A Conversation on Climate Justice with CNN’s Van Jones and Dream Corps
“Climate change is happening now and to all of us. No country or community is immune. And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit.” - UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
The WarnerMedia Corporate Social Responsibility team hosted a conversation with environmental leaders on the topic of climate justice featuring Van Jones, CNN political commentator & Founder of Dream Corps, Michelle Romero, National Director of Green For All program for Dream Corps and Stacey Hoppe, Vice President, Social Responsibility and Sustainability at WarnerMedia.
Learn more about climate justice and how you can support the movement below.
What is Climate Justice?
Climate Justice is a term – and movement – that recognizes that the effects of climate change often disproportionately impact marginalized communities and seeks to address these inequities. Poor and vulnerable populations worldwide often bear a higher burden of environmental risks, including exposure to air, water, and soil pollution from industrialization, militarization, and consumer practices, compared to wealthier groups.
This disparity is also evident internationally between countries in the Global North (the richest and most industrialized countries) and those in the Global South (lower-income countries). Despite not being responsible for most of the pollution leading to the climate emergency, poorer countries often face the gravest risks from changing environments, such as rising sea levels, the spread of disease, and more extreme weather events.
Climate Justice is widely accepted as a fundamental goal of many environmental policies, including improving public access to environmental data and information, improving quality of life through access to environmental goods, and preserving resources for future generations. However, the complex causes of climate prejudice are deeply rooted in social injustice and systemic racism, which creates a challenging barrier for change.
Positively, in recent years we have seen increased cooperation between local and national governments and the communities they serve around environmental initiatives, which has started to drive meaningful change. With a heightened global focus on climate change and a collective commitment of nations and companies to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier, it is more critical than ever to ensure this transition is just and equitable. We must create a world that is green for ALL.
- COP26 Glasgow in November will put environmental impacts on vulnerable people front and center
- Climate Justice is a key policy point after the US rejoining the Paris Agreement
- Environmental injustice is rampant around the world
Watch the full interview recording below to learn more.
What are some of the causes of climate injustices?
- A tangled past - colonialism and systemic racism:
Climate injustice and racial injustice are often treated as separate issues when in reality, systemic racism is often the underlying force causing environmental inequities in vulnerable communities. A long history of racist and discriminatory practices has allowed the spread of industrial pollution and ecological mismanagement with impunity in disadvantaged communities around the world. The past has not been dealt with, and these practices remain hardwired into the system. It is challenging to pull apart the past threads of exclusion and violence and land use and race and rectify the root causes of climate injustice.
- Lack of political voice and access to information:
Around the world, communities of color and marginalized groups often don’t have a powerful political voice to fight climate injustices, nor are they well informed about the underlying environmental issues impacting their communities.
These populations often also lack pathways to environmental action. Insufficient economic opportunity, financial insecurity, limited access to funding, and a history of being silenced are all obstacles faced by vulnerable communities when advocating for and implementing solutions to fight the worst effects of climate change-fueled risks.
- Fighting an invisible enemy:
Climate justice researchers have struggled to make locations and histories of climate injustices visible to the world. There is often little transparency nor recognition of issues that communities face and therefore it is difficult for the greater population to understand the complexity of the problem. Additionally, the struggles for justice are often very localized, so links between diverse, global causes and campaigns are not made obvious.
Take Action: Support a Global Movement for Climate Justice
The Dream Corps Green For All initiative fights for a world that is green for all, not green for some. Their work focuses on the intersection of environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution in the US.
- Sign the petition to urge Congress to pass $10 billion to modernize and upgrade 2 million homes for low-income families.
- Sign the petition to prioritize clean and healthy buses for children
- Add your name to get updates on how Green For All is prioritizing good green jobs for justice-involved populations in the proposal to rebuild American infrastructure and invest in workers and communities across the country
ActionAid works with women, girls and communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to alleviate the effects of climate change and fight for climate justice through research, campaigning and advocacy. Of the 26 million people currently estimated to be displaced by climate change, 20 million are women.
- £150 could pay for seeds, tools and ‘green skills’ training, enabling farmers to grow sustainable, drought-resistant crops
- £490 could cover the cost of buying a solar-powered pumping machine for five households, providing them with a dependable water source for farming
If you are a UK taxpayer, before June 4th, your donation will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government. Give now and your support could go twice as far to create change that will last for generations.
Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)
Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF). EJF is working to secure a world where natural habitats and environments can sustain, and be sustained by, the communities that depend upon them for their basic needs and livelihoods.
Additional Resources from AT&T
- AT&T renewable energy scholarships
As AT&T works toward carbon neutrality across our operations by 2035, we invest not only in renewable energy but also in the people who bring clean power to the grid. Renewable energy jobs are among the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., and as a company, we are dedicating resources to empower communities who have historically been left out of economic opportunities. To date, we’ve contributed $85K toward AT&T’s Renewable Energy Scholarship program and provided support for students seeking careers as solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians. The mission of the program is to establish a more diverse renewable energy workforce and create pathways to sustainable careers, especially among women and people of color.
Learn more from AT&T's Chief Diversity Officer about AT&T’s renewable energy scholarships and how we’re supporting job creation for a net zero economy here.
- AT&T community resilience program
We strive to integrate climate justice into our resilience work and help protect those who are most vulnerable to extreme weather events. Through AT&T's $500k contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are aiming to help underserved communities plan, design, and implement nature-based solutions to help cities better prepare for and respond to climate impacts. Low-income families have more difficulty recovering from climate disasters, and their livelihoods are more vulnerable to changing environmental conditions. Groundwork Jacksonville has been awarded a $294,000 contribution from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and AT&T, earmarked for the preliminary (30%) design of the Hogans Creek restoration. The goal of the resilience project is to reduce flooding, improve water quality, restore habitat and provide access to recreation in and around the creek in Jacksonville Florida. Residents living within the Hogans Creek watershed are 73% African-American and 46% of residents are living in poverty.
Learn more: Building Community Resilience: AT&T Provides Climate Data that Helps At-Risk Neighborhoods Prepare for Extreme Weather Events