Our state faces three converging crises: the COVID19 pandemic and the inevitable economic recession; the climate emergency; and extreme inequality backstopped by white supremacy and racist policing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed systemic inequities and the deep web of interconnections between the climate crisis and our economic and health systems. Low-income communities and communities of color suffer from asthma at higher rates and are therefore now more vulnerable to COVID-19. As protesters take to the streets to protest police brutality against Black people, they are doing so in the context of a pandemic that has already taken the lives of an appalling 1 in 2,000 Black Americans.
The same systems that deprive Black people, communities of color, and poor people of healthcare and expose them to the ravages of COVID-19 also make them more vulnerable to extreme weather events.
Unemployment is rising at the fastest rate since the 2008 financial crash and could eventually reach 20% — twice as high as the Great Recession. We need immediate and sustained intervention to protect people’s health and economic well-being with a particular focus on redirecting resources from police to communities facing environmental injustice and especially Black communities. The Environmental Justice Policy – as adopted by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) in 2017 – has not been rigorously enforced across all entities under Secretary Theoharides’ authority. The EEA Agency Services enumerated therein must be reviewed for progress by the legislature and re-written to codify their centrality to all future climate legislation and executive orders. The review of this policy should complement the principles and framework of S.453/H.4264: An Act Relative to Environmental Justice. We must also begin planning our economic recovery in a way that protects us from the impacts of climate change and lifts up workers and frontline communities.
To tackle these issues head on, we need a Green Stimulus Plan for Massachusetts. We need hundreds of thousands of good paying, green union jobs to create safe and healthy homes, build renewable infrastructure, and create community resiliency that simultaneously restarts our economy and tackles climate injustice. These jobs and resulting investments must be made available to the communities hit hardest by both the climate crisis and the COVID-19 crisis. Importantly, this immediate stimulus must be paired with a long-term green jobs program so that we can both recover from this crisis and build a just and sustainable economy. If the Commonwealth receives federal money for COVID-19 relief in an upcoming stimulus bill, it is imperative that our political leaders help put people to work under an equitable and sustainable framework that offers a brighter future for all.
Sign the Petition for the Just Green Stimulus for MA here.