During the last two days of May, just before the U.S. President pulled this country out of the Paris climate accord, a group of leaders from climate and environmental justice coalitions in Washington, Oregon, and California held the first west coast meeting of its kind to advance climate justice policy.
Over two days our organizations discussed climate justice principles, policies, and the strategies to build power in our communities, communities of color and people with lower incomes, and win equitable and effective policies. Together our three states are around 50 million people and the fifth largest economy in the world. People of color now make-up more than half of that regional population at around 27 million. With strength in numbers and strong support for climate action, communities of color are emerging as the new center of gravity for climate policy regionally.
The gathering was organized by Front and Centered, and supported by the 11th Hour Foundation and took place in the Bay Area. The gathering included Front and Centered, Got Green, Community to Community Development, and Puget Sound Sage from Washington State; the Coalition of Communities of Color Coalition, Verde, Organizing Power Activating Leaders (OPAL), and the Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) from Oregon; and California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), Asian Pacific Islander Network (APEN), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), and Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environmental, and the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability.
This was just a small sample of the organizations that have been organize communities and growing power on the west coast to shape climate policy and pass laws.
In the days following the Paris agreement exit, the governors of California, Washington, Oregon and other states launched the U.S. Climate Alliance to maintain U.S. commitment to the accord. At our west coast meeting, we affirmed that communities of color and people with lower incomes, the people hit first and worst by climate change, will become the driving force for advancing climate justice.