Environmental/Climate Justice

How to incorporate climate justice in the language classroom

Language teachers have a key role in ensuring that students not only engage with the climate crisis but with climate justice too. Developing students’ understanding of these cause-and-effect connections that affect people around the world is just one of the aspects to focus on the language classroom to raise awareness of climate justice. To engage students and teach them the importance of cross-disciplinary collaborations, consider teaming up with other teachers for projects and involve students in decision making as much as possible.

Promoting Equitable Wildfire Recovery in Lahaina: Four Lessons for Local Leaders, from Colorado’s Marshall Fire

The Marshall Fire was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history. Before the Marshall Fire, 97 percent of homeowners had insurance compared with 70 percent of renters. And a year after the fire, renters were significantly more likely to be displaced from their home (62 percent) compared with homeowners (40 percent). Renters face other challenges too, with 63 percent of those still living in the same property as before the fire reporting that their landlord had raised their rent. The number of respondents who agreed that “as our community rebuilds, we should work to provide more affordable housing in this area” fell between survey waves by 9 percentage points, and the drop was especially pronounced among those who suffered the greatest damage, where support for affordable housing fell by 15 points, from 62 percent to 47 percent. After the Marshall Fire, we found 36 percent of survey respondents attended a fire-related meeting, but only 23 percent of households earning less than $75,000 per year did. Similarly, 39 percent of homeowners reported attending a meeting, versus 14 percent of renters. Among the survey respondents who were 55 years old or older, 39 percent attended a meeting, compared with 37 percent of respondents ages 35–54 and just 20 percent of those ages 18–34.

Oil and Gas Workers Reveal Their Real Working Conditions

True Transition, an organization composed of fossil fuel workers, recently released their “American Oil and Gas Workers Survey.” It provides the answers given by 1649 oil and gas workers to 38 questions about their jobs and work lives. Among their findings: over half of the survey respondents have lost their jobs at least once previously to 2020, evidence that the oil and gas industry has already been systematically reducing its workforce; more than half of the survey respondents lost their jobs in 2020; workers expressed anxiety about not being able to do anything else outside of the oil and gas industry and a preference for work that utilized existing competencies; just under half of survey respondents believe that their company’s safety program was explicitly or implicitly designed to shift liability of an accident onto the worker; a third of survey respondents indicated that they had been ordered to engage in unsafe working practices that were in direct violation of established safety practices; crew sizes are shrinking with more work expected of each worker. Smaller upstream operators appear to be under staffed intentionally to save money; newer, younger hires are not being trained adequately.

What Happens to the Workers When Oil Refineries Close?

There are ways to mitigate the harmful effects of job loss when fossil fuel workers lose their jobs. On October 30, 2020, the Marathon oil refinery in Contra Costa County, California, was permanently shut down and 345 unionized workers laid off. 74% of former Marathon workers (excluding retirees) had found new jobs. Nearly one in five (19%) were not employed but actively searching for work. Their unemployment rate was 22.5% Their jobs paid $12 per hour less than their Marathon jobs, a 24% cut in pay. Here are ways support displaced workers, including: extended cash payments to maintain pre-layoff income levels; financial support to cover the 24% average gap in workers’ pre-layoff wages and their post-layoff wages; bridge-to-retirement funding that provides full retirement benefits to workers eligible for early retirement within one year following layoff.

Biden’s Fossil Fuel Fail: How U.S. Oil & Gas Supply Rises under the Inflation Reduction Act

The United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) fails to reduce fossil fuel production or alleviate impact on environmental justice communities. Rather than set the United States on a path toward a managed phase-out of fossil fuels, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Biden administration’s policies are set to lead to a significant increase in U.S. oil and gas extraction and soaring exports. This finding makes a mockery of President Joe Biden’s claims of “climate leadership” and signals that without additional action to constrain oil and gas production, the suffering of oil and gas frontline communities will only grow. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities, especially in Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, and the Permian Basin, are disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel pollution, climate disasters, and health impacts.

