Climate Justice

CLIMATE JUSTICE

“Climate change is happening now and to all of us. No country or community is immune,”  said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit.”

Of course, climate change affects everyone, but it disproportionately affects minority and low-income communities in the United States. These communities are often least able to prepare for, or recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, and other impacts, according to EPA administrator Michael S. Regan. Race is —even more than class -- the number one indicator for the location of toxic facilities in this country hit by climate change.

You might want to watch an extremely effective video (released in 2017 by ProPublica) on this subject, detailing our history of environmental justice.

This section, CLIMATE JUSTICE, explores “the climate crisis through a human rights lens”, emphasizing the need for climate justice to be recognized as an integral part of the fight against climate change. In order to create long lasting change to support the environment for future generations, we need to accept environmental injustice in our country as a significant part of the problem. 

“Insist on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart,” said Mary Robinson who is no stranger in the world of politics and human rights.

CURRENT NEWS

EPA offers $2B to clean up pollution, develop clean energy in poor and minority communities

By Matthew Daly 11/22/23
The Biden administration is making $2 billion available to community groups, states and tribes to clean up pollution and develop clean energy in disadvantaged communities in what officials called the largest-ever investment in environmental justice.
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Improving US air quality, equitably

By Mark Dwortzan 09/27/23
Decarbonization of national economies will be key to achieving global net-zero emissions by 2050, a major stepping stone to the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (and ideally…
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The Inequality Of Heat

By Annie Gowen and Others 09/22/23
Their city of Kolkata was in the midst of a blistering heat wave, with temperatures rising to 105 degrees, making life in the narrow lanes and in their tiny one-room homes nearly unbearable. It was…
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Green groups release equity guide for $20B climate fund

By Avery Ellfeldt 09/11/23
A new guide from advocacy groups aims to ensure that the country's underserved communities benefit from $20 billion in upcoming federal green investment grants.
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First on CNN: Some of America’s poorest communities are landing clean energy projects worth billions

By Matt Egan 08/16/23
Rural Mingo County, West Virginia, is one of America’s poorest counties. Nearly one-third of its residents live below the poverty line, only a third of its population is employed and countless lives have been upended…
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Louisiana juveniles are suffering dangerous heat and isolation in an old death row facility built for adults, a lawsuit states. Experts say the harm could be irreversible

By Amy Simonson and Lauren Mascarenhas 07/20/23
Children in the custody of Louisiana’s Office of Juvenile Justice being held in a former death row building at an adult prison are suffering dangerous heat conditions and routine isolation in their cells that experts…
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Who gets arrested for climate crimes?

By Emily Atkin and Arielle Samuelson 07/18/23
One of the new talks we were most looking forward to was from Vietnamese climate activist Hoàng Thi Minh Hồng. It was supposed to be about the need for climate activism in politically hostile environments,…
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How Biden’s environmental justice dilemma is playing out in Port Arthur

By James Osborne 07/09/23
John Beard spent almost 40 years working in the refineries and petrochemical plants that surround his home in Port Arthur. But after an accident at the Valero refinery in Port Arthur in 2007 released large…
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Report card: Biden’s accomplishments on climate justice

By Cameron Oglesby 06/02/23
With President Joe Biden’s election came a slew of promises related to climate justice: During his campaign, Biden made commitments to reduce oil and gas drilling, transition the country toward renewable energy and electric vehicles,…
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Climate pledge mobilizes $120M to focus on environmental justice

By Andrew Freedman 04/26/23
The Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP) has mobilized $120 million in funding from major climate donors, the group tells Axios.
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Biden moves to create office of environmental justice

04/21/23
President Biden on Friday signed an executive order that would create the White House Office of Environmental Justice. The White House said it wants to ensure that poverty, race, and ethnic status do not lead…
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EPA awards $177 million to environmental justice groups

By Drew Costley 04/13/23
The US Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it’s investing $177 million to create 17 technical assistance centers around the country to help environmental justice organizations successfully apply for federal funds. Better training on how…
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KEY RESOURCES

Community Disaster Resilience Zones

09/08/23
Community Disaster Resilience Zones will build disaster resilience across the nation by driving federal, public and private resources to the most at-risk and in-need jurisdictions.

