Working with partners inside and outside our community is crucial to any successful movement.
Building relationships allows for a broader diversity of perspectives at the table, ensuring that any action taken considers the unique needs of different communities. Especially in climate and environmental justice, different populations and communities have different concerns and experience different impact around climate solutions. Poor communities worry about rising energy costs; communities reliant on fossil fuel jobs worry about supporting their families; indigenous communities are concerned about their sacred lands being destroyed; coastal communities worry about sea level rise -- and the list goes on.
Here are some specific communities you can reach out to in order to build relationships and partnerships:
- Communities of Color - Coal power plants and toxic waste sites are more heavily concentrated in communities of color. Because of this disproportionate exposure, African American and Latino children are more likely than white children to be poisoned by lead and to have asthma. African American communities also have disproportionately high rates of asthma and cancer clusters. Any solution to climate impacts must recognize these disproportionate impacts and rectify these injustices.
- Low-income Communities – Low-income communities are deeply impacted by both the impacts of and solutions for climate change. Low-income communities often have the least resilience to climate impacts such as severe weather storms and often live in communities with worse infrastructure. Additionally, solutions to climate change, such as a carbon tax, might disproportionately impact low-income communities if not constructed properly. Low-income communities must be able to participate in the solutions to climate change without falling further behind.
- Indigenous Communities – Indigenous communities in North America have a unique relationship to the land that impacts their approach to climate solutions. These communities have substantial knowledge about land and land use that we can learn from. Additionally, pipeline construction and oil and gas exploration often result in the desecration or shrinking of indigenous sacred sites. Working with local indigenous communities is another important aspect of finding robust climate solutions.
- Other Faith Communities - ‘Creation Care,’ to borrow from evangelical groups, is an issue where a majority of the interfaith community including Quakers, Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’i, and Protestants can work harmoniously on policy solutions. This partnership is visible at the national level and can be replicated at every community level.
- Other Key Stakeholders – Many people suffer from health impacts related to climate change, including temperature-related illnesses, air-quality impacts, and impacts from extreme weather events. Extreme weather can lead to diseases from insect bites such as Lyme disease or malaria, contaminated drinking water, and inaccessibility to proper nutrition, which can impact mental health as well. Pursuing climate justice means supporting vulnerable communities to adapt to changes that are already underway and helping communities, as well as medical professionals, prepare for future effects.
Additional stakeholders are communities who rely on fossil fuel industry jobs, such as communities near coal mines or oil rigs. A key component of climate work is ensuring that these communities can have economic opportunities to support themselves, including job retraining, mine restoration, and a place in the new green economy.