of the Climate Justice Alliance
The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) formed in 2013 to create a new center of gravity in the climate movement by uniting frontline communities, organizations, and networks into a formidable force. Our translocal organizing strategy and mobilizing capacity is building a Just Transition, away from extractive systems of production, consumption and political oppression, and towards resilient, regenerative and equitable economies. We believe that the process of transition must place race, gender, class and processes for decolonization and systems change at the center of the solutions equation in order to make it a truly Just Transition.
Our roots are embedded across the environmental justice movement landscape of Turtle Island (North America), 500+ years of struggle against settler colonialism, and the vision, values and principles formulated and raised up by grassroots climate justice leaders, such as the 1991 Principles of Environmental Justice, and the 1996 Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing. Read more
Detroit, Michigan – After over three years of meetings as a climate justice “alignment process”, our growing grassroots movement family formally agreed to adopting the name Climate Justice Alliance. CJA membership consisted primarily of frontline communities confronting the direct consequences of extractive, polluting industries. Supported by networks, alliances, and movement support groups, the Our Power Campaign was established to serve as a way to engage a broad base of frontline community leadership, and align our efforts in organizing a Just Transition away from the global “dig, burn, drive, dump economy”, towards a vision of many local, living, caring and sharing economies.
In the Fall of 2013, CJA penned an open letter from our members and allied EJ group to the leadership of the AFL-CIO, asking the labor movement to join hands with is in our struggle for climate justice, fighting corporate power, deepening democracy, organizing a Just Transition and building a new economy led by workers and communities. CJA Letter to AFL-CIO Convention
Detroit, Michigan – East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) hosted 130+ people, the majority under 25-years in age, at the Our Power Youth Gathering in Detroit. Read more.
New York City – CJA mobilized our members and grassroots allies across the U.S. to lead the frontlines of the 400,000-strong Peoples’ Climate March in New York City. This historic event was originally proposed by CJA members to coincide with the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples and the Ban Ki Moon International Climate Summit, and was co-organized with UPROSE, NYC EJ Alliance, Ironbound Community Corporation, IEN, GAIA and GGJ as well as a number of allied national green groups and labor unions. The PCM marked a shift in the national U.S. climate movement, in centering the leadership of Indigenous communities, communities of color, and working-class white communities who are both at the “Frontlines of the Crises and the Forefront of Change”.
On the two days following the People’s Climate March, CJA hosted the People’s Climate Justice Summit & Tribunal across the street from the United Nations, where the “official” UN Climate Summit was taking place. Over 50 CJA members and allies, including local frontline community leaders, farmers, coal miners, and Indigenous representatives from around the world provided public testimony on the importance of place-based, frontline community leadership in tackling climate change. The event was livestreamed, with at least 150 viewers watching at all times. Hundreds of people passed through the People’s Climate Summit, which provided a respite for “official” delegates, to relax and learn from grassroots movement leaders.
CJA supports a mass direct action coordinated by our members in Rising Tide, Ruckus and a number of allied collectives. The aim is to pivot attention from the PCM march to the root cause culprits of the climate crises – the financial empires whose profits drive both global warming and the colonial extractive economy. Targeting the Wall Street, the strategic goal of the action was to flood “Wall Street” with human bodies and directly impact the frontlines of financialization of life, while expressing solidarity with the frontline communities impacted by real floods, storms, fires and droughts around the world, as well as the frontlines of the struggle against the colonial extractive economy.
Jackson, MS – In developing strategy to move resources from the extractive economy toward regenerative local economies, CJA members convened a series of conversations in 2014 fostering relationships between student divestment campaigners with grassroots organizing groups and folks building non-extractive financing/economic democracy infrastructure. In 2015, CJA members and allies convened a broader set of folks to strategize the work in the form of a financial cooperative and campaigns to reinvest in non-extractive financing. This was the beginning CJA’s Reinvest in Our Power (RiOP) work. Find out more about RiOP here.
To build a rooted foundation for our vision of a Just Transition, CJA identified seven pilot sites to strategize and grapple with what it means to make Just Transition real on the ground. The pilot sites were anchored by long-standing EJ organizations, including APEN & CBE (Richmond, CA), EMEAC (Detroit, MI), Cooperation Jackson (Jackson, MS), BMWC (Black Mesa, AZ), KFTC (Eastern Kentucky), SWU (San Antonio, TX), and PODER (San Francisco, CA). CJA held four convenings over two years where frontline organizers shared lessons, discussed strategies and challenges, and laid the foundation for a set of Just Transition Principles and curriculum tools.
Millerton, NY – Primarily organized by The Working World and supported by CJA and others, the first peer network training was held at Watershed Center to establish a cooperative of local non-extractive loan funds. This was the birth of The Financial Cooperative to share learnings, share services, and share capital towards economic democracy.