Funding a Clean and Equitable Energy Transition: Lessons from California

California has been investing in a clean energy transition for decades, and, in recent years, has increasingly targeted funds to under-resourced and marginalized communities. Other states and the federal government have likewise stepped up. There is much to learn from California’s considerable experience. Our report series analyzes California’s decision-making structures — the processes that determine priorities and the mechanisms that turn broad justice principles into action. Our analysis and recommendations are intended to improve California’s programs, help emerging state programs consider the strengths and weaknesses of California’s institutional landscape, and influence emerging federal funding mechanisms.

Race Class Narrative (RCN) Messaging Checklist

Open with a shared value. Reference race in the shared value. State a problem after the shared value. Name villains who use racial scapegoating or division as a weapon that hurts all of us. Uplift victories and/or everyday collective actions that solve problems(s) across race. Focus on tangible outcomes, not policies or procedures. Give a clear call to action. Share what we are for without repeating the opposition’s language. Use simple, everyday language.

Mobilizing Toward Climate Justice

Mobilize community members as a choir in support of robust climate interventions that center people of color and exert pressure on elected leaders, government agencies, and corporations to put renewable and regenerative power in the hands of impacted communities. The following messaging guidance is helpful. Frame the issues and impacts of the climate crisis in terms of lived experience and creation of good as opposed to removal of something bad or abstract ideas. Use active voice – name culprits and provide origin story for the climate crisis. Lead with the experience and solutions that communities of color bring to addressing climate change rather than the harms that disproportionately impact them. Focus on how public utilities can lower costs, provide more reliable energy, and empower the community. Call out corporations and their greed. Don’t use comparison to existing public goods. Share positive stories of publicly owned utilities. Avoid naming disparities without assigning blame. Effective culprits here are corporate CEOs, fossil fuel corporations, wealthy few who profit off polluting our communities. Link action to past victories and power of collective action (i.e. “the many can defeat the money”). Give examples of what solutions that prioritize communities of color look like. Combine calls to action, such as holding fossil fuel corporations accountable, with a vision for the better future we will create. Give people political actions to take or they will default just to direct aid. Make it clear who is at fault for the disasters that we face.

Climate and Environmental Justice Block Grants

Climate and Environmental Justice Block Grants provide $3 billion in competitive, 3-year grants to states, Tribes, and municipalities and community-based nonprofit organizations for financial and technical assistance to address clean air and climate pollution in disadvantaged communities. Activities that benefit disadvantaged communities to confront and overcome persistent climate pollution challenges, including: Community-led air and other pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation, investments in low- and zero-emission and resilient technologies, and related infrastructure and workforce development that help reduce; greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants; Mitigating climate and health risks from urban heat islands, extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfire events; Climate resiliency and adaptation, including nature-based solutions; Reducing indoor toxics and indoor air pollution; Facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities in state and federal public processes, including facilitating such engagement in advisory groups, workshops, and rulemakings. Eligible recipients include: A community-based nonprofit organization; a partnership of community-based nonprofit organizations; a partnership between a Tribe, a local government, or an institution of higher education and a community-based nonprofit organization.

New US climate report says land theft and colonization amplify the climate crisis for Indigenous peoples

Indigenous self-determination is a key climate solution — if the federal government can get behind it. The latest National Climate Assessment cites a 2021 study that concluded that Indigenous peoples in the United States lost 99 percent of their territories through colonization, and that the lands that they were forced to move to face higher wildfire risk and worse drought than their traditional homelands. According to the authors, Indigenous peoples across the continental U.S. and its island holdings hail from more than 700 tribes and communities, and while each community has a different relationship with the federal government, all share similar experiences of colonization through stolen land, cultural assimilation, and persistent marginalization. The report also detailed problems with the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal insurance program managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that helps homeowners insure against the risk of flooding, something that many insurance companies won’t cover. The program is supposed to help communities mitigate flood risk, but the report found that its implementation in Native communities has been flawed and ineffective.