Philanthropy Should Support States and Cities to Keep Advancing the Climate Movement

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Philanthropy Should Support States and Cities to Keep Advancing the Climate Movement
by Vien Truong, National Director of Green For All

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to dissolve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, back out of the Paris Agreement, open public lands for fracking and deregulate the fossil fuel industry. He is appointing climate science deniers and those with ties in the oil and gas industry to top level positions.

In response, attendees at the recent program, “Climate Change: What’s Next Post-Election,” expressed justifiable shock and fear about what may happen in the next few years for the climate movement and struggling families living at the frontlines of pollution and climate disaster. Low-income communities and people of color on the frontlines will face the greatest attacks, and face the most real and persistent danger to their health and livelihoods. It has never been more important than now to stand together to protect vulnerable communities and fight for equitable climate solutions that will create an inclusive green economy for all.

Given Trump’s plans to undo the most significant U.S. actions to address climate change, it is time to call up state and local leaders to advance a bold climate agenda. A defensive battle is needed at the federal level and we also must move a proactive agenda. States, cities, private stakeholders and utilities will play a pivotal role in advancing an inclusive clean energy economy. Philanthropists can maximize their impact by working with these sectors on clean energy solutions that also invest in communities directly affected by pollution and climate change. By giving at least equal attention to the states and localities, we can continue advancing a climate movement and an inclusive clean energy economy.

We must hold and work for a future that protects the most vulnerable and creates an inclusive economy for all. The next Administration’s policies will undercut families and communities on all fronts - including healthcare, immigration, education, LGBT and women’s rights. The battles will be tougher than ever and we must be stronger than ever if we are to succeed. As such, a broad-based coalition for climate action is crucial. We must invest in organizing, educating, mobilizing, and equipping frontline communities to wage a strong offense at the grassroots. When talking about climate policy, we must remember how these are the same communities on the frontlines of pollution and climate change - facing floods and storms, suffering from illnesses caused by industrial pollution, evacuating their homes because of rising sea levels. We must remember communities like Flint, MI who still do not have clean running water. With the inevitable cuts to social programs and loss of government funding to nonprofits, organizations on the frontlines are under serious threat. There was talk of increasing financial support to large environmental organizations to buttress against the rollback of environmental regulations. But, smaller grassroots organizations serving marginalized communities are severely underfunded and will need philanthropic support more than ever under a Trump presidency. We cannot win without funding the frontlines.

This next phase in the environmental movement requires unity and inclusion. We must be organized. We must break through our silos and collaborate. This is not just about the fight against climate injustice. It’s about democracy, a better economy and a better country for us all.

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