Sunrise's Democratic Presidential Scorecard: Sanders A-, Warren B-, Biden F

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 10 Dec 2019 00:28:00 GMT

The youth climate activist group Sunrise Movement has published a 200-point climate leadership scorecard on the top three Democratic presidential candidates, with Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden far behind.

Sanders earned 91.5% of the possible points; Warren 82.5%; and Biden a strikingly low 37.5%.

The careful scoring process is broken into four sections: “How they talk about it,” “How much they talk about it,” “Plan to win,” and “Green New Deal vision.”

Sanders and Warren earned identical scores for “How they talk about it” and “Plan to win”- reflecting their similarity in rhetoric about the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for comprehensive action that directly confronts the fossil-fuel industry. Both campaigns have laid out comprehensive plans for action that are built around principles of climate justice.

However, Sanders has talked about climate change significantly more than Warren on the campaign trail and in the presidential debates—a difference reflected in the metric used by the Sunrise Movement, which is the frequency with which climate change is discussed on the campaign Twitter feeds.

The Green New Deal section was a 100-point analysis of the candidate’s climate plans, representing half of the full score. Sanders received an A (95 points) compared to Warren’s B (85 points) for his clear plan for a phase-out of fossil-fuel extraction and for more detailed and ambitious plans for sustainable agriculture, forestry, climate refugees, energy democracy, public infrastructure, renewable energy investment, and public transportation.

In all categories Biden lagged significantly.

Perhaps relatedly, the Biden campaign’s top climate staffer, Heather Zichal, is a former John Kerry and Barack Obama staffer who parlayed her years of service into highly lucrative positions in the natural gas industry.

When Biden has been confronted by climate activists at campaign stops, he has responded dismissively that he was involved in one of the first climate bills passed by Congress and if they’re still not happy, they should vote for someone else.

Politicians Need To Know Fossil Fuel Money Doesn't Make Good Climate Policy

Posted by Justin Guay Thu, 21 Nov 2019 19:09:00 GMT

A guest post by climate strategist Justin Guay. A prior version was published on Twitter.

I don’t know David Victor.

Not in the Trump sense, I literally have never met him. I can’t weigh in on him and don’t want to. But there is an underlying issue swirling around him and the Buttigieg campaign – taking money from those who actively sabotage climate efforts – that needs to be talked about, not hand-waved away.

No one would today, with the hindsight of history, suggest that Tobacco, Asbestos or other universally recognized “bads” should have been at the table designing regulations aimed at eliminating their industries. But fossil fuels, incredibly, are somehow different.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not black and white. There are friends, frenemies (I see you utilities, I see you), and enemies. Companies and actors can and do move amongst the categories. We can’t be ideologues because yesterday’s villain can be tomorrow’s hero. (There’s lots of this in finance.)

But there are, I believe, universal bad guys who will never move because their business model doesn’t allow it. Pure-play coal companies are one, which is why carbon-capture-and-sequestration coalitions should never, ever, allow the likes of Peabody to launder their reputation with their well-intentioned efforts.

And then there’s oil. We do have examples of shifting (Love you, Ørsted). But it’s the exception, not the rule, and it was achieved thanks to hefty state intervention and ownership. The reality is large, publicly traded oil companies today are not friends – they’re enemies and they’re powerful.

So when academics, politicians and other “very serious actors” take their money, they enable an incredibly insidious thing. They launder these companies’ reputations, enable their gaslighting, and generally squander power that is very, very difficult for climate hawks to build.

They do that in part by abstracting climate into a “carbon problem” as though carbon dioxide is not created by specific companies and industries for their own benefit at the expense of our future. Those are arguments the left internalizes, enabling an artificial narrowing of the political horizon.

It’s this, even more than billions spent directly lobbying that I find most troubling. It’s unseen limitations on the ambition of the left that DC refugees know all too well. It’s not “political reality.” It’s artificially generated both-sides-ism brought to you by money.

It’s then made visible by journalists who treat these paid shills as equals as they present counter arguments “in good faith.” That’s not an equal argument focused on what’s in the best interest of the public. That’s an industry fighting to survive at society’s expense.

So let’s be clear. We can not and will not, solve the climate crisis as long as we allow those actively sabotaging action to appear as though they’re not. We will look back and find it ridiculous that this needed to be said.

