Our state is facing a public health and economic crisis at an unprecedented scale. The impacts of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are disproportionately impacting working and lower-income people and communities of color. Similarly, many of the solutions needed to recover from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 will also ease the transition to climate justice.
If Washington State takes bold and comprehensive action now, we can demonstrate pathways to a Just Transition, not only beyond this pandemic but to achieve our vision of a just, sustainable, and resilient society. The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis, it’s an environmental justice crisis. They are intertwined. While the pandemic exacerbates the disproportionate health and economic impacts of frontline communities, we know that climate change will result in additional harms disproportionately impacting people of color.
Here in Washington, the state legislature may take up a special session to respond to the crisis. Either way, planning is already underway to determine what will and won’t be on the table during the next full session starting in January 2021.
In an effort to ensure our communities’ voices are included in these venues, we’ve worked with our membership across Washington to develop policy recommendations for the path forward.
These bold steps include:
- Centering communities who are disproportionately impacted in decision-making, resource allocations, and evaluation of COVID-19 response and recovery.
- Strengthen place-based communities and self-determination by supporting culturally-rooted community based organizations.
- Provide immediate free, no-barriers access to COVID-19 health services and workplace safety measures while creating equitable, green revenue, and financing sources that support basic needs and green job opportunities accessible to all.
- Transition from extractive resources toward universal access to clean water and energy sufficiency.