Our Commitment to Climate Justice Published on June 29, 2017

An opinion piece in The New York Times recently was “The Green Energy Revolution Will Happen Without Trump.” The authors, Stuart Thompson and Vikas Bajaj, claimed that the fight against climate change will go on with or without the support of the White House.  At Peace Development Fund we absolutely agree.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, which places the responsibility to mitigate climate change in the hands of governments, has many people questioning the future of clean energy. Though the implementation of federal regulations would require states to invest more in clean energy is not likely on President Trump’s agenda, there is still much hope to be had. More than 1,200 governors, mayors, college and university leaders, businesses and investors have signed an open letter proclaiming their commitment to pursuing “ambitious climate goals” and working together to take forceful action to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.

At Peace Development Fund we fight for climate justice because we have always believed in equitable relationships among people, nations and the environment. We know that environmental justice affects each and every one of us. That’s why in 2015, we had PDF representatives on the ground at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. It’s also why, in past years and in our grantmaking, we fund organizations that combat attacks on the environment in their own communities, helping them to grow stronger and achieve their goals.

An example of one of these organizations is Coal River Mountain Watch, a small non-profit working in communities affected by damaging practices of the coal industry in southern West Virginia. Their main focus is the process of mountaintop removal, a relatively new method of mining at the summit of a mountain, in which explosives are used to remove land and extract coal seams. This method requires less money and fewer employees than traditional mining, but has negative effects on surrounding communities as excess rock and soil are dumped into valley fills, polluting waterways and damaging ecosystems. In 2015, Coal River Mountain Watch applied for a community organizing grant from PDF in order to support their work against this destructive process. Since then, we have been proud to call them one of our many grantees fighting for environmental justice as they provide education about their cause, host workshops and speak out against pollution of waterways in their community.

In this year’s grant cycle, PDF received many applications from organizations working to protect the environment and continue the “green energy revolution.” We look forward to announcing our 2017 grantees next month and reaffirming our commitment to climate justice. This fight is real and relevant with new challenges each day. Together with our grantees, PDF is willing to step into the leadership role our federal government has vacated.

by Allyson Huntoon

Allyson Huntoon is a summer intern at Peace Development Fund and a junior and at Mount Holyoke College, where she is majoring in politics.

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