Environmental/Climate Justice

We Can Decarbonize Heavy Industry. Here's How.

Climate pollution from heavy industry has long been deemed "hard-to-abate". That's far from the truth—technological solutions are at hand, and a smart policy agenda can drive industrial decarbonization to put us on track for key climate targets. To get it done, this resource argues that we need to put industry at the center of climate policy and advocacy. For too long, the climate community has left the industrial sector at the bottom of its to-do list.

How to incorporate climate justice in the language classroom

Language teachers have a key role in ensuring that students not only engage with the climate crisis but with climate justice too. Developing students’ understanding of these cause-and-effect connections that affect people around the world is just one of the aspects to focus on the language classroom to raise awareness of climate justice. To engage students and teach them the importance of cross-disciplinary collaborations, consider teaming up with other teachers for projects and involve students in decision making as much as possible.

Promoting Equitable Wildfire Recovery in Lahaina: Four Lessons for Local Leaders, from Colorado’s Marshall Fire

The Marshall Fire was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history. Before the Marshall Fire, 97 percent of homeowners had insurance compared with 70 percent of renters. And a year after the fire, renters were significantly more likely to be displaced from their home (62 percent) compared with homeowners (40 percent). Renters face other challenges too, with 63 percent of those still living in the same property as before the fire reporting that their landlord had raised their rent. The number of respondents who agreed that “as our community rebuilds, we should work to provide more affordable housing in this area” fell between survey waves by 9 percentage points, and the drop was especially pronounced among those who suffered the greatest damage, where support for affordable housing fell by 15 points, from 62 percent to 47 percent. After the Marshall Fire, we found 36 percent of survey respondents attended a fire-related meeting, but only 23 percent of households earning less than $75,000 per year did. Similarly, 39 percent of homeowners reported attending a meeting, versus 14 percent of renters. Among the survey respondents who were 55 years old or older, 39 percent attended a meeting, compared with 37 percent of respondents ages 35–54 and just 20 percent of those ages 18–34.

Oil and Gas Workers Reveal Their Real Working Conditions

True Transition, an organization composed of fossil fuel workers, recently released their “American Oil and Gas Workers Survey.” It provides the answers given by 1649 oil and gas workers to 38 questions about their jobs and work lives. Among their findings: over half of the survey respondents have lost their jobs at least once previously to 2020, evidence that the oil and gas industry has already been systematically reducing its workforce; more than half of the survey respondents lost their jobs in 2020; workers expressed anxiety about not being able to do anything else outside of the oil and gas industry and a preference for work that utilized existing competencies; just under half of survey respondents believe that their company’s safety program was explicitly or implicitly designed to shift liability of an accident onto the worker; a third of survey respondents indicated that they had been ordered to engage in unsafe working practices that were in direct violation of established safety practices; crew sizes are shrinking with more work expected of each worker. Smaller upstream operators appear to be under staffed intentionally to save money; newer, younger hires are not being trained adequately.

What Happens to the Workers When Oil Refineries Close?

There are ways to mitigate the harmful effects of job loss when fossil fuel workers lose their jobs. On October 30, 2020, the Marathon oil refinery in Contra Costa County, California, was permanently shut down and 345 unionized workers laid off. 74% of former Marathon workers (excluding retirees) had found new jobs. Nearly one in five (19%) were not employed but actively searching for work. Their unemployment rate was 22.5% Their jobs paid $12 per hour less than their Marathon jobs, a 24% cut in pay. Here are ways support displaced workers, including: extended cash payments to maintain pre-layoff income levels; financial support to cover the 24% average gap in workers’ pre-layoff wages and their post-layoff wages; bridge-to-retirement funding that provides full retirement benefits to workers eligible for early retirement within one year following layoff.

Biden’s Fossil Fuel Fail: How U.S. Oil & Gas Supply Rises under the Inflation Reduction Act

The United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) fails to reduce fossil fuel production or alleviate impact on environmental justice communities. Rather than set the United States on a path toward a managed phase-out of fossil fuels, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Biden administration’s policies are set to lead to a significant increase in U.S. oil and gas extraction and soaring exports. This finding makes a mockery of President Joe Biden’s claims of “climate leadership” and signals that without additional action to constrain oil and gas production, the suffering of oil and gas frontline communities will only grow. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities, especially in Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, and the Permian Basin, are disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel pollution, climate disasters, and health impacts.

Funding a Clean and Equitable Energy Transition: Lessons from California

California has been investing in a clean energy transition for decades, and, in recent years, has increasingly targeted funds to under-resourced and marginalized communities. Other states and the federal government have likewise stepped up. There is much to learn from California’s considerable experience. Our report series analyzes California’s decision-making structures — the processes that determine priorities and the mechanisms that turn broad justice principles into action. Our analysis and recommendations are intended to improve California’s programs, help emerging state programs consider the strengths and weaknesses of California’s institutional landscape, and influence emerging federal funding mechanisms.

Race Class Narrative (RCN) Messaging Checklist

Open with a shared value. Reference race in the shared value. State a problem after the shared value. Name villains who use racial scapegoating or division as a weapon that hurts all of us. Uplift victories and/or everyday collective actions that solve problems(s) across race. Focus on tangible outcomes, not policies or procedures. Give a clear call to action. Share what we are for without repeating the opposition’s language. Use simple, everyday language.