Climate Justice Now: Community Forum Brings New Vision to Climate Discussion

Rep. Keith Ellison & Environmental Leaders Connect Climate Action to Economic Prosperity for Minnesota’s Communities of Color

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— Today, environmental champions brought a new perspective to the climate conversation during Green For All (GFA) and Sierra Club Environmental Justice campaign’s Climate Justice Now: Community Forum.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), GFA’s Executive Director Nikki Silvestri, NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program Director Jacqui Patterson, Movement Center for Deep Democracy Founder Sam Grant, and Former Indigenous Environmental Network Organizer Marty Cobenais highlighted how combatting climate change is a pathway to achieving healthy and safe communities AND economic prosperity for Minnesota’s communities of color.

The forum discussed how communities of color are impacted by climate change. Latinos and African Americans disproportionately live near high-polluting power plants like coal plants – one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution in America. African-American kids have a much higher rate of asthma: 1 in 6, compared with 1 in 10 nationwide. Indigenous communities live close to the land and feel the cost of climate change early. In Minnesota, the state experienced severe heat waves like one in July 2011 that created a heat index of nearly 119°F, but communities of color were more vulnerable to heat-related deaths.

“Minnesotans are already feeling the impact of climate change. A study called the National Climate Assessment confirmed it last week,” Silvestri said. “But, it’s especially hard on communities of color because climate change hits them first and worst. That’s why Green For All is working with these communities on strategies that not only prepare them for the climate disaster ahead, but incorporate economic security so they can thrive.”

“It's time to get real about tackling climate change. We can all take action for climate justice,” Karen Monahan, Sierra Club Environmental Justice Organizing Rep., said. “This event highlights opportunities within the community for people to get involved. Nationally, we can support the Environmental Protection Agency in its efforts to cut emissions from future and existing power plants and invest in clean energy jobs that can help our disadvantaged communities.”

The forum also featured individuals acting on climate. Louis Alemayehu, a spoken word artist, and the Minneapolis High School for Recording Arts Green Team performed.

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