FEMA gives special status to 500 climate-vulnerable neighborhoods

09/07/23
Nearly 500 U.S. neighborhoods vulnerable to climate change have been selected to receive special help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and potentially other federal agencies, FEMA said Wednesday.

International Conference On Climate Justice

06/27/23
The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Climate Justice and the international research group “Climate Change, Territories, Diversities” have the pleasure to invite you to our fifth international conference (28-29th June), entirely dedicated to the…

A Brief History of Environmental Justice

09/21/22
Landfills, chemical waste facilities and power plants are more often built in poor and minority communities, which don't have the power or money to advocate for themselves. For decades, these communities have called for environmental…

What is ‘climate justice’?

09/21/22
Climate change, an inherently social issue, can upset anyone’s daily life in countless ways. But not all climate impacts are created equal, or distributed equally. From extreme weather to rising sea levels, the effects of…

EPA Report Shows Disproportionate Impacts of Climate Change on Socially Vulnerable Populations in the United States

09/21/22
A new EPA analysis released today shows that the most severe harms from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality,…

Environmental Justice

09/21/22
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Air pollution exposure disparities across US population and income groups

01/12/22
Air pollution contributes to the global burden of disease, with ambient exposure to fine particulate matter of diameters smaller than 2.5μm (PM 2.5 ) being identified as the fifth-ranking risk factor for mortality globally 1…

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Releases Agency Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans from Across Federal Government

10/07/21
The Biden-Harris Administration released plans developed by more than 20 federal agencies that outline the steps each agency will take to ensure their facilities and operations adapt to and are increasingly resilient to climate change…

Environmental & Climate Justice

06/11/20
Environmental injustice, including the proliferation of climate change, has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low income communities in the United States and around the world. The NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program…

WE ACT for Environmental Justice

02/12/20
WE ACT’s mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.

Climate Justice Alliance

01/17/20
The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) formed in 2013 to create a new center of gravity in the climate movement by uniting frontline communities and organizations into a formidable force. Our translocal organizing strategy and mobilizing…

Earthjustice

09/06/19
Earth Justice fights for a vibrant, livable future by: securing national and global rules to cut carbon through work in the courts, Congress and via international negotiations to secure real, enforceable cuts in climate pollution;…

MORE NEWS

Simple solutions could reduce heat inequities in Phoenix

By YCC Team   03/15/23  
“By June, just about every day is going to be over 100 degrees,” says Agustin Gastelum of Rail CDC, a community development organization in Mesa, just east of Phoenix.
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Documents show how a pipeline company paid Minnesota millions to police protests

By Alleen Brown and John McCracken   02/09/23  
The morning of June 7, 2021, Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Nelson of Beltrami County, Minnesota, bought water and refreshments, packed his gear, and prepared for what would be, in his own words, “a long day.” For…
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Oil refineries release lots of water pollution near communities of color, data show

By Rebecca Hersher   01/26/23  
Oil refineries release billions of pounds of pollution annually into waterways, and that pollution disproportionately affects people of color, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency regulatory data.
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Biden-Harris Administration Announces Availability of $100 Million through Inflation Reduction Act for Environmental Justice Grants

01/10/23  
Historic grant funding for environmental justice will support projects in communities overburdened by pollution and historic underinvestment
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How to pay for climate justice when polluters have all the money

By Bill McKibben   11/19/22  
The climate summit just concluding in Egypt ran hard into one of the world’s greatest structural problems: most of the money is in the Global North, but most of the need is in the Global…
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Interior: Oil ban around Chaco Canyon would block 47 wells

By Heather Richards   11/17/22  
The Interior Department is considering a 20-year moratorium on new oil development around Chaco Canyon National Historical Park in New Mexico, an area important to many Indigenous communities.
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Sustainability at the Smithsonian Institution: Responding to Climate Change

