July 18, 2019

Environmental Justice and National Environmental Groups Advance a Historic Joint Climate Platform

Washington, D.C. — To confront the widening dangers of our climate crisis, leading U.S. environmental justice and national environmental groups today are advancing for the first time an Equitable and Just National Climate Platform.

This bold and historic platform highlights a shared vision and calls for national climate action that confronts racial, economic, and environmental injustice as it enacts deep cuts in climate pollution and accelerates a pollution-free energy future that benefits all communities.

The signatories to the platform have worked together over the past year to achieve consensus on this climate platform, and agree that, “all people and all communities have the right to breathe clean air, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, have access to healthy food, and share the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant clean economy.”

The National Climate Platform is being released to help to guide, aid, and inform local, regional, and national policymakers, business leaders, and civil society advocates in addressing the central environmental threat facing humankind—before it’s too late.

The signatories believe communities that bear the greatest burdens from pollution, climate change, and economic inequality should co-lead the way in shaping the assertive solutions we need to tackle the climate crisis and environmental racism as well as to achieve a just climate future. The platform released today lays out how we can—and will—get there together.

The signatories also believe we must:

  • Enact solutions that address the legacy of pollution: Ambitious climate solutions must acknowledge and address the legacy of pollution and other environmental harms in overburdened communities.
  • Make justice and equity a priority: Unless justice and equity are central aspects of our climate agenda, the inequality of the carbon-based economy will be replicated as we build a new clean and renewable energy economy.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas pollution: Meeting U.S. climate goals must also reduce locally harmful air pollution that disproportionately affects low-income areas and communities of color.
  • Transition to a clean energy future: Investments must be made to extend high-quality clean energy jobs, health protections, job-training programs, and fair and equitable working conditions to all communities, especially those with high underemployment and unemployment and those historically reliant on fossil fuel energy.
  • Reduce transportation pollution: Transportation is now the nation’s largest source of climate pollution today. We must rebuild our transportation system so that it is fair, equitable, clean, and improves people’s mobility as it cleans up the air.
  • Rebuild infrastructure and housing: They must better withstand the harmful impacts of climate change in all communities.
  • Demand a just national climate agenda: It must provide sustainable investment for mitigation and adaptation that will not impose an undue social and economic cost to overburdened and vulnerable communities.
  • Be on a pathway to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius: The United States must commit to ambitious emission reduction goals and contribute equitably to global efforts to stabilize the climate system by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To be successful, we must firmly be on this path by 2030.

The signatories are committed to working in partnership to define new policy ideas that tackle climate change and address environmental injustice—as well as to ensure that those ideas become reality. That means regular collaboration in shared forums that are co-created and co-led by environmental justice and national group advocates. It means building this collaboration into our advocacy strategies and daily activities.

For too long, systemic racism and injustice has left economically disadvantaged communities, tribal communities, and communities of color exposed to the highest levels of toxic pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. These vulnerable communities are increasingly affected by climate change, and they also have the fewest resources to prepare for and recover from its harm and hazard.

The platform co-authors and inaugural signatories to the platform include: 

Platform co-authors and inaugural signatories 

Center for American Progress, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Center for the Urban Environment, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Earthjustice, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Harambee House–Citizens for Environmental Justice, League of Conservation Voters, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Los Jardines Institute, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, Midwest Environmental Justice Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, ReGenesis Project, Sierra Club, Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School, Union of Concerned Scientists, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Environmental justice organization inaugural signatories

2BRIDGE CDX / BTB Coalition, Agricultura Cooperative Network, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Black Environmental Collective-Pittsburgh, Black Millennials 4 Flint, Black Youth Leadership Development Institute, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Citizens for Melia, Clean Power Lake County, Coalition of Community Organizations, Community Housing and Empowerment Connections, Community Members for Environmental Justice, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Long Branch, Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, Dakota Wicohan, Delaware Concerned Residents for Environmental Justice, Dr. Cesar G. Abarca, Dr. Fatemeh Shafiei, Dr. Marisol Ruiz, Dr. Robert Bullard, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Eduardo Aguiar, El Chante: Casa de Cultura, Farmworker Association of Florida, Flint Rising, Georgia Statewide Network for Environmental Justice and Equity, Greater Newark Conservancy, Green Door Initiative, Greenfaith, Ironbound Community Corporation, Jesus People Against Pollution, Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, Louisiana Democracy Project, Minority Workforce Development Coalition, Mossville Community in Action, Native Justice Coalition, Organizacion en California de Lideres Campesinas, Inc., Partnership for Southern Equity, People Concerned About Chemical Safety, People for Community Recovery, PODER, Reverend Canon Lloyd S. Casson, Rubbertown Emergency ACTion, Tallahassee Food Network, Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Texas Drought Project, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, The Wise Choice, Inc., Tradish “Traditional Real Foods,” Tusconians for a Clean Environment, UrbanKind Institute, We the People of Detroit, West County Toxics Coalition, Wisconsin Green Muslims.