Fossil-Fuel-Funded Pete Buttigieg Climate Advisor David Victor Opposes Fossil-Fuel Divestment

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 21 Nov 2019 02:39:00 GMT

Pete Buttigieg climate advisor David G. Victor, a political scientist and recipient of millions of dollars from BP and other fossil-fuel companies, begrudged the recent decision of the University of California to divest its endowment from the fossil-fuel industry.

”’Divesting from all fossil fuel companies turns the climate problem into something that seems like a simple problem, and in fact it’s the opposite,” Victor told Cal Matters in September, when U of C’s decision was announced. “We should be shareholders in those companies, and we should be active shareholders, to make sure that they’re actually doing it.”

In lieu of divestment, Victor has advocated for drilling for natural gas, “clean coal,” and considering geoengineering in the name of climate action.

Of course, Victor is only one of Buttigieg’s climate advisors.

It is not clear what Buttigieg’s position on the climate divestment movement is. However, Buttigieg, like all of the Democratic candidates for president on the debate stage tonight. has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, committing to not accept campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel industry.

h/t Dr. Genevieve Guenther

Pete Buttigieg Climate Advisor Is a Fossil-Fuel-Funded Witness for The Trump Administration Against Children's Climate Lawsuit

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 19 Nov 2019 01:31:00 GMT

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, enjoying a surge in Iowa polling, has a climate advisor allied with the Trump administration against climate activists.

David G. Victor, recently quoted in a New York Times article criticizing Bernie Sanders’ ambitious climate plan, was identified by journalist Lisa Friedman as a “climate advisor to Pete Buttigieg.”

Not mentioned by Friedman were Victor’s ties to the fossil-fuel industry and to the Trump administration. For the past 15 years, his funding has come from the fossil-fuel industry—in particular the oil giant BP and the electric-utility-backed Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Victor, who is a political scientist, not a climate scientist, by training, sits on the board of EPRI.

In 2004, Victor celebrated a $1.95 million contribution from BP to the program he directed at the time, Stanford University’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development. “This new partnership with BP will allow the program to accelerate research in several areas, including the design and operation of market-based policies to address the threats of global warming,” said Victor. “In addition to BP Foundation support, we look forward to learning more from BP’s own experience as an energy company, which touches on every aspect of our program’s research.”

In 2005, Victor published an article calling for a global boom in natural-gas extraction in the name of climate action. “[M]ore programs to build natural gas infrastructures would help the governments of China and India to manage their local air pollution problems while cutting emissions of CO2,” he wrote. “India’s shift to gas is being hampered by the United States–led effort to isolate Iran, which is slowing plans to build an important pipeline from Iran’s vast gas deposits to markets in Pakistan and India. External pressure and assistance to normalize Russia’s gas industry would help to unlock vast Siberian gas deposits for export to China.”

In 2007, Victor celebrated a further $7.5 million contribution from BP with a very similar quotation. “BP’s support has allowed our program to study the world’s most pressing energy problems, such as global warming, energy poverty and the prospects for the world oil market,” said program director and Stanford law Professor David Victor. “In addition to BP Foundation support, we learn from BP’s experience as an energy company because they operate in all the markets where we do research—such as in China and India.”

In 2009, he pushed “clean coal.”

In 2010, Victor helped to found the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, also funded by BP and EPRI.

In 2016, Victor emphasized his empathy for corporate polluters, railing against a study finding that 90 corporations are responsible for most greenhouse pollution. ””It’s part of a larger narrative of trying to create villains; to draw lines between producers as responsible for the problem and everyone else as victims,” he complained. “Frankly, we’re all the users and therefore we’re all guilty. To create a narrative that involves corporate guilt as opposed to problem-solving is not going to solve anything.”

In 2018, Victor was paid by the Trump administration to be an expert witness against the 21 youth plaintiffs bringing suit against the federal government for its inaction on climate change and support of a fossil-fuel economy.

“It is my belief that the dependence on fossil fuels which existed prior to the oil crises of the 1970s, and which exists today, in fact, is the inevitable consequence of history,” Victor wrote. He also argued that it is the renewable energy sector, not the fossil-fuel industry, which enjoys the lion’s share of federal subsidies, and that federal policy has little to do with the financial success of the fossil-fuel industry. He was paid $325 an hour to prepare his testimony.

“The progressive wing wants radical change, and climate change is one of those areas where this has really been the most palpable,” Victor told the Times. “The Sanders plan claims to deliver radical change, but it can’t work in the real world.”

