Climate Justice

We stand for healthy lives for all: pathways into Green Jobs; local and inclusive investment in green infrastructure; and solutions that build economic opportunity, lift people out of poverty and challenge racism, as we work for a livable planet.

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  • Helping create and manage our growing mailing list through data entry work
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Interested in learning more about how to build leadership within your congregation, amplify your prophetic voice, strengthen community and address the issues impacting your people?

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We welcome a conversation with you about pressures impacting your congregation and community and how faith-based community organizing can help you respond. We welcome a conversation about how POWER is equipping congregations across the city to play a more powerful role in shaping policies that effect families, neighborhoods, and our city.

Give us a call at 215-232-7697 or email us at info@powerphiladelphia.org and we’ll set up a time to talk.

We are looking forward to the conversation.

Climate Justice: Working for Racial and Economic Justice on a Livable Planet

Vision and Approach:

POWER has created a moral framework to align a wide range of partners and organizations to work for both equity and the environment:

    • We see the intersection of race and economics as integral to the climate conversation.
    • We make front and center the voices of people most affected by poverty, racism and climate crisis. Black, Brown, poor and immigrant communities and allies are building a multi-faith, multi-racial movement to transform the old energy economy into an inclusive, clean energy economy.  
    • We believe the rights and dignity of workers are essential to any transition from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable one.
    • We stand for healthy lives for all: pathways into Green Jobs; local and inclusive investment in green infrastructure; and solutions that build economic opportunity, lift people out of poverty and challenge racism, as we work for a livable planet.
    • We build bridges between urban and rural communities and between the U.S. and Global communities to create a racially and economically just movement that is both very local and very universal, putting community and care of the earth over exploitation and greed.

The Situation:

Philadelphia is facing the disastrous juncture of extreme inequality and climate crisis.

On one hand, it is the largest poor city in America. In some neighborhoods, as many as one in four residents—a majority of whom are Black and Brown—face unemployment, struggle to put food on the table, strain to pay rent, utility and other bills, and suffer from asthma and a range of chronic illnesses.

At the same time, Philadelphia’s communities of color and low-income neighborhoods are overrun with toxic fossil fuel sites (e.g., oil refineries, chemical plants and garages), exposing our most vulnerable residents to dangerous levels of chemical and other toxins. This in turn leads to limited economic development, lower property values, and bad health outcomes, including dramatically reduced life expectancy. These are the effects of environmental racism.

But the news is not all bad.  POWER sees a huge opportunity to create a just transition to a green, renewable, and inclusive energy economy in Philadelphia, the region, and the state. POWER’s Climate Justice effort is working to lift at least one in five Philadelphia families out of poverty with strategic, smart and targeted investments that include a vision of clean energy transit, sustainable urban agriculture, and creating local solar energy with associated green jobs throughout the city.

Milestones and Victories:

Grounded in our Economic Dignity work, POWER leaders began exploring how to respond to effects of the climate crisis on our most vulnerable communities in 2015.

POWER joined the Power Local Green Jobs campaign, co-sponsored by the Earth Quaker Action Team. We started calling on local energy corporations to be bold leaders in addressing both climate crisis AND extreme inequality. Focused on PECO, the largest utility in the region, Power Local Green Jobs has begun seeking a dramatic increase in the purchase of local solar power with attention to job training, hiring and ownership opportunities for the people who need them the most.

In October 2017, POWER convened a dynamic, two-day conference—”Climate Justice and Jobs: Building the Beloved Community”—that gathered more than 125 people and more than 20 organizations and coalitions.  Together, we created greater awareness and strategic alignment among area groups concerned with climate and economic justice.

POWER has testified at many press conference, hearings and public meetings, taking presentations to dozens of houses of worship, union halls, and other civic organizations.

Most recently POWER used a civil rights law to challenge environmental racism. SEPTA is proposing a new fossil fuel plant in Nicetown, a neighborhood already overburdened by poverty, toxic fumes and high asthma rates. POWER lodged a legal request to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for the opening of an investigation into air quality in the Nicetown neighborhood. See the press release here.

Campaign Goals and Strategies:

The Climate Justice work is focused on:

Building the Local Green Jobs campaign
POWER believes that we must invest in a new a climate-just economy, which creates tangible jobs to help lift people out of poverty, while caring for the planet.  This means:

    • Investing in renewable energy systems, like solar, that not only cut emissions, but also unburden low-income residents from high energy costs;
    • Challenging the status quo in who controls energy; and
    • Creating community wealth, changing the game of poverty all together.

More specifically, the Power Local Green Jobs campaign seeks to:

  • Increase the purchase of local solar power so that 20% of PECO’s electricity comes from its local service area by 2025;
  • Spur solar installation and community ownership in high unemployment areas, starting in North Philadelphia; and
  • Prioritize local wealth building by calling for energy produced by local workers, paid living wages, and by supporting low-income ownership of solar energy production.

Aligning the local climate justice movement
As in many areas, organizations working to promote a cleaner environment and those promoting economic and racial justice don’t see the critical connection between our issues.  One of the central goals of our Climate Justice work is to create greater alignment amongst environment and equity groups. POWER’s city-wid, regional, and statewide climate justice convenings are an important part of this movement building.  

Resources:

Please contact a team member below to learn more about different ways to get involved in our Climate Justice campaign.

RABBI JULIE GREENBERG | CLIMATE JUSTICE COORDINATOR

jgreenberg@powerinterfaith.org

ANTHONY GIANCATARINO | SENIOR POLICY FELLOW

agiancatarino@powerinterfaith.org

TERRI BURGIN | CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW

tburgin@powerinterfaith.org