Develop Climate Policy from the Ground Up.

AuthorRogers-Wright, Anthony Karefa

Over the past year, #CreenNewDeal rhetoric has become ubiquitous. When New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, both Democrats, released their Green New Deal resolution in February 2019, thought leaders and environmental organizations alike hailed it as the proverbial "Moses" that would deliver us from climate change and its associated social catastrophes.

Yet even as the resolution has provided visionary moonshots and catalyzed a rigorous discussion, it also serves as a cautionary tale for progressives as we map out a truly transformative and inclusive approach to climate change.

It can no longer be debated, denied, or doubted that the climate crisis is happening or that it is especially iniquitous for black, brown, indigenous, and poor white people who live near toxic fossil fuel operations--those we in the climate justice sphere call frontline communities. To dismantle the climate crisis, good policy--and any resulting legislation--must center frontline communities and their liberation. As such, it's necessary to remain vigilant from the onset of policy creation through its implementation.

Any Green New Deal, and all climate policy in general, must not be utilized solely, or primarily, as a fundraising tactic or talking point to win a few elections. It must be, first and foremost, a tool that builds, establishes, and maintains long-term grassroots power that fosters translocal organizing models which are inclusive, equitable, and accessible to all people.

Shortly before the official release of the Green New Deal resolution, a coalition of frontline groups known as the Climate Justice Alliance admonished legislators to avoid a top-down process, calling instead for "the strengthening of community-based and tribal leadership, and Indigenous, place-based strategies." The Indigenous Environmental Network, an alliance member, added, "The government-to-government relationship of tribes and the United States means that the U.S. government [cannot] treat tribes as mere 'stakeholders' or simply as part of the general public. Tribes, their tribal members, and indigenous communities are rights-holders."

An important takeaway here is that policy development must be a bottom-up process--especially when it involves allocating much-needed funding to frontline communities and grassroots organizations with minimal bureaucratic delay. As Dawn Phillips, executive director of the Right to the City Alliance...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT