This Friday April, 22 is Earth Day and we at Fearless Futures are celebrating with a brand new quiz on anti-oppression and climate change. You can use this quiz to test your knowledge of how climate change is related to equity and inclusion, and what it will take to shift responsibility onto corporations emitting the majority of greenhouse gases and pollution.
This work is more urgent than ever, with recent news that the Supreme Court of the United States has just repealed part of the Clean Water Act of 1972, which “prevents water pollution by chemical, physical, and biological agents known to cause cancer, disease, and nerve damage”. By limiting the power of states to enforce the Clean Water Act, the court paves the way for legal routes to environmental racism: policies and corporate land decisions that deliberately place communities of colour in danger of toxic conditions.
There are countless examples of ongoing water contamination in majority-Black communities (such as Flint, Michigan), which a report found was due to drinking water systems that constantly violated the law. When policymakers enforce regulations for some people, while sacrificing the health of others to corporate interests, we can plainly see the devaluing of people of colour’s lives. These toxic outcomes are not new either; they are a direct result of historical and present-day disinvestment, discrimination, and residential segregation. Take for example, the crisis of Black maternal mortality rates and how medical racism intersects with environmental policies that expose Black pregnant people to toxic fumes or dirty water.
This is why Professor Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò urges us to consider how climate change must be an integral part of paying reparations to communities of colour. Táíwò emphasises how reparations initiatives must be global, to address how the enslavement and colonisation of indigenous communities created a global world order that leaves formerly colonised people much more vulnerable to the disasters of climate change today.
While there are many ways our companies can be a part of this movement, one direction to follow is that of activists and community leaders working towards an energy democracy. Using this model, utilities would be publicly owned in order to “shift the incentives governing how those important social advantages—as well as the associated disadvantages, such as pollution—are controlled and managed.” What commitments has your company made to limit its impact on the climate crisis?
In the UK right now, climate activist protests have successfully stopped several oil companies from distributing supplies to petrol stations. While many report this as a “nuisance” to motorists, these are the direct disruptions that can lead to meaningful change and protection of human lives. What is your company doing to divest from fossil fuels? Can you identify what aspects of production are the most environmentally detrimental and mitigate them? We have a long way to go to disrupt corporate interests in profit over people’s lives, but you can start with this quiz to ask how your own company may be culpable.