So we passed the Inflation Reduction Act. What’s next for climate justice?
Reflections and invitations from Rachel Karasik
In mid-August, amid record setting temperatures, heatwaves, and flooding events, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act. The act is the US’ largest investment into climate mitigation ever. These investments will promote clean energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions and make electric vehicles and heat pumps more accessible. The bill can cut emissions by 40%, begin to address environmental injustices, and create jobs. Climate change as well as jobs and the economy are political issues that are priorities for Jewish voters and voters across party lines.
While the face of this legislation from the senate is a seemingly unlikely alliance between senators Manchin and Schumer, it’s momentum was powered by, in the words of our comrades at Dayenu, who can read more about at this link, “decades of organizing led by Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-income communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and more recently, by young people.” These grassroots efforts — which have frankly been admonished by leaders and in the media, labeled as histrionic, unrealistic, and not based in science— communicated the urgency of the climate crisis to the American public. This is not about a polar bear floating on a thinning ice sheet in the Arctic.
Climate change is here and let me be clear: if it has not affected you or a loved one yet, it will. In the past year as CJJ has become immersed in climate justice knowledge and activism in North Carolina, I have met climate refugees from California escaping fire seasons that have destroyed their homes. I learned from North Carolinians fighting fracked gas pipelines from the motels they live in years after hurricanes wiped out their communities. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, I FaceTimed my mom as she tried to save decades of family memories now floating in flood water.
This bill is not perfect. It favors the fossil fuel industry, which keeps Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-wealth communities across the country on the frontlines of industrial pollution, racism, and poverty. It allows oil and gas development on public lands. It excludes critical investments in childcare and family care and does not provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status recipients, and essential workers. It does not invest adequately in climate resilience, which prepares communities to respond to the ongoing natural disasters and hazards they are facing today.
So, what is next? Let’s start by celebrating this victory, and acknowledging the Jewish climate movement’s role. Let us then remember that this work is far from over. At CJJ we will continue to invest in shared learning on environmental justice. We will continue to support North Carolina’s League of Conservation Voters Foundation’s voting rights and voter registration work, we will communicate opportunities to support communities affected by natural disasters.
We will also join Dayenu in their upcoming efforts to keep this momentum going and ensure future legislative efforts do not give a pass to the fossil fuel industry. And we hope you do too. We encourage you to take action now in these three ways:
- Launching the Chutzpah 2022 campaign to mobilize voters and change the political landscape. To defend the IRA's investments and prevent the fossil fuel industry from turning back the clock, we need to ensure that our elected leaders have the Chutzpah to continue making climate a priority. Learn more about the Chutzpah 2022 get-out-the-vote campaign and how you can get involved here. Mark your calendars to join the virtual campaign kick-off, Wednesday. Sept. 7, 7:00-8:30pm ET in partnership with the Environmental Voter Project (EVP).
- Standing with impacted communities to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuel companies snuck some nasty provisions into the IRA, including opening additional public land and water for oil and gas drilling. We must stop dirty deals that expand fossil fuels and harm communities on the frontlines of poverty, racism, and pollution. Sign this letter from our allies at People vs. Fossil Fuels and stay tuned for additional action opportunities.
- Urging President Biden to declare a climate emergency, fully leveraging the power of his office. We’ve pushed the limits of climate action in this Congress (see Chutzpah 2022 for how we're working to change the political landscape), but there is so much more the federal government can do to confront the climate crisis. Add your name and boost Dayenu's petition calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and use executive authority to confront the crisis.
If you want to get more involved in this work, please do not hesitate to contact CJJ-Durham/Orange County chapter leader Rachel Karasik at [email protected]