CONVERSATIONS: Concern for how marginalized communities will benefit from landmark climate package
The Biden administration is characterizing its new climate package as the largest federal investment ever in fighting climate change.
The package includes major incentives for cleaner energy. But some worry the same entities that contribute to warming temperature will see more benefits than communities of color, which are most vulnerable to impacts.
WMFE environmental reporter Amy Green talked with local activist Chev Lovett of Florida Rising.
GREEN: Numerous studies show that Black communities and other communities of color are bearing the brunt of climate change impacts like hotter temperatures and rising seas. And I wonder if you can talk about how does that look here in central Florida?
LOVETT: So here in central Florida, for example in the community that I grew up in, we are very close to gas stations. And we're very close to very busy roads. And we didn't have enough greenery, enough parks, enough things to clean the air, clean the toxics and those things in the air as well.
And so we also don't have the health care usually to help us along with that. So if we have health care issues we can't work. And so those are just a few things here in central Florida that we're seeing with that as well.
GREEN: So what is missing from the Biden administration's climate change package? What else do communities of color here in central Florida need? And what does it mean, not getting this right? What are the stakes? What are some of the impacts on health care outcomes, for example?
LOVETT: There are harmful investments in fossil fuels. There are harmful investments, and it extends the life of a dirty fossil fuel industry as well. So in that there's pollution that happens to frontline communities.
We know that folks who often work on the ground, and we're in frontline communities or folks of color, and we can't afford health care. And we can also not afford missing work because we are sick.
So it doesn't have a lot of nuances in providing any kind of health care needs. And this is a large package, right? There's a lot of money that's going into that. And although there's great intent, there's also an impact that doesn't necessarily address all of the needs.
GREEN: The issue prompted the Movement for Black Lives to launch a new climate change initiative that unites black environmental leaders across the country. What are some of the other main problems the effort is aimed at addressing?
LOVETT: So we actually have something called the Justice On Every Block Campaign. And what the Justice On Every Block Campaign does is, it means that no community should be left behind, and no community should be sacrificed to have their basic needs met. And that's what this actually does not address. It doesn't address the needs of every community.
Also, with the Movement For Black Lives, I think what they intend to do really, really well is ensure that the resources, particularly the money resources, that are supposed to be poured into these communities, are the communities actually seeing that?
GREEN: And I mean how frustrating is it, that we even have to have this conversation?
LOVETT: It's absolutely frustrating, right. And so coming from, again, a community of color, right? We we have a lot of faith, and we had a lot of faith in the current presidential administration.
So we have a lot of faith in the Biden administration to meet the needs of the people. We know that it's just not stopping, getting someone into the seat, getting someone into the White House. But it's also holding them accountable to our needs.
And so a part of the needs is also like, let's show up for what we've been trying to fight for for a while. I know our folks are still sick. Our folks are still not wanting again, as we said earlier to miss any of work because of the health care needs that they need.
And so we do know we can have a voice at the table, but we need more Black voices at the table in particular to talk about Black issues in the Black community.