The National Climate Platform, including additional environmental justice inaugural signatories, can be found at: AJustClimate.org

To speak with the environmental justice leaders involved in this process, please contact: 

  • Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute: 505-301-0275, [email protected]
  • Kim Wasserman, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization: 773-762-6991, [email protected]
  • Peggy Shepard, WE ACT for Environmental Justice: 917-482-1434, [email protected]
  • Dr. Ana Baptista, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJEJA) and the Tishman Environmental and Design Center at the New School: 973-342-6056, [email protected]
  • Dr. Nicky Sheats, NJEJA and Center for the Urban Environment of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University: 609-558-4987, [email protected] and [email protected]
  • Dr. Beverly Wright, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice Inc.: 504-782-8989, [email protected]
  • Dr. Mildred McClain, The Harambee House – Citizens for Environmental Justice: 912-604-8415, [email protected]
  • Jumana Vasi, Midwest Environmental Justice Network: 773-655-9412, [email protected]
  • Michelle Martinez, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition: 313-443-1046, [email protected]
  • Harold Mitchell, ReGenesis: 864-279-4675, [email protected]
  • Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice Health Alliance: 202-704-7593, [email protected]
  • Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy : 651-470-5945, [email protected]

 

Quotes:

Center for American Progress, Founder John D. Podesta: “Solving this climate crisis requires more than cutting greenhouse house gas emissions. It demands that we build a fair economy and confront racism and economic inequality that for far too long have prevented equal access to clean air, clean water, health care, and good jobs with family-sustaining wages. This historic platform calls for bold climate solutions that help build an economy that works for everyone and end the deadly practice of concentrating pollution in communities of color and low-income areas.”

Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Dr. Cecilia Martinez: “This platform represents decades of work and policy ideas from environmental justice communities, too often invisible to the public. For too long, Indigenous people and people of color have borne the brunt of pollution. By bringing this forward with our national allies, we are giving voice to all this historical work. Acting collectively, we can make a better world.” 

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dr. Beverly Wright: Louisiana is home to oil and gas industries that disproportionately expose African Americans to harmful pollution and significantly contribute to the United States being ranked second among nations for the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions. In the past, we have seen national green groups cut off support to Louisiana following environmental justice victories by African American communities. Today, the climate crisis compels a change in behavior. I support building bridges that bring people and organizations together for climate action that is clear-eyed in overcoming environmental racism.” 

Environmental Justice Health Alliance, Richard Moore and Michele Roberts: “This agreement and Just and Equitable Climate Platform is a long time coming. Only when we come together will we win. The future of all our communities and workers depend on it.” 

Harambee House—Citizens for Environmental Justice, Dr. Mildred McClain: “For coastal communities such as Savannah, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Jacksonville, and others, climate change is a reality as we witness an increase in and intensity of tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and killer heat. The Just and Equitable National Change Platform gives us an incredible and historic tool to strengthen our fight for climate justice and a new green clean economy that does not rely on fossil fuels.”

Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, Statewide Coordinator Michelle Martinez: “Detroit, the Motor City, is in urgent need of a plan to transition our economy away from the fossil fuel economy—and we need to account for the historic harms and the deep inequity that Detroit is facing; those two things can happen at the same time. We want to be front and center, we’re ready to build it, to own it, now—this platform is a roadmap for front-line communities here and all over the country.”

Midwest Environmental Justice Network, Adviser Jumana Vasi: “The platform is a valuable way to elevate the voices of grassroots groups in the Midwest. We are proud to join our esteemed colleagues in signing the Just and Equitable National Climate Platform to coordinate action on many of the most urgent issues facing our front-line communities.”  

Natural Resources Defense Council, President Mitch Bernard: “This bold platform, and the diverse architects advancing it, heralds a shift in our approach to climate advocacy and our concept of climate action. It recognizes that many of our social problems—poverty, soaring illness rates, and lack of economic opportunity—are linked inextricably to misguided actions that have turned many communities into hazard zones. Together, now, we will work to reduce all forms of pollution and spread the benefits to all communities, in accordance with the universal principles of fairness, justice, and democracy.”

New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, Dr. Ana Baptista & Dr. Nicky Sheats: “We are hopeful that the Just and Equitable National Climate Platform will serve as the foundation for future climate policies. For too long, environmental justice communities were relegated to being sacrifice zones. This platform centers climate policies in economic and environmental transformations that will benefit all communities.”   

Union of Concerned Scientists, President Ken Kimmell: “If we have learned anything about how to make progress on difficult issues, it is the importance of building a large, strong, vibrant, and diverse coalition. Today marks a historic day where two communities have come together to join forces on addressing the related challenges of climate change and local pollution. I could not be more pleased and hopeful about this ongoing partnership and we at UCS view this document as a moral compass to help guide our work.”

WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Executive Director Peggy Shepard: “This historic collaboration signals an understanding that our local, national, and global environmental and climate goals will not be realized without a collective commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the most impacted communities. We must ensure that front-line communities provide leadership in realizing the solutions that address the climate and environmental challenges facing us all.”

League of Conservation Voters, President Gene Karpinski: “In solving the climate crisis, we must address the legacy of toxic pollution and other environmental harms that have for far too long overburdened low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities with devastating health and social impacts. LCV celebrates the release of this historic platform, and we look forward to the adoption of the Just and Equitable National Climate Platform by national, state, and local elected officials and candidates as soon as possible.”

Earthjustice, President Abigail Dillen: “The National Climate Platform outlines a bold vision in which climate solutions deliver on their true promise—to confer health and wealth benefits where they are needed most, while averting the full-fledged climate disaster that many communities are experiencing already. Earthjustice is extraordinarily privileged to be working alongside heroes of the environmental justice movement at this make-or-break moment for people and the planet.”

Sierra Club, Executive Director Michael Brune: “This is a historic platform and a historic day that is long overdue. It is essential that environmental justice—and environmental justice leadership—be at the forefront of the work of building a just climate future for all. This is just the beginning and there is much work to be done together, but this platform brings us one huge leap closer to that shared goal.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.