The United States has long stood alone in the global landscape in lacking comprehensive national climate legislation. Finally, we are beginning to see a resurgence of Congressional leaders as well as electoral candidates putting forward climate plans at all levels – buoyed by the unwavering and courageous leadership from environmental justice leaders, youth, and grassroots feminists who pushed the needle toward progress for decades. As feminist climate activists, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our movement allies in determining where we can move these plans next, and are committed to strengthening this work together.
As a rapid response, we are putting forth a topline analysis of where these types of national plans could be could be strengthened in order to adequately meet this moment of intersecting crises. We’re eager to be in conversation and reflection over what this analysis covers and where it must expand. So – where could these plans be pushed toward a more feminist vision of climate justice?
A clean energy economy must invest in care as well as construction.
- Policy approaches to economic stimulus and the “job creation” often emphasize construction, trade workers, and engineers as the key actors towards “greening” or decarbonizing our economy. This overlooks the reality that many low-carbon jobs already exist, and could expand, in one of the most under-resourced and demanded industries: that of care work. Child care, elder care, community, educational, health and disability related care services are currently expensive and inaccessible for many in need. These positions are also overwhelmingly filled by women, especially women of color.
- Compared to the fossil fuel, aviation, and construction bailouts and federal assistance being distributed right now, the care industry has benefitted from little federal support, assistance or funding – before the pandemic and during, when its essential nature was clearer than ever – and its workers are unsupported.
- Additionally, evidence has shown that when “job creation” efforts focus on infrastructure sectors like construction, and not in other spaces, men’s employment numbers grow while women’s shrink, affecting long term gendered wealth and wage gaps.
- Care jobs may encompass health care, education, social workers and more. With a holistic policy approach, funding these jobs and services should not be seen as separate to climate policy– rather, they are essential to achieving climate justice and good paying jobs for all.
Divestments must accompany investments.
- While the size and scope of the investments articulated are worthy of praise, and any shot at true justice, particularly for communities that have been systemically disinvested from, must start with massive federal investment, this must go hand in hand with demands for disinvestment and divestment.
- This must be part of a broader governing strategy that divests from extractive, harmful, violent industries, and invests in reparative, people-centered ones. This is not just about creating additive fiscal space for investments in communities and low-carbon industries, but also denying fiscal space and government assistance to the private sector actors who have wreaked havoc and violence.
- Critical disinvestment targets include:
- Fossil fuel infrastructure, which cannot possibly co-exist in the energy transition articulated by these plans.
- Police and the military industrial complex: not only are these two industries massive polluters themselves, but continuing to invest in their existence stymies necessary financial flows that should be oriented toward social protections that actually build climate resilience and human security.
Any domestic US climate policy will perpetuate inequality if it does not center global justice.
- We are guided here by the principle articulated in the Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal collective, that we must “Recognize that there is no such thing as domestic climate policy.”
- International cooperation is not merely a strategy to achieve global policy synergy; it is a matter of obligation and historical responsibility. The US has a historical debt to the people suffering first and worst around the world from climate disasters, and climate reparations and financing cannot be an afterthought. If the US is nationalistic in our economy’s transition, it will surely be on the backs of workers and women in the global south.
- All of the valuable articulations around clean energy infrastructure must ensure the pursuit of a just and fair global tax architecture that provides corporate accountability, as well as ensures that trade agreements include strong non-US worker protections, respect Indigenous sovereignty, adopt the polluters pay principle and reject fueling an extractivist economy that continues to colonize the Global South for US industrialization.
We believe we need a united climate justice movement that pushes our political leadership toward the commitments and priorities necessary to end inequality, choose people over profit and communities over corporations. We are, and always have been, committed to joining with our feminist partners and allies across movements to ensure we have a powerful coalition and intersectional analysis at all levels of local, federal and global policy. In knowing that this analysis is a rapid response and is incomplete, we are accountable to our US-based partners in the Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal and our global partners in climate justice collectives, the Women and Gender Constituency, the Women’s Major Group, and the Feminist COVID Response Collective, in regrouping to reflect upon and revise this and future analyses. We welcome these shifts in political possibilities in the US and look forward to continuing to strengthen the policy articulations of our collective visions, together.
As a 501c3, WEDO does not support or endorse any particular candidate or political platform.