The Environmental Justice Forum on Climate Change  [Printer-friendly version]
June 2, 2008


Statement from the Environmental Justice Forum on Climate Change

As the U.S. Senate prepares to have a floor debate on climate change
and we await the fall elections and a new administration, the
Environmental Justice Forum on Climate Change declares our lack of
faith that trading mechanisms can address the present and impending
climate change crisis. Furthermore, because this is the most critical
issue of our time we call for a democratic, dialogue on climate change
inclusive of all communities and sectors of our economy, and we stand
ready to work with all for real, effective and just climate action

The Environmental Justice Forum on Climate Change is a coalition of
Environmental Justice grassroots groups and activists. It is a
coalition of those who will, and have already been, first impacted as
well as worst impacted by climate change and environmental decision-
making. Our coalition works with and within communities-of-color,
Indigenous Peoples, and low-income -- organizng residents living in
urban and rural communities across the country. These communities have
perspectives that have been absent from the urgent, essential debate
on climate change.

The EJ Forum on Climate Change will educate and mobilize members,
residents and policymakers to affect just policies and legislation

** Achieve significant, identified reductions in carbon emissions

** Protect the most burdened and vulnerable communities

** Reduce co-pollutants (i.e. airborne particulate matter, sulfur
dioxide nitrogen oxides and mercury) that negatively impact public

** Promote the reduction of hotspot pollution in overburdened

** Offset higher energy costs to low-income consumers

** Transitions us from a fossil fuel economy ensuring just transition
for workers

We have come together over the past year as a coalition of
environmental justice and grassroots organizations and activists to
(1) participate in determining the future of our economy and our
environment; (2) to challenge the cap and trade mechanism as an
effective one for achieving our goals; and (3) to acknowledge and
communicate the impacts that already New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and
Alaska communities and Indigenous Peoples are experiencing.

There have been many winners and losers as our environment has been
preserved, deteriorated and enhanced. As a nation, we cannot embark on
climate action legislation and policies anchored by the notion that
there will always be winners and losers as we have heard some say
apologetically. We have the vision, commitment and opportunity to lift
all boats.

From the communities of Oakland to New York, from the farms and bayous
of the Deep South to indigenous communities in the Southwest and
Alaska, we have spent years winning victories, reforming policy as we
work to protect the health and environment of our communities. Some of
us have worked over decades and have developed climate justice
principles as members of the Environmental Justice Climate Change
Initiative and others are new committed social justice activists, all
working to transform the environmental decision making and policy
paradigm that results in communities of color and low-income that are
disproportionately burdened by pollution and resulting health

Action is needed now to create a just climate action policy that
protects communities, workers and the environment. It will take all of
our efforts to positively transform the political will of the
grassroots and grasstops. The Forum will offer, over the next few
months, a series of policy papers and convenings to communicate and
share our vision and our specific concerns. We are mobilizing the
communities we work with to support, develop and implement effective
climate and energy policies and to promote the opportunities for a
more sustainable and healthy social and economic environment.

Together we can meet the challenge of developing a just climate action
policy. We the undersigned urge all who read this statement to work
with us to insure that our voices are part of creating a solution to
the current climate crisis that protects all who live and work in this
great country.


For Further Information:

WE ACT Communications Coordinator, Larry Parker, 212-961-1000 x 314


The Climate Justice Forum's

Principles on Carbon Reduction Policy Mechanisms

1. Whereas, the Earth's planetary climate system is rapidly and
potentially irreversibly changing due to human impacts, one of which
is the emissions of pollutants through the burning and fossil fuels;

2. Whereas, scientists and policymakers concur that current and future
climate changes will result in far-ranging effects on human health,
sociopolitical stability and the environment; and

3. Whereas, across the world, the brunt of the impacts resulting from
climate change will fall upon communities of color and low-income
communities who are least able to adapt and who already suffer from
poor environmental quality; and

4. Whereas, there is a need to enact a system that creates real,
dramatic and swift cuts in emissions of pollutants to avoid subjecting
the world to the full, largely unknown extent of impacts that will
result from climate change; and

5. Whereas, the United States needs to implement policies that will
wean the national economy off of its reliance on fossil fuels and
other polluting energy sources (including a phase-out of coal), while
also promoting energy efficiency, creating a just transition to a
green economy, and shifting our economy to being based on clean
renewable energy; and

6. Whereas, an identified revenue stream to ensure that the federal
government devotes meaningful resources to the promotion of clean
renewable energy technologies needs to be created; and

7. Whereas, the reductions in air pollution emissions necessary to
avert the environmental, political, public safety and public health
catastrophe that climate change threatens to bring will not be
achieved in the United States without strong regulation and oversight
of polluters; and

8. Whereas, a cap and trade carbon reduction system is fraught with
uncertainties, lacks transparency and creates large opportunities for
emitting facilities to engage in fraud through under-reporting and
inflating historic emissions levels; and

9. Whereas, accurate reporting is difficult to impossible in many of
the sectors that would be covered by a cap and trade system; and

10. Whereas, the initial total cap is likely to be inflated because
facilities have a strong financial incentive to inflate historic
emissions levels; and

11. Whereas, a cap and trade system is expensive and resource-
intensive from start-to-finish, including the creation of a new
regulatory structure, determining and setting a cap, monitoring
emissions and offsets, and enforcement mechanisms and actions; and

12. Whereas, a cap and trade system creates a volatile market that
does not create business incentives to invest in new technologies
because prices of emissions credits could be less than the price of
new technologies; and

13. Whereas, a cap and trade system makes economic planning difficult
because the market price, lacking regulation, is not consistent and is
difficult for businesses to predict; and

