Climate Power 2020 Announces Georgia Co-Chairs
Washington, D.C. – Today, Climate Power 2020 announced its Georgia Co-Chairs, a coalition of state leaders and activists who reflect the diverse, grassroots movement needed to ensure 2020 is a defining moment for how our nation addresses the climate crisis.
Director of Black Green Agenda with the New Georgia Project Valerie Rawls, Executive Director at Georgia Conservation Voters Brionté McCorkle, Assistant Professor of Environmental & Health Sciences at Spelman College Dr. Na’Taki Jelks, Sustainable Smyrna board member Natasha Dyer, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Harambee House/Citizens For Environmental Justice Dr. Mildred McClain are partnering with Climate Power 2020 to hold anti-science candidates accountable for embracing anti-science policies that hurt all Georgians.
Nearly 60 percent of Georgians, according to polling from Yale University, are worried about climate change and think President Trump and Congress should do more to address climate change. Yet Trump and his congressional allies are ignoring experts, refusing to believe in science, surrendering our government to big oil executives, and gutting public health protections, all at the expense of future generations.
“To protect Americans and our economy, from the shock of future downturns, we need to invest in clean energy,” said Brionté McCorkle, Executive Director of Georgia Conservation Voters. “I am excited to partner with Climate Power 2020 to push leaders to advocate for a just transition to a clean energy economy, which will provide affordable energy and high-paying jobs, while safeguarding public health, for all folks in Georgia and across the country.”
“The climate crisis disproportionately affects rural and urban Black Americans, and other communities of color, from pollution and its adverse health impacts to extreme heat and flooding. We are building a movement that will create better jobs, health, and livelihoods for Black America,” said Valerie Hill Rawls, Director of the Black + Green Agenda, The New Georgia Project. “I’m excited to join Climate Power 2020 to bring climate justice to the forefront of the election.”
“I know firsthand what it’s like when a loved one falls ill after living near a high-pollution area. Sadly, many Americans – especially from low-income families and communities of color – are exposed to toxicants that are health hazards in their own neighborhoods. “Cancer Alleys” shouldn’t exist,” said Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, an assistant professor at Spelman College. “I’m joining the board of Climate Power 2020 to hold our elected officials accountable and ensure we take real action.”
“We can’t fight climate change without advocating for environmental justice. When vulnerable communities across America disproportionately lack access to clean air and water, it’s a violation of human rights. Dumping toxic pollutants near communities of color and low-income neighborhoods is a practice that needs to end,” said Dr. Mildred McClain, Executive Director of the Harambee House/Citizens For Environmental Justice. “I’m proud to join Climate Power 2020 in calling for change.”
“Communities of color are the most impacted by environmental pollution. As more and more people experience the harmful effects of toxins in our air and water, it’s clear that we need to put an end to environmental injustice. America needs its government to put people over profit. That’s why I’m proud to join Climate Power 2020,” said Natasha Dyer, a Sustainable Smyrna board member.
Climate Power 2020 will focus on Georgia because of its importance to the 2020 election map and the high concentration of individuals living there that data shows are most motivated by climate change political messaging. The majority – 59 percent – of Georgians believe Trump should do more to combat climate change.
Georgians are also living with the impacts of climate change with both periods of intense heat and dangerous flooding on the rise in the state. Six million Georgians live in areas of elevated risk for wildfire and more than 13,000 properties in the state are already at risk from flooding. Since Trump assumed office, Georgia has experienced 13 climate-related disasters that caused $114 billion in damages and economic impacts will continue to add up if leaders don’t take action soon.
With two competitive Senate races and growth in climate-conscious individuals, a small increase in turnout among young or Latino voters could force a conversation on climate change and force anti-science candidates, including President Trump, to defend his failed agenda.
Despite voter suppression efforts in 2018, Latino turnout increased significantly compared to the 2014 cycle and has remained steady during the last two presidential cycles – making this a growing voting population for climate action candidates to energize on climate action.
While youth turnout has fluctuated over the past four cycles in Georgia, a small increase in turnout in 2018 among the 2.2 million eligible voters under the age of 35 brought an additional 400,000 young Georgians to the polls. The hotly-contested 2018 gubernatorial race was decided by less than 55,000 votes.
The state co-chairs join an already formidable collection of Advisory Board members, including Founder of Fair Fight and the Southern Economic Advancement Project Stacey Abrams, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Co-Author of the Green New Deal, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Founder/CEO, Ocean Collectiv, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Climate Strike Partnerships Coordinator at the Future Coalition and co-founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council Thomas Lopez, Former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Former Senator Harry Reid, Former Investor, Philanthropist, and Founder of NextGen America Tom Steyer, Varshini Prakash, Executive Director, and Co-Founder, Sunrise Movement, and Jamal Raad, Co-founder and Campaign Director, Evergreen Action, among others.