There’s a word we don’t hear enough in our climate debates: injustice.
By Joe Kennedy III
When we talk about the climate crisis, there’s a lot of familiar vocabulary — renewable energy, cap and trade, carbon emissions, energy efficiency.
But there’s a word we don’t hear enough in our climate debates: injustice.
There is no question that climate change is an arrow aimed at all of us. But it strikes hardest where public policy failures always do: those we have historically repressed or systemically disenfranchised, from the smoke stacks of Cancer Alley, Louisiana to the fuel tanks of Chelsea, Massachusetts to the streets of Puerto Rico.
Where people are more likely to live near toxic industrial facilities and hazardous waste sites. More likely to be subjected to air pollution that drives up childhood asthma rates. More likely to be up against aging infrastructure that puts lead in drinking water. More likely to be paralyzed by disruptions to public services when violent storms and floods and fires sweep through and less likely to have the resources to recover.
It is no coincidence that, across the country, these places are disproportionately black and brown, immigrant, poor. It is no coincidence that our country takes advantage of them when it comes to the environment the same way it does when it comes to education, transportation, housing and health care.
I believe that bold, transformative climate policy must do more than prevent future catastrophe. It must repair the damage our communities have already endured.
As an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution, I think it is a critical framework for an aggressive climate agenda. But now the real work begins. Now Congress needs to flesh out the policy behind the proposal.
And as we do, I’ll be fighting to ensure that climate justice is at the center of it.
I hope you’ll join me.