Climate change is an overarching topic that connects many of the specific problems that EJLRI seeks to address such as asthma, urban air quality, and brownfield sites. Climate change is particularly important to urban communities of color because it exacerbates existing environmental and health disparities. Low-income communities are the least responsible for causing climate change, yet disproportionately suffer from its effects. For example, storm surges or flooding in industrial or contaminated areas poses extreme risk for nearby residents, while high heat days exacerbate problems of poor air quality, urban heat island effect, and asthma hospitalizations. In response, EJLRI has implemented community-based climate solutions such as energy efficiency home weatherizations, the low-carbon Green DRIVE veggie oil bus, and educational community forums to develop climate strategies and policies.
Our core strategy for responding to climate change and building community resiliency features two distinct approaches. First, we seek to work within the community to develop strong youth leadership through our existing programs and projects for students. Through these hands-on, educational experiences, youth gain both the knowledge and the resources to combat climate injustice in Rhode Island. These include:
Second, we create opportunities to network and collaborate with other EJ organizations to share models and practices that amplify innovate, holistic, and replicable EJ climate change solutions. We conduct peer-exchanges with regional, national, and international organizations in order to cross-fertilize ideas and collectively develop and define innovative strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Previous allies have included:
Together, these strategies amplify effective EJ solutions that holistically address the root causes of intersecting crises, meet the needs of vulnerable populations, and enable young people to lead the way into a truly sustainable future.