This is a decidedly strange perspective-it is precisely “radical change” in the “real world” that the Sanders plan and Our Children’s Trust are working to avoid. The approach of Victor and his client Donald Trump – and worryingly, Buttigieg’s – is the one risks radical change.

Update:

Via Emily Atkin’s Heated newsletter, Victor responds:
Victor also sharply criticized the Hill Heat article, accusing it of using deceptive language regarding his testimony in the youth climate lawsuit. “It is truly unbelievable,” he said. “This is the kind of factless innuendo that is why we have not made more progress on the climate problem, and it’s very disappointing to see.”

Because the lawsuit is against the Trump administration—and because Victor was paid to testify on the government’s side—the Hill Heat article described Victor as being “allied with the Trump administration against climate activists.” But Victor said he was brought on as a witness for the government when the case was originally brought against the Obama administration.

“Because of continuity of government, when the president changes, the government keeps on going. So Right now it’s Trump. Soon, it will hopefully be Buttigieg.”

Victor’s definition of “factless innuendo” seems to be “facts he doesn’t like.”

This is a fact: Victor is being paid by the Trump administration to testify against youth climate activists.

This, however, is an opinion: That he decided to work against youth climate activists when Barack Obama was president doesn’t make his decision less contemptible.

Constructing factless innuendo is left as an exercise for the reader.

Examining the Oil Industry’s Efforts to Suppress the Truth about Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 23 Oct 2019 14:00:00 GMT

The Subcommittee will examine how the oil industry’s climate denial campaign has negatively and disproportionately affected people of color and vulnerable populations in our country and around the world, as well as drowned out the voices of everyday Americans.

BACKGROUND

Decades of climate denialism by the oil industry forestalled meaningful government action to avert the current crisis. As early as the 1960s, oil giants like Exxon knew that climate change was real and that the burning of fossil fuels was a major contributor to the problem.

The lack of government action on climate change has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities who are often harmed “first and worst” by climate change.

Climate denial not only led to these devasting effects on vulnerable populations; it also represents a distortion of our democracy, as powerful, moneyed interests control the conversation and drown out the voices of average Americans who are paying the price of climate change.

Despite efforts to rehabilitate their image by pledging to stop supporting think tanks and lobbyists who promote climate denialism, Exxon has continued to fund climate deniers. Exxon still continues to fund organizations “steeped in climate denial and delay” to this day, clear evidence that it has not changed since its initial pivot from climate science to denial.

Despite the already devasting effects of climate change, Exxon shows no signs of slowing down on its production of fossil fuels. To the contrary, Exxon and other oil companies continue to explore for more oil, meaning they are not taking the problem of climate change or the development of alternative fuels seriously.

Witnesses:
  • Dr. Mustafa Ali, Vice President, Environmental Justice Climate and Community Revitalization, National Wildlife Federation
  • Dr. Ed Garvey, Former Exxon Scientist
  • Dr. Martin Hoffert, Former Exxon Consultant, Professor Emeritus, Physics, New York University
  • Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor, History of Science, Affiliated Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University
  • Sharon Eubanks, Esquire, Of Counsel, Henderson Law Firm, PLLC

Press Conference for House Resolution Encouraging Teaching about Climate Change in Schools

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:00:00 GMT

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) will introduce a House Resolution in support of teaching climate change in schools on Thursday, September 19th, 2019. A press conference will be held beforehand at 11:00 am at the U.S. House Triangle. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) will be speak about her support for the resolution and the urgency of addressing climate chance. Other members of Congress have also been invited.

Youth climate advocates Jonah Gottlieb (National Children’s Campaign), Kate Roney and Christian Hernandez (Schools for Climate Action), and an educator, Nancy Metzger-Carter (Sonoma Academy, UN Climate Change Teacher Academy) will also speak in support of the resolution.

Representative Lee worked with youth and teacher climate advocates to craft a House Resolution supporting the teaching of climate change in schools because “the global impact of climate change and the urgency and magnitude of the challenge of addressing climate change will eventually fall on current students.”

The House Resolution declares climate change a social justice, racial justice, and human rights issue that disproportionately affects students of color and students in poverty, thereby exacerbating existing inequalities and limiting equality of opportunity. It also refers to a 2019 resolution by the California Association of School Psychologists that declared climate change a potential threat to the psychological and social development of children, in addition to known negative health effects.

