What is tree equity and what does it mean for Build Back Better bill?

Yasmine Leung September 28, 2021
What is tree equity and what does it mean for Build Back Better bill?
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden’s Build Back Better bill proposes spend of $3.5 trillion, with $3 billion to be spent on tree equity, but what is it and what effect will it have?

President Biden outlines Build Back Better spending

New details of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda were released on Saturday, 25 September 2021, with a plan to tackle climate change through the funding of tree planting and electric vehicles.

Of the total $3.5 trillion plan, $3 billion will be dedicated to tree equity, $7 billion to purchase “electrical delivery vehicles and related infrastructure, and another $5 billion for electric cars for the federal government”.

Despite this eye-watering total, the president tweeted his agenda would cost zero dollars, prompting criticism.

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What is tree equity?

According to the Tree Equity Score website, the term refers to the idea there should be “enough trees in specific neighbourhoods or municipalities for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits trees provide”.

The Biden Agenda views trees as a basic right for every US citizen and were found to be scarce in low-income areas and some black neighbourhoods. The conclusion is that a “map of tree cover in America’s cities is too often a map of income and race”. 

Overall, the move to fund tree planting hopes to address social inequalities by offering all citizens the “health, economic and climate benefits that trees provide”.

American Forests claims trees reduce heat-related illnesses, while planting them can create more jobs.

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Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Funding for bias training

Another key point of the Build Back Better bill includes $25 million dedicated towards bias training for health professionals to address the issue of racial discrimination.

The programme aims to: “Develop, disseminate, review, research and evaluate training for health professionals and all staff who interact with patients to reduce discrimination and bias in the provision of health care, with a focus on maternal health care.”

The move comes at a time when discussions over racism in healthcare have ramped up, with claims of huge health disparities between African-Americans and other minority groups compared with Caucasian Americans.

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Twitter criticises Build Back Better Agenda

Many Twitter users seem displeased by the president’s latest announcement, with some confused about what exactly tree equity is. Hey, that’s exactly why this article exists. We hope we’ve helped!

After Biden’s claim the bill would cost zero dollars, some on social media were sceptical.

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Yasmine Leung is a full-time writer at GRV Media. Having entered the company as a freelancer in 2020 during her BA (Hons) Anthropology and Media degree at Goldsmiths, University Of London, the first-class graduate works across the company's several sites, including HITC, Reality Titbit, The Focus, and Forever Geek. Her content ranges from social media trends and K-Pop news, to interviews with TikTok stars, such as Brody Wellmaker. She is, however, most glad her knowledge of the Kardashians has finally come in handy for GRV’s Audience team. You'll also find her scrolling on Instagram searching for the latest celeb updates for her next piece.