EVENT: Women Michigan Leaders Demand Bold Climate Action

Washington, D.C. — Last night, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and on the heels of Senator Kamala Harris’ historic debate performance, Michigan women leaders discussed what’s at stake in the 2020 presidential election for our climate, air, and water, as part of an event that NowThis News and Climate Power 2020 co-hosted.

The event featured Michigan State Senator Stephanie Chang, Michigan Political Director of America Votes Lauren Bealore, Southwest Detroit Community Activist Theresa Landrum, Activist, and Social Impact Consultant Jamira Burley. Versha Sharma, Senior Correspondent, and Managing Editor for NowThis, moderated the event.

During the town hall event, the panelists discussed Senator Harris’ historic vice presidential debate and the intersectionality of climate action, gender bias, and racial justice and how none of these issues can be fully addressed without the other.

Harris made the environment a key focus at the debate, and the panelists commended her strong record fighting for environmental justice and holding polluters accountable.

Central to the discussion were the challenges that women often bear under environmental injustice and how their lived experiences give them the insight to work toward environmental justice. 

For this reason, several participants noted the importance of having women, especially women of color, in positions of power. 

Panelists also called for solutions that include more participation from members of affected communities in government, the business industry, and academia. 

The panelists also discussed climate disasters that still plague Black and Brown communities and how these communities are disproportionately impacted. The impact of the climate crisis has been especially harsh for Black, Brown, and Indigenous individuals who face disproportionate exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals. Scientists have warned that soot pollution disproportionately affects communities of color and can cause cancer, heart disease, and asthma, which kills Black children at 10 times the rate as white children. 

Studies have also shown that Black mothers and their babies are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. One Journal of the American Medical Association-connected study found that Black mothers are nearly two-and-half times more likely to have children with a low birth weight than their white counterparts.

Despite these injustices, the panelists discussed the economic and environmental impacts of bold climate action. Bealore noted that Biden’s plan to transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy would create good-paying jobs in Michigan’s transit and auto industries, building upon Biden’s experience with the auto industry bailout.

All of the panelists remarked that they were hopeful because of women, young people, and community members’ continued commitment to working towards a better future.