Beverly Wright
Beverly Wright (Photo credit: University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability / Flickr)

Burning fossil fuels at power plants and factories not only produces carbon pollution, it also releases other toxic air pollutants that can harm the health of nearby residents. Those residents are disproportionately low-income people of color.

Beverly Wright is founder of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

She says fighting climate change can go hand in hand with protecting vulnerable communities, but it requires a strategic approach.

“We think that equity and justice should also be included in looking at carbon trading, carbon pricing,” Wright says.

The idea behind carbon pricing is that putting a price on carbon pollution encourages companies to reduce it. But the reductions might not occur locally.

For example, companies could pay other businesses or nonprofits to cut emissions elsewhere while continuing to pollute at home.

That would benefit the climate, but not the health of the nearby community.

So Wright says that to improve equity, climate policies must be designed to benefit both people and the planet.

“When it comes to carbon trading and pricing,” she says, “the bottom line is if it does not include a reduction in co-pollutants, then it’s not just and it’s not dealing with the racial inequity that exists in this country.”

Also see: Advocate and scholar Beverly Wright wants to put justice at center of climate policies

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Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Policy & Politics