Sustainability encompasses both environmental action and efforts to build just and equitable communities. Indeed, climate change and pollution disproportionately affect people of color around the world. Therefore, the work of environmental justice is directly tied to equity and social justice.
The connections between sustainability and equity have often gone unnoticed or even been rejected. Nevertheless, the links between systemic racism and environmental injustice are undeniable.
Better understanding these links can help us all work towards building a more equitable and sustainable society. We’ve been delving even deeper into this work and these connections in the last few weeks and wanted to share what we’re reading and learning. Here are some resources we’ve found helpful:
PBS Utah put together this short conversational series How to Talk to Kids about Race, featuring several people from our SLC community you might recognize.
Somini Segupta wrote an expansive guide entitled “Read Up on the Links between Racism and the Environment“ for the New York Times. The reading guide includes everything from hard science to sci-fi, and provides a broad platform for understanding racial injustice in the context of climate.
You can also check out a new website co-founded by environmentalists Leah Thomas, Diandra Esparza and Sabs Katz, Intersectional Environmentalist. The site provides information from environmentalists in different communities including Latinx and U.S. Indigenous Communities– communities which have also continued to fight oppression and environmental racism. Intersectional Environmentalist provides extensive reading lists to understand all of the intersections of environmental work. Founder Leah Thomas’ writing was recently featured in Vogue, where she links her work in environmental policy to anti-racism.
From September 29th through October 5th, Utah is celebrating the 3rd Annual Utah Climate Week.
Organized by Utah Climate Action Network, Utah Climate Week brings government, non-profits, academic institutions, faith-based organizations, businesses, and individuals together to address the impact of climate change in our communities. Utah Climate Week highlights the importance of collaborative climate action towards long-term resilience.
With workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, and local restaurant participation, Utah Climate Week 2019 emphasizes the impact of climate change on Utah and provides many opportunities to share ideas to address the challenges.
Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!
By Ardyn Ford, SLCgreen intern
Hunger. It is desperate and overpowering. Everyone has experienced it, but for some, it is extreme and long-term. Weeks go by with a deep, gnawing sensation inside, a pain so fierce that it almost feels alive.
This is a reality for more than 1 in 9 Utahns.
Food insecurity occurs when people cannot afford to buy enough food. It has significant impacts on productivity, happiness, and health, and because it impacts low-income families and individuals, it is often accompanied by threats to other basic needs such as shelter and clothing.
We’re in the final two weeks of Utah’s legislative session, which means we’re in for a wild ride full of twists, turns, and surprises until 11:59 pm on March 8.
SB 136: High Fees on Electric Vehicles and Transit Overhaul
SLCgreen and the Mayor’s Office are following many of the air quality-related bills. In particular, as we alerted you to recently, we are concerned about the high proposed registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles in SB0136 (though we support the funding mechanisms for more transit).
There have been a number of changes and attempted substitutions with this bill. Unfortunately, as of February 28, the fees for all-electric vehicles remain at $194/year. The fee structure also imposes changes for hybrid electric ($92/year) and plug-in hybrid vehicles ($124/year). Fees are going up on all vehicles. Standard gasoline vehicles will now pay $72/year.
However, the singling-out of clean vehicles is troubling. For those of us who care about clean air, the proposed EV fees are a significant set-back, especially coming the year after the state tax credit for electric vehicles was also rolled back.
It is rapidly making its way through the session and, as of February 13, will be heard by the full Senate in the coming days, followed by the House of Representatives.
Overall, we support the bill because of the many good things it would do for funding public transit and road improvements. You can read more via the Salt Lake Tribune.
However, the bill also proposes significant increases in the annual vehicle registration fees for all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, which are troubling.
We encourage you to learn about the bill and contact your elected officials if you’re concerned about the high fees proposed on electric vehicles– a stymie to clearing the air– even though the bill offers other positive changes.
For an all-electric vehicle, your annual registration fee would increase from $44 to $194.
For a hybrid, the fee would jump from $44 to $65. For all other vehicles, the fees remain at $44.
It is only electric vehicles that are being targeted for annual increases.Read more
We’re in the middle of Climate Week in Utah! Our events have been a great success so far and we are looking forward to the rest of the week’s activities.
Today we want to focus on what you can do to combat climate change. Of course, national and international policies make a huge difference in how many emissions global society ultimately cuts in the coming years.
Misinformation on climate change is all-too-prevalent. Be informed. Check multiple sources focusing on articles which cite and list scientific studies. Here is a sample of some reputable sites, documentaries, and books:
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and City Council have committed to a Joint Resolution to transition the community to 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2032 and an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2040.
The Mayor and City Councilmember Erin Mendenhall were joined by other City leaders and community members on the steps of the City and County Building today to announce the resolution.
“This is the most ambitious step ever taken by Salt Lake City to address the threat of climate change,” said Mayor Biskupski. “This commitment places the City among leading communities worldwide that acknowledge our responsibility to rapidly reduce emissions and forge a new path forward that protects our economies, societies and overall human well-being.”
Salt Lake City had previously committed to 100 percent renewable electricity sources for its government operations, along with major carbon reductions for City operations, but this resolution expands the scope to include all electricity and emissions on a community scale.