One of the lead groups that collaborated with Rep. Lee was Schools for Climate Action, an initiative of the National Children’s Campaign, is a nonpartisan, youth-adult campaign that helps school boards, students councils and educational sector organizations pass climate resolutions calling on Congress to act and bringing awareness that climate change a generational justice issue.

The resolution has been endorsed by: The National Children’s Campaign, Schools for Climate Action, Global Oneness Project, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, National Center for Science Education, Principles for Responsibility Investment, Paleontological Research Institution, Rethinking Schools, Sierra Club and Teacher’s Advocacy Committee.

National Children’s Campaign

National Children’s Campaign advocates on behalf of the nation’s 74 million children. It is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to serve as a catalyst to inspire, encourage and empower to make America’s children & youth a national priority by promoting health, education, safety, economic & environmental security through the power of strategic media and internet partnerships, experts, business and community leaders, celebrity spokespeople and grassroots effort.

Schools for Climate Action

Schools for Climate Action, A nonpartisan youth/adult campaign that works with the educational sector to pass climate resolutions that declare climate change as a generational justice issue and call on Congress to act.

Pushed By Climate Activists, New York Times Abandons Oil And Money Conference

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:28:00 GMT

The New York Times has dropped its long-running sponsorship of its highly lucrative Oil And Money conference, ceding to rising pressure from climate activists. The decision was announced on Twitter by the New York Times Climate team led by editor Hannah Fairfield. The tweet included a statement from the Times’ communications SVP, Eileen Murphy:

The New York Times has decided to end its relationship with the Oil & Money conference.

Over the last several years The Times has significantly expanded its reporting on climate change and its impact, as well as broader investigative and explanatory coverage of energy and environmental policy. We have a large team focused solely on the topic and in the last year alone we’ve traveled to every continent to document the effects of a warming planet.

While our partners in Oil & Money, Energy Intelligence, have always maintained high standards of independence and impartiality, the subject matter of the conference gives us cause for concern as we continue to invest in these consequential environmental issues. We want there to be no question of our independence or even the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.

We wish Energy Intelligence well as they continue to gather energy leaders, policy makers, and environmentalists to discuss how to sustainably meet the world’s rising energy needs.

The tweet, like much of The Times’ climate coverage even to this day, avoided directly stating that the fossil-fuel industry causes global warming.

Separately, Energy Intelligence announced the conference will be “renamed the Energy Intelligence Forum” because “the energy industry is changing, and as our conference program has evolved in recent years to address the challenges of climate change and the energy transition, we felt that our conference needed a new identity and a new mandate.”

The London-based conference, which gathers the world’s top oil executives, has been the target of protests for years. In 2014, climate activist Tamsin Ormond stormed the conference, shouting “Oil is fucking our future!

In 2015, members of Fossil Free London (@DivestLondon) staged a protest outside the conference, holding the banner “Climate Change: No Time To Party”: and blocking the award ceremony celebrating ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: The protesters mockingly threw cash at the executives as they entered the “Petroleum Executive of the Year” gala: Two of the protesters superglued their hands to the doors of a side entrance, and others tried to infiltrate the gala.

In 2016, the Divest London protests continued, with activists declaring a “Climate Crime Scene”:

The protests at the conference continued in 2017 and 2019.

In June 2019, Extinction Rebellion staged sit-in protests at The New York Times headquarters in Manhattan, blocking traffic on Eighth Avenue and scaling the NYT building with a large “Climate Emergency – Mass Murder” banner: About 70 protesters were arrested.

At the time, The Guardian’s Amanda Holpuch reported that The New York Times responded: “There is no national news organization that devotes more time, staff or resources to producing deeply reported coverage to help readers understand climate change than The New York Times.”

The New York Times did not report on the protest, which was covered by many other outlets.

The June protest focused on the tenor of The New York Times’ climate coverage and its acceptance of fossil-fuel advertising, not its sponsorship of the Oil & Money Conference. However, Extinction Rebellion NYC soon began to focus on the Oil & Money Conference, including it as a target in their August 7th die-in at Times headquarters and in an August 30 video appeal to the Times.