By Ben Marcus   11/09/22  
Climate change is the existential threat of our time. As global temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common, it has become clear that human-induced climate change is already impacting our environment and our…
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EPA touts largest-ever investment in monitoring air pollution

By Rachel Frazin   11/03/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said that it would be able to fund 132 projects for monitoring air pollution in 37 states after recent legislation passed Congress.
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Enormous emissions gap between top 1% and poorest, study highlights

By Fiona Harvey   11/01/22  
The top 1% of earners in the UK are responsible for the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions in a single year as the bottom 10% over more than two decades, new data has shown.
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Major flood would hit Los Angeles Black communities disproportionately hard, study finds

By Louis Sahagun and Others   10/31/22  
Flooding from a storm event so severe that it likely occurs once every 100 years would cause far greater damage to life and property in the Los Angeles Basin than federal emergency officials have forecast,…
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This oil refinery poses a major environmental justice test for Biden

By Maxine Joselow and Others   10/28/22  
Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! Our colleague Brady Dennis will moderate two conversations today at 11 a.m. ET with Jigar Shah, director of the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office, and Liane Randolph,…
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EV supply chains have a human rights problem. Can tech fix it?

By Evan Halper   10/20/22  
The difficulty electric carmakers face building supply chains free of human rights and environmental violations came into focus earlier this year, when U.S. investigators completed their probe of a massive mining tragedy in Brazil.
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Come along as we connect the dots between climate, migration and the far-right

By Ari Shapiro   10/03/22  
As a climate change expert at the World Bank, Arame Tall is deeply familiar with the facts and figures of global warming. She understands how rising seas and changing weather cycles are affecting her home…
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Wealthiest 10% responsible for nearly 50% of greenhouse gas emissions

By Olivia Rosane   09/30/22  
A new study has highlighted the inequality underriding the climate crisis. The paper, published in Nature Sustainability Thursday, looked at the difference in per-capita emissions across the global economic spectrum between 1990 and 2019.
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E.P.A. Will Make Racial Equality a Bigger Factor in Environmental Rules

By Coral Devenport   09/24/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency will establish a new national office of environmental justice, the Biden administration’s latest effort to rectify the disproportionate harm caused by pollution and climate change in communities of color and in…
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EPA unveils new office to place environmental justice at agency’s core

By Brady Dennis   09/24/22  
Forty years ago, Dollie Burwell was a young mother in this rural farming region, determined to fight North Carolina’s decision to dump thousands of truckloads of contaminated soil nearby.
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Storm Impacts Continue to Show Inequitable Harms of Climate Change

By Nexus Media   09/22/22  
Multiple new reports continue to reveal how historically excluded groups were hurt by systemic inequities exacerbated by Hurricane Ida. Entergy, the utility that supplies electricity to much of southeastern Louisiana, raked in a record $1.4…
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The U.S. safety net was built for cold winters. Hot summers threaten it.

By Dino Grandoni and Others   09/17/22  
The moment NeedLink Nashville opened its doors just after Labor Day weekend, Melissa Besong entered the nonprofit’s office holding her overdue electric bill. Four months after losing her job as a home health aide, she…
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Jackson’s Water Crisis Is a Climate Justice Wake-Up Call

By Alajandro De La Garza   09/15/22  
n Jackson, Miss., residents were already boiling their water for a month before their taps ran dry at the end of August. That’s when floodwaters from heavy rain overwhelmed the city’s fragile water treatment system,…
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At 75, the Father of Environmental Justice Meets the Moment

By Cara Buckley   09/12/22  
He’s known as the father of environmental justice, but more than half a century ago he was just Bob Bullard from Elba, a flyspeck town deep in Alabama that didn’t pave roads, install sewers or…
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Disconnected and ‘dehumanized’: How thousands across Phoenix survive without running water