Paris, France – Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance and the Indigenous Environmental Network brought 100+ grassroots organizers from the US and Canada to Paris for the UNFCCC COP21. Through the course of a week, the It Takes Roots delegation participated in a series of actions and forums to bring a frontline presence to the global negotiations and build solidarity with international allies. Check out one of the highlights here.
On Martin Luther King Day, CJA organized the first environmental justice action targeting all 10 regional Environmental Protection Agency offices in one day. CJA members and allies drafted the Our Power Plan in order to challenge and improve the Clean Power Plan (CPP) launched by the Obama administration. On the day of action, frontline leaders converged on the offices to present the Our Power Plan to their regional representatives and demand that it be used to improve provisions and implementation of the CPP. For photos of the members and allies in action, click here.
St. Louis, MO – 130+ representatives from more than 50 CJA member and ally organizations attended the CJA National Convening in St. Louis, MO, hosted by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. The convening focused on four tracks of work: Building the Bigger We, Reinvest in Our Power, Resourcing a Just Transition, and Making Just Transition Real on the Ground. Members approved the implementation of CJA’s 4-Year Strategy and held a powerful action at the doors of Peabody Energy.
CJA worked with the Indigenous Environmental Network to send support to Standing Rock in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. In September, a small delegation, including staff and members of PODER and Movement Generation, went to the camp to help and scout out the scene for bigger delegations. During the week of Thankstaking, a larger delegation of more than 100 people from 20 organizations affiliated with CJA and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance traveled to Standing Rock to participate in multiple actions, build with organizers on the ground, and help out with the day-to-day functioning of the camp. Check out these reflections on the delegation to Standing Rock.
In January, Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City Alliance came together under the banner of It Takes Roots (ITR) to hold strategic meetings and trainings and to mobilize against the new Trump administration.
Washington, DC – thousands of people took to the street for the second ever People’s Climate March. The effort was organized by the coalition formed from the 2014 People’s Climate March, which brought over 400,000 people to the streets of New York City and many more around the world. Read more.
Leading up to the People’s Climate March on April 29, It Takes Roots alliances organized translocal actions and another large, multiracial delegation to go to DC. The DC delegation hosted a variety of events to engage members, including congressional visits, a People’s Congress, trainings, a Red Line action, and participation in the frontlines of the People’s Climate March. Watch the videos from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the It Takes Roots Delegation to Washington, DC
After 18 months of discussions and feedback from the pilot site organizations, steering committee, and full membership body, while building from the deep history and experiences from the Just Transition Alliance, CJA released a shared set of Just Transition Principles. Understanding that Just Transition will look different in different places, we believe a core set of shared principles will strengthen our collective work.
While organizing for PCM events, ITR also worked concurrently as part of Beyond the Moment to support translocal actions for May Day. May Day marches in Detroit, Rhode Island, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco rocked the It Takes Roots banner.
Brooklyn, NY – More than 500 young people from around the country met in New York City to attend the 6th Climate Justice Youth Summit, hosted in Brooklyn by UPROSE. They shared their stories and built relationships with other young people from frontline impacted communities.
Detroit, Michigan – More than 45 CJA members from 17 groups gathered to discuss effective and sustainable ways of funding a Just Transition. During the gathering, participants unpacked our relationship to money and debt, laid out a framework for how non-extractive finance fits into our just transition strategies, and learned nuts and bolts tools for building economically sustainable just transition projects.
Houston, Texas – In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, CJA mobilized to raise money in support of our member group t.e.j.a.s., the first EJ organization in Houston. After the hurricane, t.e.j.a.s. was on the frontlines, providing support to the most impacted communities in Houston.
#OurPowerPR is an ongoing translocal campaign pushing for a resilient recovery for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The long-term goal is to provide Puerto Rico with resilient tools so its people don’t rebuild on pollution, debt, dependence, and crumbling infrastructure, but rather, bounce forward to environmental justice, economic democracy, self-determination, and climate resilience. Visit the Our Power Puerto Rico page.
The Indigenous Environmental Network and the Climate Justice Alliance effectively change the conversation around carbon pricing, with the launch of the report Carbon Pricing: A Critical Perspective for Community Resistance at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Carbon market systems will not mitigate climate change, will not advance adaptation strategies, will not serve the most vulnerable communities facing climate change impacts and only protect the fossil fuel industry and corporations from taking real climate action. Read more.
San Antonio, Texas – Over 30 organizers from 11 Our Power Communities gathering at the home of the Southwest Workers Union, to engage in a 4-day Training, Skill-share and Strategy discussion to advance the Building Out Our Power Communities strategy for organizing a Just Transition on the ground. New organizers with various OPCs and new Regional JT organizing hubs, were able to build relationships, deepen their understanding of the transformative and intersectional stories and strategies for systemic change, and share in practical skills for popular education and community organizing. We were able to meet and stand in solidarity with local anti-gentrification and housing rights activists in San Antonio, and learn of the rich history of movement building from our SWU family, who celebrated their 30 year anniversary in 2018.