As DNC Votes to Kill Climate Debate, Biden Campaign Rescinds Support

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:38:00 GMT

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s resolutions committee voted down a resolution that would have established a climate debate for the presidential candidates, reflecting the wishes of frontrunner Joe Biden. However, the committee did open the door to candidates participating in a non-DNC-sanctioned climate debate, a significant victory for the youth activists leading the call. On Saturday, the full DNC voted that plan down 222 to 137, closing the door to any presidential climate debate.

DNC chair Tom Perez’s resolution to block a DNC climate debate passed the committee in an 17 to 8 vote.

At the DNC meeting in California, Biden spokesperson and DNC member Symone Sanders said it would be “dangerous” to hold a climate debate.

Mercury News’s Casey Tolan reported that Symone Sanders said a climate debate “would fundamentally change the game” of the established debate rules and would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”

In June, Biden had expressed unequivocal support for a debate exclusively on climate.

DNC members opposed to holding a climate debate include corporate lobbyist and CNN commentator Maria Cardona of the Dewey Square Group, who said “It will take away time from their knocking on doors, going to all of your states to be able to campaign.”

The Costs of Climate Change: From Coasts to Heartland, Health to Security

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Jul 2019 14:00:00 GMT

Last month, expert witnesses told us that the economic costs of climate change will be significant. But what will these costs look like for the individuals, businesses, and communities facing severe coastal flooding and storms, decreased agricultural productivity, increased health threats, and national risks to security? To answer this question, on July 24th, the House Budget Committee will hear testimony from five expert witnesses on the impacts of climate change to coastal communities, agricultural economies, public health, and national security – and the implications for the federal budget.

Climate change puts millions of people at risk from coastal flooding and storms — Coastal homes, businesses, infrastructure, and lives are threatened by more intense hurricanes, increased flooding, saltwater intrusion into freshwater supplies, and reduced fishery productivity. More than 300,000 residential and commercial coastal properties , valued at approximately $136 billion today, are projected to be at risk of chronic tidal flooding by 2045 – even absent heavy rains or storms. Major disasters related to hurricanes, severe storms, and flooding have been getting worse, too. In the last three years, such disasters caused more than 3,400 deaths in the United States, compared to less than 200 deaths over a similar period 35 years ago. By 2050, the risk of being hit by a category 4 or 5 hurricane could increase by 275 percent from 1980 levels, and eight out of nine U.S. real estate companies are already citing operational risks and costs from flooding and hurricanes in their environmental disclosures. Cumulative damages to coastal property from sea level rise and storm surge are projected to reach $3.6 trillion through 2100 unless we take action. The federal costs for flood prevention, flood insurance, and disaster response will grow. Flood insurance claims under the National Flood Insurance Program are already increasing, with the six costliest years all occurring since 2005, and federal spending on hurricane relief and recovery is projected to increase 33 percent faster than the growth in the economy by 2075.

Climate change will further strain farmers and the agricultural economy — The changing climate will lead to heat stress in plants and livestock, reduced soil health and moisture, shifts in pollination, and greater pressure from weeds, pests, and diseases. These changes will result in declining crop yields and livestock and poultry productivity , increased rates of crop failure, and reduced food nutrition. For example, hotter temperatures and a doubling of water deficits by midcentury are expected to reduce corn yields in Indiana by 16 to 20 percent, reduce soybean yields by 9 to 11 percent, and double the number of livestock heat stress days. The average inflation-adjusted price of crops is projected to increase 20 percent by 2050 . Planting alternate crops, new farm and soil management practices, and emerging technologies can help farmers adapt but come at a cost for agricultural communities already under significant financial pressure. The federal government will also absorb additional costs. For example, climate change could increase crop insurance costs for corn, soybeans, and wheat by 40 percent by 2080.

Climate change is the greatest public health challenge of the 21st century — More than 90 health organizations have jointly identified climate change as a public health emergency, and children, pregnant women, older adults, outdoor workers, and low-income and marginalized communities are disproportionately vulnerable. By midcentury, more than 90 million people in the United States – a 100-fold increase – will experience 30 or more days with a heat index above 105°F in an average year. Such extreme heat and heat waves will increase hospitalization for heatstroke and cardiovascular, respiratory, and kidney disorders and could cause thousands of deaths annually. Degraded air quality and higher pollen concentrations will increase the incidence of respiratory illnesses, heart attacks, asthma, and allergies. More people will be exposed to infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks (such as Zika and Lyme disease), toxic algal blooms, and waterborne diseases. Cases of tickborne disease have already more than doubled from 2004 to 2016. Severe storms can disrupt critical healthcare systems and infrastructure for months, as well as directly costing lives. The costs to the public health system and federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, although not yet quantified, are likely to be significant.