By Zayna Syed   09/11/22  
Tim Wiedman caught COVID-19 last December. A few days later, he developed bronchitis. A double whammy, he called it. The illnesses sapped his energy so much that, for six weeks, he could barely get off…
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Mississippi’s Water Crisis Is a ‘Textbook Case’ of Environmental Racism

By Susmita Baral   09/09/22  
A water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, left the city's 160,000 residents without safe drinking water. The catastrophe spotlights how climate change is actively threatening water supplies and, at its core, is a case of environmental…
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Racism Robbed This Historically Black California Town of Its Water. Now, They’re Developing Water of Their Own

By Teresa Cotsirilos   09/09/22  
Valeria Contreras’ phone started ringing on a bustling Saturday last February, when she was driving past almond and pistachio orchards on an errand run. Some callers sounded panicked. Others were just upset. "Where’s the water?"…
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Was the Climate Law a Win for Environmental Justice? It’s Complicated

By Brentin Mock   08/30/22  
Environmental justice (EJ) advocates — defenders of communities that are most disproportionately impacted by climate change and pollution — are divided on the big climate bill that recently became law. But most can agree on…
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Surrounded by fossil fuels, they fear climate bill leaves them behind

By Sarah Kaplan   08/27/22  
On any given day at the Prince Hall apartment complex, the breeze might carry soot and stink of burning tar. Black smoke might billow overhead as excess gas is burned at one of the refineries…
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Harvey Hit 5 Years Ago. Its Floodwaters Did Not Strike Equitably.

By Elana Shao   08/25/22  
Up to 50 percent of the properties that were flooded in Harris County, Texas, during Hurricane Harvey might have escaped that fate in a world without climate change, scientists reported on Thursday.
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Wildfire smoke is choking Indigenous communities

By Diana Kruzman   08/24/22  
On July 29, 2021, Li Boyd woke up to the smell of smoke. It was her birthday — she was turning 38 — and she had rented a boat to take her parents and aunts…
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What’s In A Name?

By Dan Calverley and Others   08/23/22  
It’s now thirty years since the United Nation’s first major Earth Summit (Rio 1992) recognised the urgent challenges posed by anthropogenic climate change. Yet, in responding to these challenges we, as a global society, have…
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The TVA is dumping a mountain of coal ash in Black south Memphis

By Darryl Fears   08/19/22  
MEMPHIS — It’s rare for a Black community to notch a win against a large industrial polluter, but that’s what happened on this city’s south side. Residents stood up to a proposal by two oil…
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FACT SHEET: How the Inflation Reduction Act Helps Latino Communities

08/16/22  
By signing the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden is delivering on his promise to build an economy that works for working families, including Latino communities. The Inflation Reduction Act lowers prescription drug costs, health care…
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Tribes and water protectors ward off new Black Hills gold rush

By Talli Nauman   08/11/22  
The moment the U.S. Forest Service posted its July notice of a draft decision to permit gold prospecting at Jenny Gulch here in the Black Hills, tribes, water protectors and treaty rights defenders turned out…
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Inflation Reduction Act Commits Just $47 Billion to Environmental Justice, Activists Say

By Kristoffer Tigue   08/09/22  
Senate Democrats could be “overcounting” the funding for environmental justice provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and misrepresenting the bill’s benefits for low-income families, communities of color and other historically disadvantaged Americans, according to a…
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The unequal impact of climate change

07/14/22  
Cities everywhere are preparing for extreme weather, but there's one concern they all share: climate change will impact low-income communities the hardest. This video shows how heat waves affect low-income Atlanta residents.
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Funds for climate justice flow to groups around the U.S.

