LAS VEGAS (AP) – Several Nevada organizations led by women of color have come together to shed light on how low-income and diverse communities in the state are disproportionately affected by climate change and pollution .
Advocacy groups create website, Breathefreenv.com, which aims to raise awareness about climate change and the actions that can be taken to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health and lower energy costs for families, especially in low income communities. .
Erika Washington, executive director of Make It Work Nevada, one of the groups involved in the effort, told the Las Vegas Sun that black communities have not received as much awareness about climate change or the environment as white communities.
“It’s been very white for a very long time,” said Washington, who is black. “You have to include the people closest to the problem in order to actually make any change. “
Besides Make It Work Nevada, other participating groups include Battle Born Progress, CHISPA, Make The Road Nevada, Mi Familia Vota Nevada, the Faith Organizing Alliance, and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) Action Fund. All seven groups are led by women of color.
Laura Martin, executive director of PLAN, who is black, said it’s a rare combination to see so many groups with diverse leaders doing environmental advocacy work.
“The environment is not just public land or the recreation we can do. It’s also environmental racism, ”she said. “That’s what we wanted to do with this report, is really start to dive into this conversation, but also develop and support policy ideas that are tangible and achievable. “
The group highlighted a new report from Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) that examines the burden of energy costs and impacts on Nevadans, particularly low-income residents and communities of color.
According to the report, these groups have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing impact of climate change, making it all the more important that measures to eliminate greenhouse gases and mitigating climate change tackle these inequalities.
“Low-income households and people of color often struggle to afford the electricity and fuels they depend on to power their homes and vehicles,” the report said. “These social inequalities and many others impact all sectors of the economy, and decarbonization efforts should take into account these existing disparities in order to develop clean energy transition strategies that distribute the benefits of fairer way among the people of Nevada. “
Among its findings is a recommendation that elected officials and governments create financial incentives that make electric vehicles accessible to low-income communities.
Electric vehicles are considered an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline-powered cars, but they are often too expensive for low-income residents.
Martin suggested that policymakers focus on pushing for more public transport powered by renewable energy.