Climate change threatens defense readiness and stability around the world — The intelligence community, senior defense officials, and Department of Defense (DOD) strategies and plans have consistently identified climate change as a national security challenge and threat multiplier. U.S. military facilities, operations, and equipment are vulnerable to storms, sea level rise, flooding, wildfires, and drought. In just the last year, hurricane and flood damage to Camp Lejeune and Tyndall and Offutt Air Force Bases will require $8.5 billion to repair – and the DOD assesses that approximately two-thirds of mission assurance priority installations are at risk. Melting sea ice is opening the Arctic to increased competition with Russia and China for natural resources and access to sea routes. Globally, climate change will exacerbate food and water insecurity, infectious disease outbreaks, natural resource scarcity, commodity price shocks, economic distress and inequality, natural disaster severity, and population displacement and migration. These in turn will increase the risk of social unrest, political instability, and conflict abroad – and increase the frequency, scale, complexity, and cost of future DOD missions.

At this upcoming hearing, the Budget Committee will continue to examine the challenges that climate change poses to the American people and economy, building on its June hearing and looking more closely at specific sectors.

Witnesses
  • Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., Executive Director, American Public Health Association
  • Stefani Millie Grant, Senior Manager for External Affairs and Sustainability, Unilever
  • Rear Admiral Lower Half Ann C. Phillips, Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection, Office of the Governor of Virginia
  • Rich Powell, Executive Director, ClearPath
  • Rear Admiral Upper Half David W. Titley, Ph.D., Affiliate Professor of Meteorology and of International Affairs, Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, The Pennsylvania State University

Environmental Organizations Cross Racial Divides To Present Climate Justice Platform

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Jul 2019 19:11:00 GMT

In an encouraging sign for those seeking to make the vision of the Green New Deal a reality, a coalition of mostly white environmental organizations and predominantly black environmental justice organizations have released the “Equitable & Just National Climate Platform.”

The platform is a vision statement for American climate justice policy, with signatories “committed to advancing a bold and equitable national climate agenda and believe that all people and all communities have the right to breathe clean air, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, access healthy food, and share the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant clean economy.”

The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists are also members of the BlueGreen Alliance which released a similar labor-focused platform in June.

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.

Download Equitable & Just National Climate Platform or read the text below:

AN EQUITABLE AND JUST NATIONAL CLIMATE AGENDA

To effectively build an inclusive, just, and clean-energy economy, the national climate agenda must achieve the following:

No community left behind

All communities have a right to live free from exposure to dangerous toxic pollution in their soil as well as in the air they breathe, the food they eat, and the water they drink. Yet persistent racial and economic inequalities—and the forces that cause them—embedded throughout our society have concentrated toxic polluters near and within communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities. These underlying social forces, including persistent and systematic racial discrimination and economic inequality, have created disproportionately high environmental and public health risks in these areas relative to wealthier white neighborhoods. The national climate policy agenda must address this environmental injustice head-on by prioritizing climate solutions and other policies that also reduce pollution in these legacy communities at the scale needed to significantly improve their public health and quality of life. The agenda must also build the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fulfill its mission to protect the nation’s health and the environment by developing and enforcing effective regulations for all communities.

A healthy climate and air quality

The devastating and costly consequences of climate change threaten the health, safety, and livelihoods of people across the country. Generations of economic and social injustice have put communities on the frontlines of climate change effects. The national climate policy agenda must have as its foundation policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and locally harmful air pollution at the ambitious scale and speed needed to avoid the worst and most costly health impacts, especially for the most vulnerable communities and communities coping with the legacy pollution from the present economy. This includes reducing emissions in low-income areas and communities of color—EJ communities—through a suite of policies, including climate mitigation policy. The agenda must mobilize vast new resources to reduce carbon pollution, curb locally harmful pollution, and build resilience to improve the health, safety, and livability of all communities in a climate-changed world.

