Onward: RAN’s 10 Environmental Justice Demands for the Biden Administration

Our allies at the Rainforest Action Network are fighting to preserve forests, protect the climate and uphold human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice. We hope you take a few minutes to read this story, then vote for the RAN to receive a share of our $150,000 monthly donations grant this February.

This story was featured on the Rainforest Action Network blog, The Understory, on January 19, 2021 and was written by Ginger Cassady, RAN’s Executive Director.

Onward. That’s our mantra at this historic juncture — post impeachment, pre-new administration, mid-pandemic.

We need to move forward for racial justice, move forward to keep forests standing, and move forward to halt climate catastrophe.

Of course, we can’t simply forget the past four years. We have a *lot* of work in front of us to repair the damage of climate denialism, egregious corporate welfare and recklessness, and the intentional dismantling of voting rights, civil rights, and our faith in science and facts.

But now is the time to build for a just and sustainable future. Because even during the worst administration in modern history, we have still been able to make incredible progress — forcing PepsiCo, the biggest snackfood company, to clean their supply chains of deforestation and human rights abuse; pushing JPMorgan Chase to announce alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement; bringing insurance companies like AXIS and Chubb to announce policies restricting fossil fuel coverage.

The foundation of this movement forward must be built upon racial justice. Over the past seven years, the Black Lives Matter movement has uplifted the need for true progress; and in January, the Capitol invasion embodied the ugly culmination of four years of an openly racist president. We must now take this opportunity to begin the reparation process for our people and our planet.

RAN is proud to be a convening partner in a growing coalition of hundreds of organizations calling for immediate action on multiple fronts to move us forward. We need to act aggressively and urgently to launch such a large-scale transition in a just and equitable way. We need to limit global warming to below 1.5°C and we need to ensure that working families and frontline, fenceline and Indigenous communities are leading the decision making and implementation of these solutions.

This will require effort from all of us. But it will also require leadership that we have not seen up until now.

TEN ACTIONS THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION & CONGRESS MUST TAKE:

  1. Declare a national climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act.
  2. Keep forests standing and keep fossil fuels in the ground: Take regulatory actions to shift financial flows from fossil fuels and commodities driving deforestation to climate solutions.
  3. Stop fossil fuel exports and infrastructure approvals: Thank you for banning KXL. Now please do the same for the Line 3 and DAPL pipelines within your first 100 days in office.
  4. Pass the BREATHE Act: Re-invest in the safety of our communities. Defund budgets for police forces that have consistently demonstrated that they are fundamentally designed to sustain white privilege at the expense of Black, Brown, and other marginalized communities. This means re-investing in schools, job programs, affordable housing, health, and human resources, and environmental justice. These are the services that keep communities safe.
  5. Make polluters pay: Investigate and prosecute fossil fuel polluters for the damages they have caused and end all fossil fuel subsidies. Make fossil fuel companies reimburse the government for the COVID funding they received. Commit to veto all legislation that grants legal immunity for polluters, undermines existing environmental laws, or advance false solutions.
  6. Advance climate justice: Direct federal agencies to assess and mitigate environmental harms to disproportionately impacted Indigenous Peoples, People and Communities of Color, and low-wealth communities.
  7. Protect our right to protest: we are calling for a national recommitment to protect the fundamental first amendment right of people in every state to peacefully protest injustice without the fear of being maced, beaten, bitten, shot, or thrown into a van by unmarked, unidentifiable government agents.
  8. Ensure the transition to a clean economy is just: to protect our communities, workers, and economy.
  9. Power the electricity sector with 100% clean and renewable energy: by 2030 and promote energy democracy.
  10. Strengthen the Clean Air Act: to set a science-based national pollution cap for greenhouse pollutants. Then, use all Clean Air Act programs to drive emissions towards zero economy-wide.

While there is hope and opportunity in this moment, there is also plenty of work to do — and that will include exercising the basic and vital right to protest and dissent. We are also calling for a national recommitment to protect the fundamental right of people in every U.S. state to peacefully protest injustice without the fear of being maced, beaten, bitten, shot, or thrown into a van by unmarked, unidentifiable government agents.

At Rainforest Action Network, we know a lot about protests and peaceful civil disobedience. That is one of the great levers of positive social change in this country.

We will continue to fight for people and planet. We will continue to join together with committed activists and frontline communities across the globe against systemic injustice. We hope you will join us by voting to increase our CREDO grant now.