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A transition to renewable energy in America will have a multiplier effect beyond merely reducing our emissions. . As Jennie Stephens, a Professor at Northeastern University, told Yale Climate Connections, this transition can also create positive social change in other arenas. In her words, “We really need to think about…connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about, whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health, and well-being.” To make these connections, she notes, “a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential.”
As we build a greener future, we must work to ensure that we’re not recreating systems that deny people of color equity and sovereignty just with cleaner energy sources.
Why This Matters: Activists have long noted that climate justice is social justice, and cannot be separated from the myriad of other issues of inequality it intersects with. But often, as many sources have noted, climate advocacy and sustainable energy groups employ “homogenous” and “insular” hiring practices, which lead to the phenomena of the “green ceiling”.
A Deeper Issue: This lack of diversity and marginalization of BIPOC voices within the climate sector looms large. As Jason Carney, a solar installer, told All Things Considered,“Going into [a] boardroom, I’m the only person of color. We go to these conferences, and I’m the only person of color. We go to the U.S. Green Building Council — the local chapter — and of 200 people, it might be me and maybe one other person of color. It was very intimidating.”
But the onus of changing the system cannot fall only on people of color. We all must work to create a more just and equitable system. That means, as Lyn Griffith Taylor argues, a “real commitment– and real courage– from the often homogenous senior leadership of big green groups to curtail the insular hiring practices that cut off opportunities for people of color.”
A seat at the table is, of course, not a cure-all in the fight to undo centuries of structural racism in environmentalism. But, to quote Lyn Griffith Taylor, “I fear that without diverse leadership representing the experiences of communities most impacted by energy injustice, the clean energy transition will fall short of its progressive goals.”
The Biden administration is hoping to move the United States into the electric vehicle era through massive investments in incentives to get EVs on the road as well as the build-out of 500,000 EV charging stations across the country. Yet this revolution is reliant upon Americans making the switch to EVs in mass numbers. As […]
Recently, Transportation for America’s Director Beth Osborne sat down to speak with former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (now, Chief Policy Officer at Lyft) about how a massive investment in infrastructure can address inequality and provide innovative transportation solutions for a multitude of communities. From micro mobility, to reassessing freeways, and the expansion of public transit, […]
This week we sat down with Congressman Ted Lieu who represents California’s 33rd Congressional district. His district also happens to be one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in the nation where wildfires, extreme heat, and sea-level rise are creating conditions that necessitate comprehensive climate action from the federal government. More specifically, the Congressman told us […]
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