Reduction in cumulative impacts

History shows that environmental regulation does not necessarily mean healthy environments for all communities. Many communities suffer from the cumulative effects of multiple pollution sources. A national climate policy agenda that addresses climate pollution must not abandon or diminish the important goal of reducing toxic pollution in all its forms. Climate solutions must be part of a comprehensive approach to reducing legacy environmental and economic impacts on communities and be designed intentionally to ensure that they do not impose further risks. Strategies to address climate change must not disproportionately benefit some communities while imposing costs on others. In fact, the national climate policy agenda should be used to reduce the disproportionate amount of pollution that is often found in EJ communities and that is associated with cumulative impacts, public health risks, and other persistent challenges.

An inclusive, just, and pollution-free energy economy

The shift to a sustainable, just, and equitable energy future requires innovative forms of investment and governance that distribute the benefits of this transition equitably and justly. This includes investing in the development of innovative decentralized models of energy provision; community governance and ownership; incorporation of social and health benefits into energy systems planning; incentivizing the inclusion of equity into future energy investment through public programs; and supporting public and private research and development to include equity considerations in new technology development.

The national climate policy agenda must drive a rapid shift toward a pollution-free, inclusive, and just economy as well as create high-quality jobs with family-sustaining wages and safe and healthy working conditions. Breaking down the barriers that produce unemployment and underemployment must be a priority. Workers must be treated fairly and supported through investments in workforce and job training programs, especially in communities with disproportionately high underemployed and unemployed populations and in communities that have been historically reliant on fossil fuel extraction and energy production.

Access to affordable energy

The national climate policy agenda must significantly reduce domestic energy vulnerability and poverty by addressing the problem of high energy cost burdens. To live and prosper in today’s society, access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is a basic need in daily life and fundamental to achieving rights related to health, environmental quality, education, and food and income security. Given the disparities in the housing stock and infrastructure across communities, it is imperative that future energy systems provide affordable energy access that ensures a healthy standard of living that provides for the basic needs of children and families. The nation needs bold new leadership that will ensure access to sustainable energy, including by supporting investments in cooperative and nonprofit energy organizations; community and stakeholder engagement and participation in energy planning; public-private partnerships; and renewable and energy efficiency demonstration projects in our most vulnerable communities.

A healthy transportation and goods movement system

As a major contributor to climate and air pollution, we must build the next century’s transportation system to ensure healthy air quality for all communities. This will require massive investment in affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable transportation. As with other sectors, the transportation system has a direct effect on economic and social opportunities. Public resources and planning decisions affect patterns of urban development and the structure of local economies, including where jobs and employment are located. The transportation sector is also responsible for providing accessibility to basic human needs. Therefore, transportation planning must ensure affordable transportation that provides for community members’ mobility and access to daily activities and services, including jobs, education, health care, affordable housing, and social networks.

Clean and affordable energy and transportation through an increased and appropriate level of new federal investment in zero-emissions transportation options for all community members in both rural and urban areas must be a priority. This includes programs to scale up investment in public transit; zero-emissions transit buses, diesel trucks, and school buses; and accessible and affordable adoption of electric cars. We also need smart planning that will make our communities safe for pedestrian and bicycle travel.

The goods movement system that distributes raw materials and consumer products currently relies on diesel engines that produce emissions that have significant health and environmental effects on workers and members of surrounding communities. A national climate policy agenda must reduce pollution by advancing a zero-emissions goods movement transportation system to protect the health of workers as well as fenceline and frontline communities and ensure that they benefit from new clean transportation technology development.

Safe, healthy communities and infrastructure

Climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and creates new risks in our communities. As a result, climate change presents historic challenges to human health and our quality of life. Communities across the country need a national climate policy agenda that will mobilize the massive investments necessary to prepare for climate change impacts. Climate solutions provide opportunities for localized benefits that enhance the quality of life for all communities, including by improving local air quality, access to healthy food, local economic development, public health, and community vitality.

We need to build housing and infrastructure that can withstand more powerful storms, floods, heat waves, cold snaps, and wildfires; reduce carbon and air pollution in areas with high cumulative pollution; build a more sustainable food and agricultural system; and expand access to family-sustaining jobs and other economic opportunities. As climate change deteriorates air quality, increases vector-borne disease and allergens, and contributes to a host of other public health threats, we must ensure full access to health care for all. The national climate policy agenda must prioritize investments in communities that are the most vulnerable to climate change, including in health monitoring and research to provide rigorous and reliable research on our progress.

Economic diversity and community wealth building

A national climate policy agenda must acknowledge the continuing increase in wealth and income inequality that plagues our communities. This growing wealth gap makes inclusive local economic development a priority for communities and governments. Economic diversification is critical to effectively address climate change and reduce economic and social vulnerability. We must create and support strategies that shift away from high pollution products and production processes toward those that are low-emission and sustainable. This also includes investments in innovative and worker-supported economic organizations such as cooperatives and other community wealth-building strategies.

Anti-displacement, relocation, and the right to return

A national climate policy agenda must ensure that sustainable investments for both mitigation and adaptation do not impose costs—both social and otherwise—on overburdened and vulnerable communities. Therefore, it is essential that we as a nation invest resources to eliminate barriers to and provide affordable and safe housing for all community members. It is imperative that new investments in resilient infrastructure in communities that have been historically disinvested be a national priority.

Climate-related events are already having severe and often devastating effects on communities, including requiring people to evacuate and relocate out of harm’s way. These types of events are expected to become even more intense and damaging in the future. Leaders at all levels of government must recognize their duty and responsibility to support displaced families to return to their communities or to relocate to places of their choosing. This includes prioritizing public and private investments to rebuild affordable and accessible housing and transportation for residents who have been displaced due to climate and other disaster events—including those with the least resources and ability to respond—and to ensure that displaced people can participate in the planning and management of their return or relocation.

To effectively address the steady rise in climate-related and other disasters, the national climate policy agenda must support equitable and responsive relocation planning and investment in the wake of such events as well as proactively help to protect communities from climate change effects and displacement. In places exposed to extreme climate risks, planned relocation must provide for the improvement of community members’ living standards. Social cohesion is a foundation for community well-being, and, therefore, relocation must strive to maintain and support family unity as well as community and kinship ties. The economic and social disruption to communities that require relocation have significant health, economic, and emotional impacts. It is imperative that relocated community members have access to a full range of health and economic services and the right to choose their residence.

Water access and affordability

Climate change affects the water cycle, which in turn affects the nation’s water quality and supply. The nation’s drinking water infrastructure is already in dire need of massive investment. The national climate policy agenda requires solutions that take into account the effects of climate change on this stressed water infrastructure. As we develop climate solutions, we must focus on avoiding those which impair or burden aquifers, lakes, rivers, and oceans.

A comprehensive infrastructure plan that will focus on water and other basic necessities—specifically for communities that have already experienced significant health and economic impacts—is of the highest priority. Investments must prioritize communities that are already affected by inadequate, harmful, and health-impairing water infrastructure. Bold new leadership is needed to ensure that all community members have access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water as well as to maintain and protect water as a common resource. Access to clean water is a basic human right that we must protect for all children and families. As we develop climate solutions, we must avoid those that harm or burden oceans, lakes, rivers, and waterways.

Self-determination, land access, and redevelopment

A national climate policy agenda must be predicated on the principle that land is fundamental to the exercise of community self-determination. Land is integrally tied to community and cultural identity, and its use is directly related to community members’ ability to meet their social, economic, and cultural needs. Urban and rural development and redevelopment must not lead to greater socioeconomic gaps or escalating costs that displace community members. These projects must result in lower pollution emissions for the surrounding community. It is imperative that programs and initiatives to protect and redevelop the environment promote community wealth building and economic diversity that directly benefit local community residents.

Funding and research

A national climate policy agenda must include funding for climate research on equity and climate issues. This research must effectively address equity and justice in climate planning and policy and be at a scale and level of rigor that has been historically invested in previous carbon-mitigation policies and programs. Public and private supporters of these past efforts have a moral obligation to also invest in the needs of communities that have been made vulnerable by past environmental, energy, and economic policies. If we do not sufficiently fund and perform EJ and equity research as it relates to climate change, then climate change policy and research has a significant potential to perpetuate and even exacerbate inequalities rooted in race and income.

U.S. responsibility for climate action and international cooperation

We must aim to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels by 2050. The national climate policy agenda must ensure that the United States acts effectively, responsibly, equitably, and justly to achieve this goal. This requires advancing global climate justice, including by committing to even more ambitious emission reduction goals in the future to contribute our fair share in the global effort to stabilize the climate system, and committing financial resources for least-developed nations to cope with the impacts of climate change. We must do this by radically scaling up both U.S. domestic actions and international cooperation in ways that end poverty and inequality; build sustainable communities and cities; improve public health and well-being; and reach universal achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

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