Letter: People of color bear the burden of climate change

(Bebeto Matthews | AP file photo) Climate change activists participate in an environmental demonstration as part of a global youth-led day of action in New York on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

As stated by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson in the Washington Post: “Our racial inequality crisis is intertwined with our climate crisis. If we don’t work on both, we will succeed at neither.”

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communications released new data on May 19, showing that Americans are still concerned about climate change, even during the pandemic. Seventy-three percent of people polled understand that climate change is happening, which is as high as it’s ever been.

At the same time, racism has boiled over in our country, forcing people to take to the streets to demand justice. The evidence is abundant that people of color disproportionately bear the harms from the destruction of COVID-19 and by a changing climate, here in Utah and across America. We have had enough.

The summer of 2020 may forever be known as the time when Americans woke up and found our voice. We learned that we can and must demand a future that is environmentally and racially just. We are expressing our opinions — because we can — and we are asking our local governments and Congress to respond by enacting major legislation. Steps are being taken at the national and local level to address policing in this country.

Just as essential, last weekend, over 2,000 climate activists from across the country participated in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby national conference. At our CCL virtual conference, members of Congress from both parties spoke about the importance of passing climate legislation to prevent the worst effects of climate change on those least able to protect themselves from its destruction.

To our community leaders, businesses and individuals: Join us in supporting legislation to clean our air and put the brakes on climate change, for the health of all our communities. There is no better time than the present.

Lauren Barros, co-leader of the Wasatch Back Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Park City

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