In just two days, political leaders, scientists, and advocates from nearly 200 countries will convene in Scotland for the 26th UN climate change summit (aka COP26). Ahead of this momentous mega-conference, our Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch asks the question on so many minds about whether our leaders will be able to accelerate action on climate. Here’s her recent blog post entitled “The World Is Watching: Will the US Be a Leader?” As Molly notes, “All eyes will be on the US. Why? Because we are the nation responsible for the most cumulative climate pollution. Will we take leadership of this urgent problem?” Of course, the world is watching to see if our Congress supports President Biden’s bold climate agenda as laid out in the Build Back Better Act. This would mean dramatic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions among so many other climate and health provisions that will help protect our children’s health and future.
BUILD BACK BETTER NOW!
Our Arizona field organizer Columba Sainz (pictured above) spoke with MSNBC to call on Sen.Sinema (D-AZ) to give her support to climate action: “Our families are struggling…my message to Senator Sinema would be—support us, and vote on the Build Back Better, it will help low-income communities and communities of color.” Columba pointed out that as Arizona experiences more extreme heat days, its poorest citizens’ energy bills continue to climb.
The Guardian interviewed Arizona field organizer Columba Sainz about her views on Sen. Sinema, who has yet to clarify her position on the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act. As Columba says: “Since she’s been in office, it’s been nearly impossible for community members to connect with her. We don’t know whether Sinema will protect us.” Columba’s younger daughter has wheezing episodes and respiratory problems triggered by poor air quality. “In my family,” she says, “heat is our enemy. It interacts with stagnant air to create and trap ozone pollution.” The feature ends on this note: “[Columba] works with other families who cannot afford air conditioning during punishing heat waves. The state recorded more than 500 heat-related deaths in 2020, which public health experts say is probably an undercount. In Maricopa county alone, officials tallied at least 113 heat-related deaths this year so far.”
WDVM-TV spoke to our West Virginia field organizer Lucia Valentine about Sen. Joe Manchin and the Build Back Better climate agenda. She says: “Communities and families like my own have suffered from flooding and extreme climate disasters and a lack of economic opportunity here in our state. We need to follow the weight of where things are going and that is clean energy.”
FOX 47 News covered a Build Back Better press conference headlined by our Michigan field organizer Elizabeth Hauptman of Moms Clean Air Force. Elizabeth, whose son has asthma, explained how children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution: “Pollution harms all of us, but disproportionately impacts children. Children are smaller and they’re closer to the ground than the rest of us — standing just about tailpipe high, where concentration is directed right at them.” As the reporter concluded: “[I]f implemented, the speakers said, [Build Back Better] could bring Michigan hundreds of new clean energy jobs.”
CLIMATE & COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
Speaking on a Telemundo Town Hall panel, our Arizona field organizer Columba Sainz joined panelists to discuss the impact that climate change has on the Latino community, particularly essential workers. Columba points out that Latinos are among the most vulnerable in the country regarding air pollution, saying: “I think it is time for our federal government to vote for solid investments, especially for our community….70% of Latinos are counting on their elected officials to invest robustly in our climate future.” Columba concludes by calling on constituents to pressure their representatives to do more for the Latino community.[Translated from the original Spanish]
The Arizona Republic features Arizona field organizer Columba Sainz about the effects of pollution and climate change on communities of color and her journey as a clean-air advocate. As part of her work with EcoMadres, Columba has met with several families confronting triple-digit heat waves without adequate cooling: “It’s through these stories I have learned that we have to keep talking to our moms, talking to families and just let them know about how environmental issues are directed to Latinos. Because we really need to know what’s going on. And sometimes, we don’t know.”