmental and climate justice (ECJ) risks and opportunities. Johnson uplifted mainstream neglected ECJ community-based organization and frontline community narratives relevant to net zero in a scoping review. 

  • Engage internally and externally with net zero stakeholders to qualify net zero perceptions and depictions using evidence-based qualitative research techniques. Johnson executed dozens of interviews, a focus group, and an internal survey through robust collaborations with cutting-edge social science and environmental justice experts.

  • Amalgamate emergent themes and social science evidence-based theories to formalize recommendations for justice and equity integrations in EDF’s net zero work.

Potential Impact

Using innovative qualitative research and systems thinking techniques, Johnson cultivated timely and impactful justice and equity recommendations for net zero work and set the foundation for future work she will implement as a Senior Analyst, Equity and Climate Justice on EDF’s Justice and Equity Team.

As a result of these recommendations and future work, EDF has the foundational knowledge to secure itself as a leader in net zero equity and justice alignment in their influential multisectoral portfolio.

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