These 5 People Are Bringing Equity to the Fight Against Climate Change

These environmental justice advocates are ensuring marginalized communities are at the center of the fight.

Grist/Elsa Mengistu/Adrien Salazar/CEERT/Adam DeTour Photography/Todd Youngblood

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This story was originally published by Grist. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Climate change doesn’t discriminate, but systems created by people do. Policies and other decisions put some closer to the frontlines of disaster than others: communities of color breathe more toxic fumes, people with disabilities have no easy way out of increasingly common natural disasters, and women and children are at a higher risk of dying from the effects of climate change.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Every year, Grist compiles a list of emerging leaders—the Grist 50—working toward a sustainable, equitable future. Meet five environmental justice advocates from this year’s list who are challenging those biased systems, righting wrongs, and ensuring that marginalized communities are at the center of climate solutions.

  1. In Charlotte, Sol Nation founder Nakisa Glover turns community members’ art and conversation into on-the-ground change.
  2. Huron, California, Mayor Rey León builds new green infrastructure in his rural, predominantly Latino farming town.
  3. 17-year-old Elsa Mengistu works with youth climate movement Zero Hour to center marginalized youth voices—after all, they’ve got the biggest stake in the fate of the planet.
  4. Like the Green New Deal? You’ll love Adrien Salazar‘s even more progressive plan for New York, which would direct state funds toward neighborhoods that need it most.
  5. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond opened her own church in Boston to foster connection between communities, in the environmental justice movement and beyond.

Excited about the future? There’s more where that came from.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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