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Announcing EPA’s Climate Justice in Action Series

2014 June 25

By Mustafa Santiago Ali

Untitled-2Climate change is real, its impacts are enormous, and we are already seeing these effects across the planet today. And while we are deeply engaged in a discourse about the extent of the disruptions and devastation that a changing and destabilized climate causes, we don’t talk nearly enough about how those burdens will be shared in our country.

Wreckage From Hurricane Katrina

Wreckage From Hurricane Katrina

You see, not all people bear an equal amount of the burden posed by climate change. The sad truth is the majority of the impacts will be felt in our more vulnerable communities, in neighborhoods filled with people who are already struggling to get by. In low income communities, these impacts have already been distressing, including heat-related illness and death; respiratory ailments; increases in the proliferation of infectious diseases; unaffordable rises in energy costs; loss of farm land, and crushing natural disasters.

It’s also under-appreciated that within these same communities, the seeds of positive action are being sown to adapt and be more resilient to climate change. Thousands of individuals and organizations in low income areas and communities of color are joining hands on the frontlines to counteract the effects of climate change. These actions are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making our cities and towns more resilient to its effects, and doing everything they can to offset these impending challenges.

And that’s why I am excited to start the conversation with EPA’s Climate Justice in Action Series. Climate justice is a movement that has been defined by its stakeholders – in the grassroots, in academia, in government – and so rather than EPA attempting to articulate what climate justice is, this blog series will allow you to help define and expand the boundaries of climate justice.

Click on the Map and Follow the Instructions to Share your Story!

 

We have also created an interactive Climate Justice in Action Map. You can use the map below to submit your story and provide further perspective. When you tell us about what you are doing, make sure to describe how your work is improving your communities right now. We need to make clear that when we talk about climate justice, we are not just talking about saving the planet for future generations, but also about creating good paying jobs, healthier and safer communities, and preventing future economic devastation by mitigating the effects of climate change.

Untitled-7Lastly, in order to truly turn the tide on climate change, we all need to work collaboratively. My hope is that through this climate justice campaign you just might think about things a little differently. You may read about projects from other stakeholders that make the light bulb go off for you. Hopefully you contribute your knowledge and share what you’ve learned so others can build from your experience.

We’ll do our part to share your stories. Throughout the summer we will be highlighting your submissions in various ways. At the conclusion of the campaign, we will compile and share all of the stories to keep the conversation going. So, please participate, join the conversation, and make this a meaningful dialogue about how we can work together to put climate justice in action. Your comments and contributions will give a fuller and richer understanding of climate justice than EPA could accomplish alone.

About the author: Mustafa Ali currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice at EPA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. June 25, 2014

    Great job! Love the climate justice map. Looking forward to hearing stories about real impact from community initiatives.

  2. Jason permalink
    June 25, 2014

    Wow, I love this idea and it is great to see that EPA is recognizing “Climate Justice” and its great to see that the first blog is coming from Mustafa Ali a long time champion for communities, environmental justice and social justice issues!

  3. Robert permalink
    June 25, 2014

    Allowing communities to share their innovative projects and ideas on addressing the impacts from climate change is an excellent idea. There are so many stakeholders who are partnering and doing some great work on climate justice issues. I look forward to reading the stories. I’m glad my tax dollars are being put to good use and helping to empower others.I will definitely share this with my networks.

    Robert

  4. Derek permalink
    June 25, 2014

    All great points. Environmental justice is an issue that is not discussed enough, and it disproportionately affects those in low income communities where life can be enough of a struggle already. Combine that with the impacts of climate change, this is no doubt a very pressing issue. I’m glad this is something that the EPA has taken on the initiative for!

  5. Mirabel Weriwoh permalink
    June 25, 2014

    Awesome initiative. Great job! I will definitely share the word, for we really need each other with our respective expertise to alleviate the negative impact of climate change,thus creating a proportionate healthy and safe milieu for everybody. Keep up the good work! Courage! The map is also a great interactive tool…

  6. michaelann bewsee permalink
    July 4, 2014

    I don’t get it. Seeing as industry and business are almost entirely responsible for climate change and environmental injustice, how, as organizers, can we accomplish anything without taking industry and business on? Now, occasionally industry will innovate on its own, or with a minimum amount of pressure from a community, but all too often it is a fight for our lives. Are we to jump to the victories (when they occur) and forget about the struggle?

  7. Mel Wilkinson permalink
    July 5, 2014

    Mustafa you are correct that not all people will bear an equal amount of the burden posed by climate change and that is why we must view the impacts and opportunities in a comprehensive way. Climate Justice helps to ensure that those ideas and the voice of the community are a part of the decision making on these life changing issues we all will have to deal with.

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