Archive Page 2

Why The U.S. is NOT a Democracy

by climatekaos

The perenially insightful Noam Chomsky recently wrote a compelling article elucidating facts and myths about our historic election, and what it means for our society. “A Grassroots Army of Millions” ready to take instructions while contributing nothing meaningful to The Program.  Here’s an excerpt:

“In some ways the election followed familiar patterns. The McCain campaign was honest enough to announce clearly that the election wouldn’t be about issues. Sarah Palin’s hairdresser received twice the salary of McCain’s foreign policy adviser, the Financial Times reported, probably an accurate reflection of significance for the campaign. Obama’s message of “hope” and “change” offered a blank slate on which supporters could write their wishes.”

Carbon Tax or Trade and Pork?

By climatekaos

My work as an EJCC intern has exposed me to the fact that everyone but business lobbyists and the politians whom they openly buy and support seems to favor a Carbon tax as a means of policy redressal for emissions control. Why does Obama so ardently support cap and trade?

EJCC False Solutions Statement

By Nia Robinson

The Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative stands in solidarity with climate justice advocates worldwide calling for real change and the abandonment of false solutions. Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM’s) and other industry driven solutions are oppressive on both ends, disproportionately harming communities that are the most vulnerable to the causes and effects of climate change. CDM’s allow corporations in the North to continue polluting people of color, Indigenous Peoples and low income communities while offsetting their emissions through investments in projects that devastate communities in the global south. The CDM is just one in a laundry list of flawed mitigation options.

EJCC rejects false solutions such as offsets, nuclear energy, and “clean” coal technology that continue to exacerbate existing problems of inequity and environmental degradation. Real solution to the climate crisis require investments in renewable energy, a just transition for workers, and involvement of communities in the decision making process. From the Capitol to the COP in Copenhagen, EJCC will work to advance solutions that offer the opportunity for real energy independence, freedom from fossil fuel addiction and a rebound from a global recession into the New Green Economy.

The Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC) has been at the forefront of reframing the climate change debate to focus on equity and justice in the U.S. since 2001. EJCC is a diverse coalition working to amplify the voices of marginalized COMMUNITIES unduly burdened by the causes and effects of climate change. EJCC will distribute it’s newest report “A Climate of Change: African Americans, Global Warming, and a Just Climate Policy for the U.S.,” in Poznan.

Everyone’s got one.

…an opinion on climate change, that is.

Well, here’s ours, but it’s bolstered with facts and substantial evidence that climate change exacerbates nearly all existing inequalities.

Find full report here. http://www.ejcc.org/climateofchange.pdf

Have you seen those bumper stickers that say “Erase Racism?” I just hope our plea to join forces and demand climate justice don’t amount to a new bumper sticker that says “Change Climate Change.” We have to actually do something, people. For example, demand that our government cut fossil fuel exploration and use, move to renewable energy immediately and not leave those already suffering from years of inaction behind.

Changing the “us” vs. “them” mentality

When it comes to finding solutions to common ills, there is no “them”; there’s only “us.”

That was the first thing my professor taught us in what came to be called his “Save the world” class. No policy, program, or path was viable if in solving one problem, it created another. And yet, so often it feels like the environment and economy are pitted in a battle to the death, where only one gets the winning policy. But how could these policy solutions truly solve anything, if they just end up hurting us more, in some other way? I believe that everything is connected and that the environment, economy, and equity are actually mutually reinforcing—meaning, we don’t have to sacrifice either one on the path of progress.

For example, industries make money off of pollution—meaning, the more they pollute, the more they make, the more they sell, and the more they earn. They often lobby for policies that benefit them, because sometimes reducing pollutants is an expensive ordeal. But win-win solutions do exist: Starting decades ago, the 3M Company reformulated products and redesigned manufacturing processes to eliminate more than 140,000 metric tons of solid and hazardous wastes, 4 billion liters of wastewater, and 80,000 metric tons of air pollution each year. Not only did these new processes help the environment, but they also saved 3M money by using less energy and fewer raw materials. I doubt that 3M would have been so enthused about helping the environment if it didn’t benefit them directly in some way as well. Still today, 3M is committed to its environmental goals, and it hasn’t sacrificed its profits on the way.

In this ripe time of fighting for policies, we need to keep in mind that no policy will be a true solution if it simply shifts the problems to another sector. These policies will simply come under harsh opposition. True solutions benefit everyone, and finding them may require working with people you’ve traditionally seen as the enemy. So change your thinking: the only “them” in these situations are the problems we face together.

