Indigenous Environmental Network
Today, a broad coalition of 115 climate and progressive groups across the country join Demos, a national progressive think tank, in calling for comprehensive Executive Action to address the systemic inequalities of pollution and the climate crisis.
A copy of the platform and policy memorandum is available at: demos.org/frontlines-climate-justice.
“In the face of continued crises of police violence, a global pandemic, and economic collapse, one lesson is clear: Black and brown communities are consistently marginalized and subjected to chronic and deadly inequities, so long as they remain excluded from public investment and decision-making power. The looming climate crisis raises the same stakes. It is Black and brown communities who are already bearing the brunt of the costs of our climate crisis and these are the communities whose voices and needs are consistently ignored,” said K. Sabeel Rahman, President of Demos.
“Built in deep collaboration with the grassroots movement signatories, this Frontlines Climate Justice Executive Action Platform provides urgently needed, actionable policies that an administration must implement in order to ensure that we meet the challenge of climate change by dismantling environmental racism, and centering the needs and voices of the communities most affected,” Rahman added.
This new platform identifies the path to immediately addressing environmental inequalities and the climate crisis through regulatory and administrative actions an administration can take without Congress. The policy platform outlines actions that address environmental justice, just recovery from disasters, equity accounting in climate policy, and energy democracy. The platform elaborates a sweeping suite of climate justice policy recommendations, including:
- Reducing and remediating concentrated pollution with a No Hotspots Rule. By Executive Order, direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish rules and implement a No Hotspots Policy for reducing and avoiding local pollution and pollution disparities caused, worsened, or left unaddressed by climate and pollution control policies.
- Establishing a Climate Equity Accountability and Enhanced Stakeholder Review System. By Executive Order, establish and institutionalize a Climate Equity Accountability System, based in the Office of Management and Budget, to require equity assessments of proposed climate and energy rules and programmatic investments; and by the same E.O., require that proposed rules and programmatic investments are subject to enhanced review and modification by frontline stakeholders.
- Respecting Indigenous sovereignty and Tribal consultation. By Executive Order or other directive, institutionalize strong federal standards and procedural requirements of federal agencies respecting self-determination and consent of tribal nations. Significant federal actions affecting tribal lands, livelihoods, and cultures should be held to a stringent decision-making standard of negotiated tribal consent.
- Community control of the energy system. By Executive Order, establish and empower a Presidential Commission on Energy Democracy and Renewable Energy Futures. The commission will collaborate with frontline stakeholders to develop a national blueprint for public and community control of a clean, renewably-sourced, and more resilient energy system.
“This deadly pandemic has put a spotlight on the overwhelming inequities in our healthcare, economic and environmental protection systems — inequities that have plagued communities of color for far too long,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. “I’m pleased to see so many groups coming together to support the Frontlines Climate Justice Platform to lay out a path forward that a President could take through executive actions that help address decades of injustice while helping our nation respond to the Climate Crisis.”
“This is the year of truth, and the truth is the COVID-19 pandemic has made plain the deadly intersections of racism, pollution, and poverty, and poor leadership. The position of the President of the United States has tremendous power to enact real action that protects people equitably, ensuring the most vulnerable are prioritized, and that can slow ecological disaster that harms us all,” said Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and Founder of Hip Hop Caucus. “ We are beyond fighting for equality, we’re fighting for existence. The next President must lead with absolute urgency.”
“The President has the power to move us forward to a society where we are closer to achieving true environmental and climate justice. This platform provides a well-researched and legally sound roadmap for some of the Executive Actions that will get us there, and should be implemented as soon as possible,” said Sunrise Movement Co-founder and Executive Director Varshini Prakash.
“This moment in our collective history is revealing the unignorable deep-rooted inequality at the core of American society. We are witnessing it in the police violence faced by Black people and Black communities, and we are also witnessing it in the slow violence of pollution and climate crisis these same communities live with destroying their health and lives. We need a President who will make undoing systemic racism the core of their Presidency. This executive action platform shows how this can and must be done at the intersection of racial and climate justice,” said Maurice Mitchell, National Director of the Working Families Party.
“From regulation to rule making, the ability to prevent further environmental degradation, protect and enforce the environmental health of frontline communities that have long endured a legacy of discriminatory toxic exposure and extraction rests with the federal government,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE, Co-Chair of the Climate Justice Alliance, and Former Chair of US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “Today I stand with frontline leaders and allies in demanding that a national climate policy center frontline solutions, a Just Transition and commitment to invest in community control of the energy system.”
"People across the country are rising up to confront the interwoven crises of climate change, racial injustice, and COVID-19. They deserve an ally in the White House who is going to fight alongside them in advancing the transformational policies outlined in this platform. We must not tolerate anyone who will exploit a pandemic to further a racist, pro-polluter agenda, one that bails out oil CEOs and corporate polluters while Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities remain under attack. Our next president must reject an economy that profits off destruction in favor of one that puts the people and planet first," said Vijay Das, Greenpeace USA's Climate Leadership Project Lead.
"This platform speaks to the climate movement's commitment to justice and equity. We are holding fast to our demand for the next President to take immediate and transformative action. The compound crises of COVID-19, racial injustice, and climate change are being paid for in struggle throughout the lives and livelihoods of Black and Indigenous Peoples, and poor families on every frontline, many of whom are already surviving on mutual aid, and a unified demand that democracy delivers,” said Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, 350.org North America Director. “From a responsive civil structure and executive, to federal agencies that provide resources and empower the people, we demand the next President commits to end fossil fuels, hold polluters accountable, and stand up for climate justice and human rights."
"Congressional action is crucial to solve the climate crisis, but as this new Climate Justice Executive Action platform shows, the executive branch can do a lot on its own," said MoveOn Executive Director Rahna Epting. “MoveOn is proud to support these bold and necessary actions which will reduce climate pollution while creating jobs and investing in communities on the front lines of this crisis."
“We can’t address the climate emergency without transformational executive actions rooted in science and justice,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “The Frontlines Climate Justice Executive Action Platform maps out the bold executive actions needed to invest deeply in frontline communities and center justice at every step.”
Read the full list of signatories here: demos.org/frontlines-climate-justice.
About Indigenous Environmental Network
Established in 1990, The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. Indigenous Environmental Network’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
Learn more here: ienearth.org