Activists are coming together throughout the United States to demand urgent action from world leaders on the environment as well as workers’ rights, social justice, and other issues ahead of next month's United Nations COP21 talks in Paris.
'We must divest from fossil fuels, transform our economies and our politics, and stand together on the streets to fight for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable future,' proclaimed Anthony Torres, a campus organizer with Fossil Free AU and a COP21 youth delegate.
Lisa Brown, executive vice president of the Maryland-D.C. healthcare workers chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), added, "Climate change public health impacts fall disproportionately on Maryland's communities of color and poorest communities—where you live shouldn't determine if you live.” Brown continued, "Dirty air adds stress to heart and lungs and can lead to asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and health complications. "We call on our leaders in the global trade and international climate negotiations to solve this public health crisis with cleaner air while creating good paying clean energy jobs."
Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income people, workers, and communities of color here in Ohio and around the world. It is critical that we protect these populations from the impact of environmental degradation while respecting the rights of Indigenous people and their communities," said Jonathan Mettle-Nunoo, an SEIU member.
"This is critical moment in history where we can decide how we respond to the global problem of climate change," as Rich Stolz, executive director of immigration rights group OneAmerica,said. "On Wednesday, a new movement comprised of immigrants, people of color, workers and environmentalists will join together to send a message that will be heard from Seattle to Paris," Stolz said. "Climate change affects all our communities and we demand that the communities on the front lines, who bear the brunt of the ill effects of climate change and the pollution that causes it, have a voice when deciding how to fight it."
Within the United States, low-income people and communities of color are more likely to be exposed to immediately hazardous air pollution. A University of Minnesota study published last year found that people of color in the United States suffer nearly 40 percent more exposure to toxic air pollution than their white counterparts. "Industrial pollution from oil plants and fracking, these are poisoning families and communities now," said Molly Rauch of the group Moms Clean Air Force.
Climate crisis is deepening with each passing day. The capitalist economy is the main culprit behind the crisis and its dominance makes it harder to counter. The inconvenient truth is not that climate change is happening, but that what we are doing is too little and too late. Climate action plans by the capitalist class are neither ambitious nor equitable. Worse, it is but business-as-usual. If implemented emissions reduction will be marginal whether the reduction is achieved due to increased efficiency or a shift in fossil fuel use.
The US economy is not moving towards low-carbon growth. On a 1990 baseline the US, second largest emitter annually, will reduce emissions by a mere 13-15 per cent by 2025. Compared to 1990 levels, GHG emissions are up 6 per cent. In 1990-2013, carbon dioxide emissions are up 7.4 per cent. Carbon-dioxide emissions comprise 82 per cent of all US GHG emissions. The US used 2005 as base year as it allowed emissions to grow, whereas as per Kyoto Protocol it should have cut. The US remains fossil addicted. It now produces more gas than Russia and more oil than Saudi Arabia. Its coal use has stagnated; but still per capita coal use is 5 times higher than India. The US economy consumes more fossil fuels than in 1990 while its use of renewables is marginal.” The economy is to continue its fossil addiction as the addiction is profitable to it.
The US Clean Power Plan is nothing more than business as usual. Switch to natural gas from coal happening because it is cheaper to produce and consume. The economy will, in fact, consume more energy and not less by 2030. Recent scientific evidence suggests that methane emissions could be much higher in gas. Switch to natural gas will delay the transition to renewable. So, in 2030, US will remain fossil fuel addicted
As socialists we seek to reduce carbon emissions, not only because it is in the interest of the world, but also because it is in our interest to do what we can to re-invent growth without pollution.