On May 9-11, 2018, CJA held our second Just Transition Finance Training at the Voluntown Peace Trust near Providence, Rhode Island. 38 people representing 18 CJA member organizations and staff spent three days grappling with the question of how to concretely finance, support and build the local economies we need for our communities and for our planet.
The It Takes Roots Alliance, representing 150 organizations nationwide, joined together with the Ruckus Society at Wildseed Farm in Millerton, New York to train nearly one hundred leaders, organizers and community members – many from disaster impacted areas such as Puerto Rico, Houston and Northern California – in direct action, climate disaster survival skills, and community resilience. Check out videos from the camp, camp photos and images from the climbing training.
From December of 2017 to the Summer of 2018, CJA members and staff worked to create the Our Power Loan Fund and Incubator. In August of 2018, the loan fund began working with a few CJA member’s just transition projects to support with technical assistance and possible non-extractive financing, with support from the national Financial Cooperative that CJA helped to form.
In September 2018, the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City Alliance, which together form the It Takes Roots Coalition gathered in Occupied Ohlone Territory – the San Francisco Bay Area – for the Solidarity to Solutions (#Sol2Sol) Week!
The goals were first- to challenge and expose Governor Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) for being nothing more than a trade show, not a venue providing real solutions to address the intersecting crises, and second- to create space to strengthen our multi-racial, multi-issue, intergenerational movements through strategy exchange, relationship-building, and creative solutions. We ensured that climate profiteers knew that our future cannot be traded. Visit the Sol2Sol webpage for more information.
Thousands of families and communities in North Carolina are reeling from the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Florence. As those hardest hit by the storm are dealing with threats to their immediate and long-term survival, the CJA member group North Carolina Climate Justice Collective partners with frontline communities across the state for a Just Recovery, which requires systemic transformation that centers community well-being, environmental justice and long term resilience.
Detroit, Michigan – The East Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Climate Justice Alliance teamed up for the Black 2 Just Transition Assembly & Training, that brought together 60+ organizers and centered the lessons, principles and practices of Black Liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, healing, environmental justice and other allied struggles for decolonization.
Katowice, Poland – Heads of state and international leaders met in December 2018 for COP24, the UN climate-change talks. The Climate Justice Alliance was on the ground as well, together with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Grassroots Global Justice, the Just Transition Alliance, and Via Campesina, as part of the It Takes Roots North American Frontline delegation.
After intervening in the discussions about the Green New Deal proposal with the statement A Green New Deal Must Be Rooted in a Just Transition for Workers and Communities Most Impacted by Climate Change, CJA followed up in January 2019 with a frontline delegation that shared our vision for a Just Transition and the Green New Deal with members of Congress. Watch videos from the delegation on Capitol Hill.
Visit our website about CJA and the Green New Deal.
The 3rd CJA Member Convening with the theme Living Our Power, was hosted by CJA member group SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP). The convening intricately weaved together cultural organizing, transformative healing, deep relationship building, and honoring the leadership of communities of color and Indigenous Peoples in Environmental and Climate Justice, while simultaneously practicing self-governance and advancing strategy development of the alliance. Check out photos from the convening and the live stream video from the plenary: “Centering Indigenous Peoples & Frontline Communities in Local to Federal Climate Policy.”
Based on our understanding that impacted communities build power through organizing and that visionary policy solutions develop and evolve in response to the demands from organized communities, frontline CJA member groups sponsored local climate policy events across the country.
Occidental, California – This training, hosted by the Reinvest in Our Power Workgroup of CJA, took place from May 16-19, 2019 at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center in California, which is the territory of the Pomo and Coast Miwok (Federated Tribes of the Graton Rancheria). CJA members shared strategies and ideas, and took part in an orientation and exploration into the work of how we can finance our visionary Just Transition projects in a way that confronts capitalism and intervenes in the very nature of finance.
At the beginning of the 2019 hurricane season, we released the Our Power Puerto Rico report, Moving Toward a Just Recovery: A Frontline Solution. In addition to firsthand accounts from the OurPowerPR International Solidarity Brigade to the islands of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the report includes a Just Recovery Framework, our rapid response toolkit and emergency response protocol for organizations engaged in Just Recovery, our civic engagement toolkit and more. Watch this webinar for more information.
CJA members were among an estimated half a million Puerto Ricans, who took to the streets, demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello, and the alliance stood with them. Together, we are fighting for systemic change that will address the root causes of the democratic, economic and colonial crises still faced by the majority, nearly two years after Hurricane Maria.
