This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the NAACP wants man-made global warming to be seen as a civil rights issue, arguing King’s vision of a society free of racial injustice can’t be achieved without addressing warming.
“We see climate change as a civil rights issue,” Jacqueline Patterson, head of the NAACP’s environmental and climate justice program, said in an online radio spot for the Yale Center for Environmental Connection.
Environmental activists have been increasingly framing global warming as a matter of “environmental justice,” since “minority and low-income populations are disproportionately affected by global warming,” Patterson told Yale’s online radio Climate Connections.
Traditionally, such concerns focused on traditional pollutants from factories or vehicles, but the NAACP is expanding it to carbon dioxide, which scientists blame for warming the Earth in recent decades.
The environmental movement has fretted in recent years that it’s not diverse enough, and groups, like 350.org, have tried to draw parallels between global warming and alleged police brutality that sparked riots in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.
Environmentalists say poor, minority communities are the least able to adapt to rising global average temperature and more frequent and intense extreme weather — despite there being little to no evidence for the extreme weather bit.
The Obama administration used “environmental justice” concerns to promote its Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
“Carbon pollution standards are an issue of justice,” former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told activists in a teleconference call in 2014. “If we want to protect communities of color, we need to protect them from climate change.”
The Trump administration has proposed repealing the Clean Power Plan, largely on the grounds it would cost billions of dollars for little benefit to the global climate.
However, critics say promoting climate policies championed by Democrats will hurt minority communities, not help them. Regulating carbon dioxide could raise energy prices, which disproportionately affects poor families.
A 2014 Pacific Research Institute report found the Clean Power Plan could result in an extra $408 a year in energy costs for African American families in Ohio.
“Households in lower-income African-American neighborhoods would be hardest hit with the cost of electricity equaling 26 percent of household income, or even higher,” according to the study.
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