14. Whereas, a cap and trade system places the financial burden on
consumers through higher energy costs and has historically resulted in
large windfall profits for industry emitters; and

15. Whereas, a cap and trade system excludes public and affected
communities from the decision-making process surrounding polluting
facilities and their emissions of carbon and other pollutants; and

16. Whereas, the creation, implementation and likely failure of a cap
and trade system to produce measurable reductions in emissions will
significantly delay national and global reductions in emissions; and

17. Whereas, a carbon tax carbon reduction system has been found by
scientists, economists, policymakers and regulatory analysts to be the
most efficient means to reduce carbon emissions; and

18. Whereas, a carbon tax can insure predictability and create
immediate incentives for emitters to invest in new cleaning technology
for polluting facilities; and

19. Whereas, a carbon tax would provide a revenue stream to support
research and development of necessary technologies and could provide
financial assistance to mitigate economic burdens on impacted workers
and communities; and

20. Whereas, a carbon tax is relatively simpler and easier to
implement than a carbon trading system, as a system structure for
taxation already exists and could be phased in gradually over a period
of five (5) years; and

21. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that implementing a
international, federal, regional or local cap and trade carbon
reduction system is a waste of precious time and resources; and

22. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that an
environmentally sustainable and environmentally just carbon reduction
system would regulate carbon emissions and tax every emission emitted
by polluting facilities, regardless of historic emissions levels; and

23. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that an equitable
carbon tax must be set high enough to encourage emissions sources to
make financial investment in technological controls and energy
efficiency, and to begin researching and developing clean, renewable
energy options; and

24. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that a carbon tax
cannot remain static and should not merely track inflation but should
rise over time so that resource conservation and development of clean
renewable energy can continue to be an attractive alternative to
fossil fuel use; and

25. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that a carbon tax
system should not provide for offsets unless they occur within the
same facility or same geographic community as the emitting source and
also serve to address co-pollutants from that emitting source; and

26. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that a carbon tax
system cannot permit international, interstate or interjurisdictional
offsets because reductions from these types of offsets are notoriously
difficult to verify; and

27. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that a carbon
reduction system must include regulation of co-pollutants in addition
to a carbon tax; and

28. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that program revenue
from a carbon tax should be used to fund programs designed to wean the
economy off fossil fuel; should provide assistance for vulnerable
workers and communities working to transition to the new economy;
should include subsidies for energy efficiency that prioritize low-
income communities and communities of color, particularly those living
in vulnerable areas (coastal zones, floodplains, artics, urban areas);

29. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that program revenue
from a carbon tax should include devices designed to provide
assistance to low-income energy rate payers and these devices should
provide secondary prioritization and protection for middle-income
families and communities in danger of slipping into the low-income gap
as a result of the increased financial burdens of energy costs; and

30. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that program revenue
from a carbon tax should go toward retraining of affected workers;
should provide for retooling of affected industries in the energy
sector or in energy-intensive businesses; should go toward promoting
research and development of clean renewable energy and biofuels;
should provide funding for educational programs that would train the
next generation of technical experts on clean renewable energy; should
be used to provide incentives to entrepreneurial efforts to make clean
renewable energy technologies economically viable and marketable for
widespread use; and should be used to implement adaptation measures to
protect vulnerable coastal communities and strengthen health care and
the public health system's ability to deal with climate change-related
illnesses and public health problems

31. The Climate Justice Leadership Forum DECLARES that all programs
depending on revenue from a carbon tax should be funded through a
subsidy structure that phases out funding for research and development
of fossil fuel technologies and phases in funding for renewable clean
energy technologies

32. BE IT THEREFORE, RESOLVED that the Climate Justice Leadership
Forum joins with communities, organizations and leaders throughout the
world in strong and complete opposition to carbon trading and offset
systems as a means to reduce carbon emissions; and

33. BE IT THEREFORE, RESOLVED that the Climate Justice Leadership
Forum supports regulation of pollution emissions as an equitable and
immediate means to effect extensive reductions in emissions that
contribute to and cause climate change; and

34. BE IT THEREFORE, RESOLVED that the Climate Justice Leadership
Forum proposes the implementation of a carbon taxing system to bridge
the national economy's reliance on fossil fuels and to provide time
and incentive for new technologies to mature so that they can being
yielding market viable energy sources.


Signatories (as of June 1, 2008)

Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Anchorage AK

Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation, Albany, NY

Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland, CA

California Environmental Rights Alliance, Los Angeles, CA

Clark Atlanta University Environmental Justice Resource Center,
Atlanta, GA

Communities for a Better Environment, Los Angeles, CA

Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, Seattle, WA

Community In-power and Development Association, Port Arthur, TX

Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, Hartford, CT

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University, New
Orleans, LA

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Detroit, MI

Environmental Justice Action Group, Buffalo, NY

Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative, Oakland, CA

Environmental Research Foundation, New Brunswick, NJ

For a Better Bronx, Bronx, NY

Harambee House Inc., Savannah, GA

Indigenous Environmental Network, Bemidji, MN

Jesus Peoples Against Pollution, Jackson, MS

Just Transition Alliance, San Diego, CA

Land Loss Prevention Project, Durham, NC

National Black Environmental Justice Network, Washington, D.C.

National Community Revitalization Alliance, Washington, D.C.

New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, Trenton, NJ

New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, New York, NY

People Organizing to Demand Economic & Environmental Rights (PODER),
San Francisco, CA

Southwest Network for Economic and Environmental Justice, Albuquerque,

United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), Brooklyn, NY

WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Harlem, NY