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Climate Change Burdens Communities of Color

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Roundtable Discussion at Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day Calls for Action on Climate to Protect Some of The Most Impacted Communities 

Washington, D.C., April 21, 2015 - Carbon pollution hurts all Americans, but communities of color and communities in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods often shoulder a much heavier burden. Many of these communities not only bear significant health burdens due to proximity to existing dirty energy facilities, but also face increased risks brought on by climate change.

To call attention for the need for climate solutions, Earth Day Network and Emerald Cities Collaborative hosted an interactive panel backstage at Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day, the large-scale public event held on April 18 on the National Mall on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  The diverse panel included experts from leading non-governmental organizations.

Co-moderators Denise Fairchild of Emerald Cities Collaborative and Mark Magaña of Green Latinos led the discussion with partnership and participation from Environmental Defense Fund and Defend Our Future, Natural Resources Defense Council and Voces Verdes. Panelists included Lydia Camarillo, Southwest Voters Education Project; Adrianna Quintero, Voces Verdes; and Lucía Oliva Hennelly, Environmental Defense Fund and Defend Our Future.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, announced in June 2014 and set to be finalized in the summer of 2015, will set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the single biggest source of carbon pollution. Panelists explored the impacts of climate change and carbon pollution on communities of color and the need for a strong rule to protect communities.

“Latinos and African-Americans are the most supportive of the government taking action to fight carbon pollution,” said Adrianna Quintero of Voces Verdes. “We have an opportunity to bring these important voices to the call for strong action to fight the pollution that causes climate change.”

“Climate change impacts everyone, but there are communities, like the Latino-American community, that are often hit first and worst.  We need to understand disproportionate impacts to be able to address them, in what fundamentally comes down to a question of basic human rights -- including the right of all people to clean, healthy air,” said Lucía Oliva Hennelly of Defend our Future.

“Conserving our natural resources and being good stewards of our land, air and water have long been integral parts of Latino culture,” said Mark Magaña, President, Green Latinos. “Unfortunately, our communities suffer greatly from the disparate effects of climate change, so it makes sense that we take this time to examine the impact of carbon pollution on communities of color.”

“We must educate minority and diverse communities in order to activate a new generation of climate voters," said Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network. "Creating a climate narrative with local citizens encourages them to fight against the risks associated with climate change.”

Mostly, the panelists highlighted the opportunities that climate action can bring. “Tea Partiers and libertarians are starting to recognize the need for distributed energy,” said Emerald Cities Collaborative President and CEO Denise Fairchild. “There is a paradigm shift to not only kill the bad, but to raise up the good.”

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About Earth Day Network
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN), the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to build environmental democracy and to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. For more information, visit www.earthday.org

About Emerald Cities Collaborative
Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) is a national nonprofit network of organizations working together to advance a sustainable environment while creating greater economic opportunities for all. We’re transforming the energy efficiency sector in a high road way, by retrofitting building stock, creating high wage jobs, and revitalizing the local economies of our metropolitan regions.

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