Black History Month bonus: Political leaders


Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

By Berit Thorson

Last week, we highlighted four Black environmental artists who use their medium to speak on issues like climate change, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion in the outdoors. Although Black History Month is officially over, we want to celebrate the life and work of Black people year-round. In that spirit, we have one final round-up for you! This week, we are looking at Black political leaders who support climate solutions.

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Michael Regan, from epa.gov

One of the most prominent Black political appointees is Michael Regan, the current Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Regan was appointed to the position by President Biden and sworn into office in March of 2021. The 16th EPA Administrator, he is the first Black man and second person of color to hold the position. He is known for being “guided by a belief in forming consensus, fostering an open dialogue rooted in respect for science and the law, and an understanding that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand.” He plans to make environmental justice a priority as he guides the EPA, noting that “too many communities whose residents are predominantly of color, Indigenous, or low-income continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels and the resulting adverse health and environmental impacts.” Because the EPA sets regulations on environmental laws to protect human health and the environment, Regan’s focus on environmental justice brings an intersectional lens to recognize connected forms of injustice.

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Rep. Beatty, from beatty.house.gov

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Del. Norton, from Wikipedia

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Rep. Johnson, from Wikipedia

Within the legislative branch, there are many supporters of climate solutions who are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00) are all on that list. All three have cosponsored the Environmental Justice for All Act as well as the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability Act of 2021. Reps. Beatty and Johnson and Del. Norton are also cosponsors of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021, which is up to 94 cosponsors! 

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Sen. Booker, from Wikipedia

One of the more well-known Black political climate supporters is Cory Booker, a U.S. Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful from New Jersey. Inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sen. Booker originally introduced the Climate Stewardship Act in 2019, which would have provided support for “voluntary climate stewardship practices” by farmers as well as called for planting about 16 billion trees, in addition to proposing other agricultural climate solutions. Although it did not pass, Booker’s commitment to broad and immediate climate solutions is clear in his legislative actions. In April of 2021, Booker reintroduced the Climate Stewardship Act, and it was subsequently referred to the Committee on Agriculture, where it is still.

Black History Month bonus: Political leaders

Vice President Harris, from Wikipedia

Of course, the White House also says that climate is a priority. Vice President Kamala Harris is the highest-ranked Black person and woman in the executive branch. Her track record on climate solutions includes sponsoring or co-sponsoring legislation like the Green New Deal, the Climate Equity Act, and the Zero-Emissions Vehicles Act. Before her tenure in the Senate, while Attorney General of California, she “opposed expansions by Chevron and other fossil fuel giants.” Vice President Harris is arguably the most visible person to the public on this list, and as we at CCL know, one of the most important and useful tools we have is people with the power to create lasting change who will prioritize climate solutions.

Thank you for following along with our 2022 Black History Month blog series! If you missed any of the previous weeks, check them out here: 

We will continue to highlight important work by Black activists, leaders, and artists in the climate space throughout the year! Check out our podcast, Citizens’ Climate Radio, or subscribe to our blog to stay up to date.

 

Berit Thorson is the CCL Spring 2022 Communications Intern. As an outdoors enthusiast, she is passionate about protecting nature and people from the impacts of climate change, and is excited to be working with CCL toward these goals.

The post Black History Month bonus: Political leaders appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

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U.S. Oil Lobby Uses Ukraine Invasion to Argue Against Biden’s Climate Plans

U.S. oil and gas companies are using Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to push back against the Biden administration’s climate agenda. 

The American Petroleum Institute (API), a lobby group which represents ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell, tweeted out a series of policy suggestions hours before the invasion began Wednesday, The Guardian reported.  

“As crisis looms in Ukraine, U.S. energy leadership is more important than ever,” API tweeted.

The oil-industry group called for:

  1. Permits for fossil-fuel extraction on public lands.
  2. A five-year offshore leasing plan.
  3. Speeding up the permitting process for fossil-fuel infrastructure.
  4. Reducing legal and regulatory uncertainty. 

The fossil-fuel industry argument is that more U.S. oil and gas production will help reduce costs at home and support countries in Europe, which gets around a third of its gas from Russia, The Guardian explained. However, environmental groups take a different message away from the Ukraine crisis and the resulting shocks to the global energy market. (The global price for a crude oil barrel topped $100 for the first time since 2014 on Thursday). They argue that fossil fuels contribute to both an unstable climate and an unstable energy landscape. 

“It’s pretty rich for the oil and gas industry to talk about how reliable fossil fuels are when any big storm that happens, any time a war pops up, their reliability is thrown into question,” Environmental Voter Project founder and executive director Nathaniel Stinnett told The New York Times. “Wars aren’t fought over solar energy. You don’t see these huge price spikes in clean energy.” 

Republican lawmakers have repeated the industry calls for more U.S. oil and gas production, while 10 Democrats wrote a letter to President Joe Biden Thursday asking him to release oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve to lower costs in the short term, The Guardian reported. Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Dan Sullivan of Alaska went so far as to argue that the Keystone XL pipeline should be reopened, according to The Hill and The New York Times.  

However, the administration so far is rejecting the call to drill, baby, drill. 

“The Keystone Pipeline was not processing oil through the system. That does not solve any problems. That’s a misdiagnosis or maybe a misdiagnosis of what needs to happen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, as The Hill reported. “I would also note that on oil leases, what this actually justifies in President Biden’s view is the fact that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general… and we need to look at other ways of having energy in our country and others.”

European leaders have also emphasized clean energy as a solution to the EU’s reliance on Russian gas. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc was “doubling down on renewables,” The Guardian reported. 

Still, some experts warned that Russia’s aggression combined with other factors raising gas prices could make climate action more politically difficult. 

“Everybody is talking Ukraine, everybody’s talking NATO,” Center for Environmental Politics at the University of Washington founding director Aseem Prakash told The New York Times, adding that, in the furor, climate “could also get completely shoved off the agenda.”

However, International Energy Agency director Fatih Birol thought the crisis could be a more positive “turning point” for global energy, as The Guardian reported.

“There will be a transition to clean energy… it will be a difficult one, but I believe the governments will have to manage a transition if we want a planet that is safe and clean in the future,” Birol said.

The post U.S. Oil Lobby Uses Ukraine Invasion to Argue Against Biden’s Climate Plans appeared first on EcoWatch.

Urgent Action Needed on Climate Change Before Nature Is Unable to Adapt, New UN Report Warns

A new scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of 270 researchers from 67 countries called together by the United Nations, concludes that urgent action must be taken by countries to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions before the effects of climate change — which are already reshaping the planet in drastic and myriad ways — overcome the planet and humanity’s ability to adjust and acclimate.

The report is the most meticulous appraisal of the dangers of climate change to date, reported The New York Times. The countries of the world must do more to safeguard cities and vulnerable coastlines as the dangers of climate change increase, the study said. It examined the growing threats of climate change on the security of resources, infrastructure, health and ecosystem biodiversity, NBC News reported.

The IPCC report is “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, as The New York Times reported. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”

As the climate crisis continues to affect the planet and all its inhabitants, migration will become more commonplace. More than 13 million people in Africa and Asia were displaced by extreme weather in 2019, the report said, as reported by The New York Times.

“One of the most striking conclusions in our report is that we’re seeing adverse impacts that are much more widespread and much more negative than expected,” said ecologist at the University of Texas, Austin, Camille Parmesan, one of the researchers who put together the report, as The New York Times reported.

According to the report, water and food insecurity have become widespread, affecting millions across the globe, as droughts, heat waves and floods inundate the planet, reported NBC News.

“Overall, the picture is stark for food systems,” said professor of global development at Cornell University and one of the authors of the report Rachel Bezner Kerr, as NBC News reported. “No one is left unaffected by climate change.”

The report said “transformational” changes will need to be made not only in the way we get our energy, but in the methods used in the building of new homes, in the way we grow food and in the way we protect the environment, reported The New York Times.

The report cautioned that if the greenhouse gases from fossil fuel emissions aren’t drastically reduced, soon much of the world will not be able to adapt.

“With climate change, some parts of the planet will become uninhabitable,” said marine biologist and co-chair of Working Group II for the IPCC Hans-Otto Pörtner, as USA Today reported.

If the planet sees warming higher than 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels, many countries may not be able to manage the costs of protecting coastal inhabitants from rising sea levels.

According to Kerr, in some places farming will become more challenging as increasing temperatures make it progressively more strenuous for farm animals and people who work outside, as reported by The New York Times.

As with many aspects of the climate emergency, poorer nations will suffer the most. Fifteen times more people were killed due to storms, floods and droughts in poor nations between 2010 and 2020 than in rich ones, according to the report.

“Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction — now,” said Guterres, as The New York Times reported. “This abdication of leadership is criminal.”

Although many world leaders have pledged to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the current trajectory is from two to three degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

“Beyond 1.5, we’re not going to manage on a lot of fronts,” said director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center and one of the authors of the report Maarten van Aalst, reported The New York Times. “If we don’t implement changes now in terms of how we deal with physical infrastructure, but also how we organize our societies, it’s going to be bad.”

One of the main points of the report is that natural adaptation to the pace of warming that the world is currently experiencing is unrealistic.

“There has been the assumption that, ‘Well, if we cannot control climate change, we’ll just let it go and adapt to it,’” Pörtner said, as The New York Times reported. But considering the anticipated threats of our warming planet, “this is certainly a very illusionary approach.”

The post Urgent Action Needed on Climate Change Before Nature Is Unable to Adapt, New UN Report Warns appeared first on EcoWatch.

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