The Joint Resolution cited the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and being driven by the burning of fossil fuels. The Resolution also acknowledged local impacts such as changes in water systems and extreme weather events that are affecting Salt Lake City now and will be exacerbated in the future.
“We can tackle this challenge and deliver clean energy solutions that will simultaneously improve air quality, protect public health and deliver local jobs. Leading on climate change today is an obligation we all share with each other and to future generations,” stated Mayor Biskupski.
Today the American Lung Association released its 17th annual State of the Air report, which ranks the air quality in our nation’s cities and counties. Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem ranked 6th for short-term particulate exposure.
Mayor Biskupski has announced an aggressive air quality platform that aims to drastically reduce pollution through improving energy efficiency in buildings, increasing use of renewable energy like solar, sourcing cleaner vehicles, and creating a robust clean air network focused on advancing clean air legislation.
Join the City of Salt Lake and do your part to reduce pollution!
Take action even on voluntary air days.This is when we have the best chance to keep our air cleaner, longer – especially when we know that an inversion has set up in the valley.
Skip and reduce trips.
Aim to leave your car parked, one more day a week. Modern vehicles emit the vast majority of trip pollution in those first two minutes on the road. Skipping car trips by using public transportation, arranging a carpool or other alternatives make a measurable impact.
On days you must drive, chain your trips together to reduce “cold start” pollution.
Explore Salt Lake City on public transit.Ride UTA can help you plan your next transit adventure.
Weatherize your home, and cash in on Rocky Mountain Power and Questar Adding insulation and upgrading your windows will not only save you money on your utility bills, it will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Upgrade your furnace and water heater. Rebates are available for residents who upgrade their furnace and water heaters. Water heaters are a significant source of NOx emissions and that adds to Utah’s wintertime PM 2.5, problem.
Swap out your lightbulbs to LEDs. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR rating, you can save $75 each year.
Opt for people powered or electric tools for yard work.
Get exercise while doing yard work by using push mowers instead of gas powered lawn mowers. According to the U.S. EPA, a new gas lawn mower produces as many VOCs and NOx emissions in in in one hour as 11 new cars.
Not able to use a push mower or manual tools? Look for electric alternatives to mowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers.
Highlights included a panel discussion on exerting political influence with panelists Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Patrice Arent, Member of the Utah State House of Representatives, and Robert Axson, Central State Director for Senator Mike Lee. Panelists emphasized the importance of building relationships across the political spectrum.
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby lead several informative and inspirational sessions focused around CCL’s mission to create the political will for climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in the exercise of personal and political power.
Another panel discussion titled Broadening our Reach to Under Represented Groups consisted of presentations by Piper Christian, high school student and COP21 attendee, on engaging young people on climate change, Nate Salazar on speaking to the Hispanic population, Dave Christian, Psychologist, on communicating with other political views, and Susan Soleil on Faith Communities and the Moral Imperative for Climate Justice. These panelists encouraged increasing diversity in political involvement by including young people, minorities, and people of faith.
The keynote presentation featured Dr. Rob Davies, physicist, Utah Climate Center, Utah State University speaking on ways to communicate about climate change that resonate with people’s emotions so that they feel motivated to take action. The conference also included an evening performance by The Crossroads Project. This multi-media presentation combined video, classical music by the Fry Street Quartet, and monologue by Rob Davies about climate change science.
On March 18th through the 20th, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) will be putting on their Wild West regional conference in downtown Salt Lake City. This annual event brings together members and welcomes newcomers from the Wild West region (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) to meet and to participate in various in-depth workshops. These sessions will feature panel discussions and training on topics ranging from climate science to advanced communications training that will increase understanding, develop skills, and promote collaborations around common concerns we face in this area. The keynote speaker will be Physicist, Dr. Rob Davies from Utah Climate Center who will discuss how to communicate about climate change in a way that resonates and motivates people to take action. For those new to CCL and interested in getting involved, the conference starts off with a Climate Advocate Training and Group Start Workshop on Saturday to learn about the group’s efforts, goals, and methods.
Panels and events include:
• CCL leaders from each state addressing area-specific issues and strategies used to influence Members of Congress.
• Breakout Sessions on climate and health, a writers workshop, exerting political influence, broadening reach to include under-represented groups, how to use social media effectively.
• A social gathering to meet other members on Friday with live music, drink, and appetizers and a performance on Saturday by The Crossroads Project.
CCL is an advocacy organization dedicated to addressing climate change through national policies. They train and support volunteers to engage elected officials, the media, and the public. Interested in learning how to influence policies or getting involved? Visit the event page for additional details and to register.
Early registration is $65 and is now open until February 19th, registration after the 19th is $75. Registration fee covers all sessions, the Crossroads Project performance, as well as lunch and dinner on Saturday. There is no charge for the newcomer Advocate Training and Group Start Workshop on Saturday. The conference will take place at The Chase Mill at Tracy Aviary (589 E. 1300 S. SLC, UT 84105) and at the Wasatch Retreat and Conference Center at the Episcopal Church.