Environmental and Climate Justice
ARTICLES ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE
Interview by Dayton Martindale
"Six years ago, the climate movement decided to stop the Keystone pipeline. As David Roberts at Vox has said, it was not just about changing one pipeline but changing the culture. Watching that process take place up close is boring. There were bad meetings and demonstrations that aren’t always triumphs.
But then you pull back and, oh my God, six years later, we defeated the northern stretch of the pipeline and we’re in a completely different place with the climate movement."
The roots of the environmental justice movement lie in an archetypical struggle between low-income communities of color and industrial polluters—refineries, incinerators, landfills, and dirty ports, to name a few. In the last few years, leaders of this movement have worked ardently to infuse an environmental politic into racial and economic justice campaigns and to underscore local control of common resources and community-based solutions to social and ecological ills.
Now the fruits of this labor are becoming evident. What was seen as isolated pockets of noxious industrial impacts are now being viewed as symptoms of larger phenomena that create other social inequities. People are connecting the impacts of toxic industry to other injustices, such as forced migration and poverty jobs, and coming together to address these multiple crises.
On a hot July afternoon in Detroit last summer, over 300 movement organizers from across the United States gathered to plot a course for ecological justice as part of the U.S. Social Forum. “We come from environmental justice communities who have been on the frontlines of the effects of polluting industries like waste incineration. But [we] also come from economic justice struggles... and immigrant [communities that] understand the connection between land and life,” said Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, strategy initiatives director for Movement Generation based in Oakland, California.
By Amanda "Panda" Deda
Coalition Challenges California to Legislate Climate Equity
By Kay Cuajunco, Photos by Brooke Anderson
On August 25th, community leaders from across the state converged on the steps of the Capitol to demand climate policies that benefit and protect low-income communities and communities of color. In commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, residents from some of the state’s most pollution-impacted communities stood in solidarity with frontline communities across the nation, urging their legislators to pass policies to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and ensure another Katrina doesn’t happen again.
By Amy Vanderwarker
In 2014, there was a rare occurrence in California: a new revenue stream of hundreds of millions of dollars—$872 million, to be exact, with more anticipated in future years — being funneled to state agencies through the newly implemented cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
On October 31, 2014, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced that, as expected, it will use the statewide cumulative impact screening tool, CalEnviroScreen2.0, to define “disadvantaged communities” for the purposes of distributing climate change funding. The top 25 percent of communities identified by this tool will be considered “disadvantaged” for the purposes of the set-aside within the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Suddenly, how “disadvantaged community” is defined took on a lot more importance to a lot more people than it ever has in the past.
"The growing “bio-economy” is based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” —Gopal Dayaneni
Dr. Vandana Shiva, the internationally known author, scientist and advocate for small farmers and agroecology, spoke with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California in September 2013. This conversation was part of a series of conversations hosted by the group synbiowatch.org that expose the growing “bio-economy,” which Dayaneni calls “an economy based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” U.C. Berkeley, The Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the private corporations that are subsidized by it, are central to this developing bio-economy. The federal government and multinational corporations see the bioeconomy as a new frontier to be conquered.
Why Oakland Can’t Afford to Keep Ignoring Urban Forestry
By Eric K. Arnold
Ten a.m. on a spring day in March and the sun was already blazing with mid-day intensity as a circle of people gathered at Wo’se Church of the African Way/Ile Omode charter school—a center of spirituality and learning for the East Oakland community—for a tree planting ceremony. Greg Hodge, a former Oakland school board president and father of nationally-known poet and playwright Chinaka Hodge, led the impromptu congregation, which included local residents, volunteers, and tree stewards from the nonprofit urban forestry organization Urban Releaf.
By Joana Cruz
On October 24, 2015, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, Dancing Earth will team up with Audiopharmacy Prescriptions Collective to bring about the Seeds & Soul Indigenous Cultural Exchange & Festival. The free festival will provide a creative, inclusive and welcoming environment where art, dance, spoken word, and music will be modelled as tools for community resilience and social change to raise awareness about issues, such as environmental sustainability, which affect Native and non-native peoples.
By Jess Clarke
The 2014 climate assessment from the UN panel on climate change is the most dire ever issued.1 These climate impacts are hitting our communities now. California is in the grips of a three-year drought—the worst since it became a state—that is already threatening water supplies, worsening air quality and beginning to drive up food prices.2 International climate policy has stalled. Symbolic agreements, such as the one the Obama administration made with the Chinese leadership in November 2014, have few if any enforceable limits. And while the federal EPA has only just begun rulemaking to limit carbon emissions, the decades-long struggle of California’s environmental justice communities to shape a climate policy that inserts equity into the climate conversation is a notable bright spot.