The science is clear: in order to avoid climate catastrophe we must keep global temperatures below 1.5° Celsius of warming above pre-Industrial levels. Due to the reckless deregulation of the Trump Administration, the U.S. has seen a massive increase in methane emissions, a trend that has contributed to record global methane emissions.
This past year alone, we have seen a record breaking hurricane season devastate communities in the Gulf Coast, while watching wildfires burn more than five million acres across the west coast. We know that as temperatures rise, natural disasters will continue to increase in both frequency and magnitude. It is clear that we have no time to waste and we must tackle climate change head on if we are to leave a planet that is habitable and healthy for future generations.
However, we know that reducing emissions is not enough to tackle the climate crisis. Decades of subsidizing polluting and extractive industries have left many communities dangerous and sick.
Hot spots, pollution, and underinvestment and neglect have devastated communities from Cancer Alley in Louisiana to those facing water crises in Flint, Michigan, Lowndes County Alabama, Denmark, South Carolina and many more. Furthermore, we know that the impacts of climate change disproportionately harm Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.
Tackling climate change necessitates an intersectional approach that includes cleaning up pollution and ending investments in extractive industries, equitably investing in communities, drastically reducing emissions, and fixing our crumbling infrastructure. Importantly as we work to stop the impacts of climate change we must also build up and invest in vibrant and healthy communities. We must make these bold changes with the understanding that climate change is most devastating to communities of color both historically and still today.
Climate Justice Reforms We Want to See
It is critical that we do not hesitate to act on climate. The science is clear that we have very little time left to make the drastic changes needed to avoid climate catastrophe. Working together we can create the change needed to leave a habitable planet and a more just society that enables dignified work, healthy communities, a stable climate, and racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice.
- Create millions of good, safe jobs. Decarbonizing the economy is going to take a lot of work. The good news is that means we can create dignified jobs for millions of unemployed and underemployed workers and support a better life for the millions more who remain vulnerable in the aftermath of the pandemic. As we seek to make these solutions lasting, we must also build worker power. It is critical that all workers, including women and people of color who have historically been excluded, have the ability to unionize.
- Fairness for Workers. Addressing climate change will require a massive transition away from extractive industries. This will cause shifts in communities that have for decades kept our lights on. It is critical that we take care of workers and communities that are impacted by the pandemic, climate change, and other economic shocks and shifts.
- Invest in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. As we know Black Brown and Indigenous communities have been intentionally poisoned and neglected throughout our history. Investments from any climate legislation must include a focus on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities; working-class communities; and communities facing environmental injustice.
- Strengthen and heal the nation to nation relationship with Indigenous nations. A history of energy pilfering and pollution on tribal lands must end. This often illegal behavior has resulted in fossil fuel pipelines, a quarter of superfund hazardous waste sites, and abandoned mines polluting Indigenous communities and land. Importantly, any climate legislation must obtain the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories, and must honor all treaties made and respect tribal sovereignty.
- Avert climate and environmental catastrophe. We must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This will require the largest expansion of clean, renewable energy, emissions reductions, climate resilience, and sustainable resource use in history. We must transform our agricultural industry to support family farms, build resilience, and promote healthy food for communities.
- Address environmental injustice and stop polluting. An important part of addressing environmental catastrophe is cleaning up the messes we have already made. The greed of the fossil fuel industry has endangered the planet we need to survive and has knowingly polluted communities, especially Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working-class communities. We must hold these companies accountable and make them pay for the harm they have caused.
How We Plan to Win Climate Justice
We will follow the science and advocate for policies that meet the scale of the crises. Fossil fuel companies and other corporate polluters have spent decades denying the scientific reality of climate change, and spending billions of dollars to fund anti-science politicians. But we don’t have to listen to them. We will demand that our representatives support the laws and regulations that science tells us are necessary to ensure a safe and healthy earth.
We will organize with local Indivisibles and partners across the climate movement so that we take climate action that is equitable, inclusive, and puts people first. We can only achieve our climate goals with a big, broad coalition of activists that are united behind a common vision for a sustainable future. That future will be led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, by workers and communities that are reliant on extractive industries, and by communities who have been harmed the most by the impacts of climate change.
We will fight for the bold, structural changes necessary to reshape our economy and avert the climate crisis. It is simply too late for incremental changes, so Congress and the administration must use every tool available to pursue the biggest, most aggressive climate plan possible. We must be fearlessly progressive in our advocacy in order to win climate justice together.