Everybody’s Movement - Environmental Justice and Climate Change

Everybody’s Movement: Environmental Justice and Climate Change describes how mitigating and adapting to climate change must be everybody’s movement, in order to be successful. This report aims to provide answers to the question: “What will it take to create a climate change movement that engages everyone?” In doing so, the Environmental Support Center intends to contribute to creating a more participatory, inclusive climate change movement in the U.S. with the full engagement of poor communities and communities of color. 

Think through methods to better engage a diverse audience on climate change issues.

The report describes that climate change is not everybody’s movement in the United States. “While many people of color and low-income communities regard climate change and the environment as priorities, the climate change movement still remains highly homogenous by race and class and significantly by gender in its leadership.” This status quo leaves out a significant untapped constituency who are likely to support strong climate policies since they often have the most to gain. 

In this report, environmental justice leaders across the United States share their perspectives on the unique ways in which their movement can contribute to climate organizing, policy, and solutions. They also speak about how their movement can be strengthened by better integrating climate issues into the content of environmental justice.

The first chapter discusses different approaches to framing and branding the issue of climate change. The environmental justice frame on climate change focuses on the way climate change affects communities, is embedded in social justice, impacts public health, and is intertwined with transportation and industrial facilities. Connections are made between the abuse of the environment and the oppression of people with the least power, including the poor, immigrants, women, and people of color.

The second chapter discusses barriers to authentic partnerships between the environmental justice movement and climate change movements. One of these challenges is a failure to properly address race and racial bias. Davis argues that "Discrimination and bias can creep into interactions despite the espoused progressive values of organizations, and individuals within them, who believe they are part of a larger political constituency that supports social justice or at least doesn’t thwart it." Additionally, environmental justice activists segmented into the domain of addressing diversity and not actually involved in the other climate work. This chapter also argues that the climate movement needs to move beyond tokenism in addressing people of color, and find ways for true inclusion. 

Strategies for collaboration between environmental justice activists and the environmentalists who lead the climate change movement are described in the third chapter. Environmental justice activists and funders were interviewed for the project, and overall identified six areas for building the capacity and leadership of the environmental justice movement on climate. These strategies for “building a movement for everyone” include:

1: Increase community groups’ capacity and access to scientific data, communications expertise, and economic analysis

2: Deepen climate policy expertise and implement political strategies based on environmental justice values

3: Expand creation and distribution of climate justice materials

4: Support networking and information sharing through adoption of new technologies

5: Acknowledge issues of scale while building expertise at multiple levels

6: Build development capacity and better integrate environmental justice into existing funding streams




Publication Date: December 2009

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Angela Park

Related Organizations:

  • Environmental Support Center


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice


  • Socioeconomic

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