Green for All Applauds Obama’s Climate Commitment and Calls for Measures to Address the Vulnerabilities of Low-Income Americans and Communities of Color


Contact: Alyssa Cocchi

WASHINGTON—Today, President Obama unveiled his plan for combatting climate change by lowering carbon pollution, making communities more resilient, and improving energy efficiency. While the President’s plan will have lasting benefits for all Americans, Green for All seeks to bring attention to the specific need for climate action that addresses the unique vulnerability of low-income Americans and communities of color.

Statement of Green for All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

President Obama’s plan includes real, effective solutions that will help fight climate change. These true gains are worth celebrating as an important step toward fulfilling our obligation to leave our children and grandkids a healthy planet.  His plan also creates an opportunity to protect Americans who are most vulnerable right now. While severe weather caused by climate-changing pollution threatens all of us, low-income communities and people of color are hit first and worst.

We saw it with Katrina. When a storm strikes, people with the fewest resources have a harder time escaping, surviving and recovering. In New York, six of the waterfront boroughs most susceptible to the increased storm surges that we saw with Superstorm Sandy are predominantly low-income communities of color. And in Los Angeles, African Americans are twice as likely to die in a heat wave, due in large part to neighborhoods dense in concrete with little shade or access to vehicles and air conditioning.

So, as President Obama launches his effort on climate change, one of his first priorities must be to stabilize communities on the front lines. That means building infrastructure that helps absorb the blow of increased storms and disasters. But just as important, we will need to make sure it’s built by American workers—workers who have been locked out of the old economy. That includes people of color, who are still struggling with staggering unemployment—13.5 percent, almost twice the national average.

The good news is that many of the tools we need to combat carbon pollution can also create jobs and opportunity for folks on the edge. Expanding clean energy will create new jobs—lots of them. A study showed that every dollar invested in clean energy creates three times as many jobs as a dollar invested in oil and coal. Clean energy jobs tend to pay well—13 percent higher than the median wage—while requiring less formal education.

President Obama is doing the right thing by standing up to polluters. For our children and grandchildren, we have a moral imperative to respond aggressively to the threat of climate change. We also have a moral imperative to create a better future for kids who are growing up in poverty—the kids who watch their parents struggle to find work, the kids who are forced to breathe polluted air, the kids who will be first to suffer when a storm hits.

America’s response to climate change is an unprecedented opportunity to shift the odds for these kids. We at Green for All look forward to working with President Obama to achieve this goal.


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