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The world’s most vulnerable communities, which are the least responsible for the climate emergency, are feeling the effects the hardest. These “frontline communities” have already been feeling the effects of climate change as droughts, fires, storms and the encroaching sea intrude into their lives and livelihoods. Consider minority neighborhoods that were wiped out after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, or indigenous populations in Alaska whose livelihoods and homes are literally melting away. We covered other examples of harms to humanity from fossil fuels in an earlier lesson.

“To put it plainly, what many people don’t see – and the climate movement hasn’t been talking about nearly enough – is the simple fact that fossil fuel pollution and climate change hit low-income families and communities of color the hardest. In many instances, folks don’t see the coal fired power plants that frontline communities see when they wake up and when they go to sleep. Folks don’t see the petrochemical facilities on the Gulf Coast in Cancer Alley. They don’t see the pipelines that Standing Rock members and others continue to focus on and to push away. We’ll never win the fight against the climate crisis unless we consider climate equity as part of the solution. You can’t talk about the impacts of climate change and not talk about the frontline communities who for decades have been asking folks to focus on these impacts.” –Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior vice president of climate, environmental justice & community revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus

“Climate change is the most extreme human rights challenge of our time, and a human rights-based approach is needed to solve it.” –President Carter

Many organizations and businesses have been working on climate climate justice issues. Good resources for additional reading: