How is Climate Change related to Systemic Racism?

When we talk about climate change, the conversation usually covers how environmental degradation affects everyone. And, while it is true that climate change does impact the entire globe, it is also important to recognize that the effects of climate change are not equally distributed across the world. 

The United States history of systemic racism and reliance on fossil fuels makes environmental racism especially prominent. 

Environmental Racism

Environmental racism is a concept that identifies how people of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental degradation. 

In the United States, a country founded on the exploitation of Indigenous Americans and Black people, environmental racism is especially prevalent.

According to a recent report by the Dig Deep and the U.S. Water Alliance, “race is still the strongest determinant” to access to safe potable water. And, multiple studies have shown that air quality is better in predominately white neighborhoods than in predominately Latinx and Black neighborhoods.

This is not accidental. Neighborhoods of color have been systemically stripped of resources and divested from for decades

Fighting for Environmental Justice

By learning the systemic injustices against neighborhoods of color, we can better understand the fight for environmental justice. Environmental justice is a social movement pushing for restorative actions in environmental legislation.

The environmental justice movement recognizes the role of racism and classism in the climate change crisis. To create a more equitable environment, we need to amplify the voices of climate activists in historically and presently polluted areas, redistribute environmental resources into highly polluted communities, and champion for environmentally conscious changes to our system.