By Drew Costley   06/29/22  
Fourteen environmental justice organizations from around the United States have begun to receive money under the Justice40 initiative, a business accelerator announced Wednesday. The Justice40 Accelerator said the groups will receive some $3 million for…
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At least 50 people found dead in abandoned 18-wheeler in San Antonio

By Jaden Edison and Others   06/27/22  
A tractor-trailer found near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio contained the bodies of 50 dead people, along with 16 others who have been taken to hospitals, according to local officials in San Antonio…
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One family, three generations of cancer, and the largest concentration of oil refineries in California

By Adam Mahoney   06/22/22  
When I visited Christina Gonzalez and her family in April, she sat slumped in her family’s worn black faux-leather couch, trying to recall which explosion had shaken her neighborhood the most. The seven decades they’ve…
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Racism drives environmental inequality — but most Americans don’t realize

By Brittney J. Miller   06/14/22  
But Bugden found that respondents to the survey were more than twice as likely to identify poverty as the main cause of environmental inequalities, instead of blaming structural racism. This is despite scientific evidence clearly…
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What Environmental Justice Looks Like (And Why It Matters) | Opinion

By Raul Grijalva & Others   06/09/22  
The Biden administration's recent announcement of a Justice Department effort to hold industrial polluters accountable for damage done to communities of color, Indigenous and low-income communities is an important step forward. For too long, these…
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Mapping tools help Ohio cities chart course for environmental justice

By Kathiann M. Kowalski   05/25/22  
Government and community groups in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati have recently used one particularly robust tool called the Greenlink Equity Map, or GEM, platform. Its maps let users see the intersections among roughly three dozen…
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Block-by-block data shows pollution’s stark toll on people of color

By Darryl Fears   05/25/22  
Finding the most polluted places in the San Francisco Bay area is simple, a new air quality analysis shows: Locate places where mostly Black, Latino, Asian and low-income residents live, and pay them a visit.
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Justice Dept. Tries to Shift Environmental Justice Efforts From Symbolic to Substantive

By Glenn Thrush and Lisa Friedman   05/12/22  
The Biden administration’s choice of Lowndes as the site of its first big environmental justice inquiry was based on the magnitude of the county’s problems. But it also sent a message. The county was a…
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Cancer-causing gas emission spikes continue at refineries

By Sean Reilly   05/12/22  
On its website, Marathon Petroleum Corp. touts a commitment to the environment that transcends run-of-the-mill regulatory compliance.
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Black communities are last in line for disaster planning in Texas

By Tracy Jan   05/12/22  
During heavy storms, water overflows the dirt drainage ditch fronting his yard and the bayou at the end of his block — flooding the street, creeping up his front steps, pooling beneath the house, and…
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Environmental Racism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

05/02/22  
John Oliver discusses environmental racism, how both government and industry are failing people of color, and pandas.
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Climate change and the third world, in New Mexico

By Marjorie Childress   04/30/22  
In reporting two recent stories about abandoned uranium mines north of Church Rock, N.M., I heard residents say several times that they want federal officials to take action, not just more talk about cleaning up…
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‘Existential Threat’: Indigenous Leaders Urge Citigroup to Stop Backing Amazon Oil

By Rachel Sherrington   04/28/22  
Indigenous leaders have called on Citigroup to stop financing oil and gas projects in the Amazon, saying the bank’s activities contradict its climate pledges by putting the threatened ecosystem at greater risk.
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Study Links the Location of Oil and Gas Wells with Redlined Neighborhoods

By Terry E. Cohen   04/25/22  
In the U.S., April commemorates Fair Housing Month, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the now-global Earth Day. This year, those events find a fitting relationship in a sobering new study published…
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HBCU students, faculty press urgent need for climate action

By Drew Costley   04/16/22  
Both joy and frustration are in the air in New Orleans at the HBCU Climate Change Conference this week as environmental and climate advocates and researchers from around the United States press for urgent climate…
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The Promise of the Environmental Justice For All Act

By Yukyan Lam and Sara Imperiale   04/08/22  
The Environmental Justice for All Act (EJ for All Act) is an essential federal legislative effort to begin remedying the long history of environmental racism and injustice in the United States, including the cumulative and…
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12 books on racial, gender, and environmental/climate justice

By Michael Svoboda   04/06/22  
Overshadowed though it is by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released on February 28th, still made news – and not just for its updated, and grimmer,…
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