Environmental and climate justice is a civil rights issue. We all depend on the physical environment and its bounty.
Toxic facilities, like coal-fired power plants and incinerators, emit mercury, arsenic, lead, and other contaminants into the water, food, and lungs of communities. Many of these same facilities also emit carbon dioxide and methane — the No. 1 and No. 2 drivers of climate change. But not all people are equally impacted. Race — even more than class — is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in this country hit by climate change.
The Jackson crisis is part of "the conversations about how Black communities are deprioritized when it comes to ensuring that there's infrastructure planning, ensuring there is resiliency built within the communities," said Abre' Conner, director of environmental and climate justice at the NAACP.
The water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, has gotten so bad, the city temporarily ran out of bottled water to give to residents
Running water could not be guaranteed by city officials, since the water pressure had dropped throughout the entire water system. The failure of the main water treatment plant in Jackson, Mississippi, means 180,000 people in the capital city and its surrounding areas will be without reliable drinking water for the foreseeable future.
Residents Without Safe Drinking Water in Jackson, Mississippi After Flooding, Treatment Plant Failure
President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson addressed Governor Reeves on Twitter. "We demand on behalf of the Jackson communities that you request federal aid from @FEMA and other agencies to ensure people have access to a basic human right: WATER," read Johnson's tweet.
Protecting Black Communities
Environmental injustice is about people in Detroit, Ohio, Chicago, Memphis, Kansas City, and elsewhere who have died and others who are chronically ill because of exposure to toxins.
Climate change is the new normal of more severe storms, like hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, which devastated communities from Boston to Biloxi. Our sisters and brothers in the Bahamas, and Inuit communities in Kivalina, Alaska, and communities in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and beyond, will risk property losses to rising sea levels in the next few years.
Climate change and environmental injustice: we work to address the many practices that are harming communities nationwide and worldwide. We fight for the policies needed to rectify these impacts and advance a society that fosters sustainable, cooperative, regenerative communities that uphold all rights for all people in harmony with the earth.
Reduce harmful emissions, particularly greenhouse gases
We combine action on shutting down coal plants and other toxic facilities, as well as the building of new toxic facilities, at the local level with advocacy to strengthen development, monitoring, and enforcement of regulations at federal, state, and local levels. This also includes a focus on corporate responsibility and accountability.
Advance energy efficiency and clean energy
We work at the state level on campaigns to pass renewable energy and energy efficiency standards while simultaneously working to provide safer, more sustainable mechanisms for managing energy needs for our communities and beyond. We also support small businesses, unions, and others to develop demonstration projects to ensure that communities of color are accessing revenue generation opportunities in the new energy economy.
Strengthen community resilience and livability
We work to ensure that communities are equipped to engage in sustainability and climate action planning that integrates policies and practices on advancing food justice, advocating for transportation equity, upholding civil and human rights in emergency management, and facilitating participatory democracy.