As the Pope’s encyclical on climate change wrapped up last week, mayors from across the United States are returning to their cities seeking ways to implement climate action plans. While these efforts are important, and provide a ground up path for climate action, many are wondering if enough is being done to include communities that are too often ignored.
Historically, the environmental movement has been criticized for its homogeneity—attracting mostly middle and upper class white participants. Alternatively, those most affected by the consequences of environmental degradation and injustice are poor and minority communities. Discussions about this disconnect offer up several explanations, but more important is identifying how to get under represented communities more involved in their climate future. Recent research has identified four actionable tactics.
4 key tactics for creating greater community involvement:
- Develop environmental literacy
- Tie environmental issues to faith
- Publicize opportunities in the green economy
- Recognize the benefits of climate solutions to local economies
What is clear is that community leaders must diligently work to involve their communities in climate solutions. Through bold leadership, the application of well-researched strategies, and the use of proven resources, leaders can transform under represented communities into climate success stories.
Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment has been praised for its potential to make the environmental crisis a central religious concern forpeople of all faiths. This should bring new, diverse voices to the environmental movement, which historically has attracted affluent, white participants.
Numerous studies since the 1980s have shown that environmental racism plays a key role in environmental decision-making. Toxic waste sites, landfills and polluting industries are located disproportionately in minority communities.
Because examples of environmental racism are so prevalent, people assume that minorities' experiences of the environment are defined by environmental problems.
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