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We know you’ve heard of climate change, but what about climate justice? The concept of climate justice asks us to pay close attention to who’s reaping the benefits of a fossil fuel-powered lifestyle and who’s bearing the brunt of the impacts. Because while climate change threatens everyone, communities of color with few financial resources are disproportionately affected.
The non-profit organization Green For All is on the forefront of climate justice activism. Their goal is to make sure everyone has a voice in the climate movement, including bringing jobs and opportunity to those communities.
Here are six ways Green For All is making climate justice happen:
1. GREEN COLLAR ECONOMY
Leaders who are bringing new ideas from new perspectives are crucial. When Green for All’s founder Van Jones released his book, The Green Collar Economy in October 2008, it shot onto The New York Times’ Bestseller List—the first environmental book by an African-American author to do so. The book’s popularity helped spur the growing demand for green jobs. It also spurred demand for Jones—by March of 2008, President Obama had tapped Green For All’s leader to serve as Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
2. GREEN THE CHURCH
Green The Church, its organizers say, "aims to bring the benefits of sustainability directly to black communities." It includes a partnership between Green For All and the U.S. Green Building Council to work with churches on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. It also seeks to "tap into the power of the African-American church as a moral leader and a force for social change," through education and outreach to millions of black churchgoers across the country.
3. PROTECTING CLEAN AIR, STANDING UP TO POLLUTERS
When it comes to climate change and pollution, people of color and low-income neighborhoods are often the hardest hit. Sixty-eight percent of African Americans live within 30 minutes of a polluting coal plant and one in six black kids suffers from asthma. The Obama administration is working to clean up our air and fight climate change through measures like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. But big polluting industries are waging a war on clean air safeguards and that’s definitely not cool. Green For All is standing up to them.
4. CHANGING THE FINANCIAL EQUATION
People of color and low-income folks stand to gain tremendously from efforts to fight pollution. If carbon-cutting initiatives are handled thoughtfully, they can right the ship—creating jobs, economic opportunity, and stability in communities that have been beaten down by years of racism, divestment and poverty.
5. POLICIES THAT MATTER
Over the years, Green For All has played a key part in imagining and enacting policies that spur the growth of clean energy and fight pollution. One of Green For All’s first policy victories was helping to pass the Green Jobs Act, which authorized $125 million per year for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program. Another victory came in 2009, when Congress passed President Obama’s $787 billion Recovery Act that included many initiatives that Green For All had been pushing for—including investments in weatherization, green job training and clean energy.
6. THINKING GLOBALLY, ACTING LOCALLY
Through Green For All’s state and local initiatives, they’ve helped launch thriving green businesses and social ventures. For example, Green For All partnered with the City of Portland, Oregon to develop and launch Clean Energy Works, a home energy retrofitting program designed to create quality jobs, social equity and business growth while improving homes and reducing carbon emissions. To date, the program has upgraded more than 3,500 homes, employed more than 1,400 workers and generated more than $62 million in local economic development—all while achieving targets for workforce and contractor diversity.
SUPPORT GREEN FOR ALL
We’re big fans of Green For All and it’s probably pretty easy to see why. To learn more about their climate justice initiatives and to support Green For All’s mission, head on over to http://www.greenforall.org/.
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