“China’s problem has become the world’s problem”

China’s recent incredible economic growth and the approaching Beijing Olympics have prompted extensive media coverage on issues concerning the Chinese environment. Many sources may claim that it is China’s isolated pursuit of economic gain that has led them to environmental crisis. I believe that these statements create a false impression that the environmental issues in China are separate from the US when in fact, “China’s problem has become the world’s problem” (1).

 

A significant portion of China’s pollution is indirectly or directly caused by US companies. In many water pollution cases the, “Chinese manufacturers that dump waste into rivers or pump smoke into the sky make the cheap products that fill stores in the United States and Europe. Often, these manufacturers subcontract for foreign companies — or are owned by them. In fact, foreign investment continues to rise as multinational corporations build more factories in China” (1). Therefore the United States is a key contributor to pollution crisis in China and should also be held accountable.

 

By contributing to pollution in China, we are in turn contributing to our own. It has been proven that on “some days, nearly 25% of polluting matter above Los Angeles can be traced to Asia, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Scientists have confirmed that the pollution is carried by air currents and they fear that China could one day account for a third of all California’s air pollution” (2). This is a clear example of how the welfare of China is directly related to our own welfare. Combined China and the US are responsible for producing 40% of the world’s greehouse gas emissions. Together we must face address climate change and environmental injustice. 

 

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/world/asia/26china.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=China%20environment&st=cse&oref=slogin

2. http://www.asianews.it/index.php?art=6843&l=en

Does our future depend on this legislative moment?

It is widely agreed that no federal climate policy will have a good shot at passing through Congress until after the elections this coming fall 2008. This is why it is crucial that the Environmental Justice and Climate Justice (EJ/CJ) movements mobilize, unite on a single legislative goal, and lobby the heck out of our incumbent and incoming representatives. The most promising piece of climate legislation so far, the Lieberman-Warner bill, died in the Senate this time around. However, don’t be too disappointed, EJ/CJ folks. The Lieberman-Warner bill violates at least two of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change (EJCC) Initiative’s Principles for Just Climate Change Policies in the U.S.:

#2. Protect and Empower Vulnerable Individuals and Communities

#3. Ensure Just Transition for Workers and Communities

The environmental racism and environmental justice frameworks have been largely ignored in the media, academic, and policy perspectives so far; especially with regards to how the federal government has dealt with hurricane Katrina. The gulf coast is still, to this day in 2008, recovering from the devastating impacts of the worst hurricane season in recent history; hence, they are also still in need of EJ/CJ organizational support and a strong allyship base from neighboring states and fellow EJ/CJ activists.

“Without the vigilance of these environmental justice activists in the rebuilding effort, the clean-up and redevelopment of New Orleans will not include perspectives that prioritize environmental justice and community health concerns… In June [2005], the [EPA] announced that it was removing race and class from special consideration in its definition of environmental justice, …which mandated that all federal agencies generate agency-specific strategies to address the disproportionate pollution experienced by minority communities, and set a controversial and abbreviated public comment period, ending just 10 days before Katrina hit… Thus, the moment that the concept of environmental racism is being most attacked, is paradoxically the most crucial time to bring environmental justice back into the center of the analysis of Katrina in particular, and of how the health and environments of communities of color in the United States in general are fundamentally shaped by race and class considerations…” (http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Sze/)

So, EJ and CJ folks, let’s ask ourselves: Which kind of policy can we feasibly unite behind to incorporate justice into the discussions happening on Capitol Hill? Redefining Progress and the EJCC Initiative recommend the following, among other things: “Polluter Pays” Policy; Modified Cap And Auction Policy; Policy That Returns Revenues To Communities; and Wealth-Building Community Climate Justice Policy. So far, the EJCC has spotted one bill that looks promising:

“Congressman Edward Markey has announced …[the bill] Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act, or iCAP, [which] boasts better targets – 85% by 2050 – and essentially 100% auction of its credits – starting at 94% of total allowances in 2012 and reaching 100% in 2020. Not to mention, iCAP returns over half of auction proceeds to low- and middle-income households through rebates and tax credits, investing the remaining half in programs including clean energy tech, energy efficiency and green jobs training and assistance.” (https://climatejusticenow.wordpress.com/)

The future of our world could depend on this legislative moment—leading up to and following up after the elections in fall 2008. Let’s utilize the momentum surrounding the Lieberman-Warner discussions, continue to strategize our ideals, and form a strong coalition to encourage our representatives to act for a just climate policy now.