64 organizations came together in Detroit for the Frontline Green New Deal (GND)+ Climate and Regenerative Economic Policy Summit. This powerful gathering build political power for the frontlines for 2020 and beyond. Click here for photos from the summit.
CJA member groups in Detroit, Michigan where 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates took place, used the national attention to bring Climate Justice and frontline community solutions into the public discourse. Frontline community activists in Detroit staged a rally and a march, and called on the candidates to visit Detroit, MI 48217, the most polluted ZIP code of Michigan.
Brooklyn, NY – More than 200 young people from throughout the US, Puerto Rico and Guam participated in the 7th Annual Climate Justice Youth Summit, the largest gathering of youth of color on climate change in the US! The inspiring summit, organized by UPROSE, brought together young leaders to eat, commune, organize and strategize to imagine and learn from each other. Take a look at the media coverage that the summit generated, and check out the photos from Day 1 and Day 2.
CJA Workgroup leads, Steering Committee members and staff joined 50 social justice activists from across the United States and Puerto Rico in Havana, Cuba for the It Takes Roots delegation to the Continental Convergence for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism.
We built deeper relationships, to affirm the principles of solidarity and grassroots internationalism, and to continue to fight for a systemic transformation against capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism and racism.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) launch the Carbon Pricing Toolkit Volume 2, just ahead of COP 25 in Madrid, Spain. Carbon Pricing: Popular Education Toolkit for Community Resistance is for every group and community organizing for climate justice, resisting the false solutions of carbon pricing. This project began side-by-side with the publication, Carbon Pricing: A Critical Perspective for Community Resistance, which was published in 2017. Learn more.
The UN Climate Negotiations (COP25) were supposed to take place in Chile, but in an effort to divert attention away from the popular uprising against the neoliberal system in Chile, and to hide the brutal police repression, COP25 was moved to Spain.
We traveled to Madrid, Spain, to disrupt the entrenchment of a global carbon market regime, and to push back against geoengineering. We continued to build Just Transition efforts and strategized around a Frontline Green New Deal. We also traveled to Chile in support of the uprising and to attend the Cumbre de los Pueblos. More info.
Four CJA Fellows are joining our team for 2020, strengthening capacity for the Frontlines: Youth Articulation Organizing Fellow Inkza Angeles, based in San Francisco with People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Justice (PODER), Just Transition Policy & Curriculum Fellow Moñeka De Oro, based in Guam with the Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, Digital Organizing Fellow Kristen Jeré, based in Chicago, IL with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), and Frontline Solutions Storytelling Fellow Keenan Rhodes, based in Indianapolis, IN with the Kheprw Institute. The fellows joined other CJA members and staff in DC for a training with the Center for Story-based Strategy, to learn about storytelling and social change strategy for our current context.
The inaugural episode, hosted by youth organizer and artist, Keenan Rhodes of the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis, features CJA member organizations, creators and the frontline communities spotlighted in our Story Snapshots project.
Stories from Home: Living the Just Transition is available on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Spotify.
CJA kicks off the Story Snapshots project, inviting viewers into the homes and hearts of CJA communities. Through art, culture and community we take a deep dive into what climate justice looks, feels and sounds like to everyday people making Just Transition real on the ground. The Story Snapshots from the first cohort of creatives includes the Indigenous Environmental Network (global), Micronesia Climate Change Alliance (Guam), Southwest Organizing Project (Albuquerque, NM), and GreenRoots (Boston, MA).
While Trump erroneously predicted that a “miracle” would sweep the Coronavirus virus away, and disregarded expert advice and scientific evidence, frontline groups started to get ready for the brewing pandemic. Our movement had prepared us for this moment. For centuries we have been building alternative economies, local resiliency, and mutual aid networks to deal with the interwoven crises of economic, racial, social, and climate injustice. CJA provided support that put resources directly into the hands of those impacted. We supported member to member dialogue and support networks, developed a dashboard for information sharing, and hosted skills-shares and trainings. CJA released a statement and helped to lead a huge coalition of progressive groups and lawmakers, to pressure Congress to protect families, communities and workers.
Art by Ricardo Levins Morales
One of the largest uprisings in U.S. history was ignited by the brutal state-sanctioned police murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many others. Led by Black working class people and leftist organizers, half a million people turned out on June 6 in nearly 550 places across the United States. The CJA Black Caucus Power Gathering on June 10, 2020 outlined demands and policies that provide concrete solutions. Climate Justice Alliance member organizations organized in defense of Black lives and amplified the call for the defunding of police on Juneteenth and beyond.
As part of the United Frontline Tabel, Climate Justice Alliance co-released A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy, which offers community groups, policy advocates, and policymakers a pathway to solutions that work for frontline communities and workers.
You down with OPC?! (Yeah you know me)
In 2020, CJA expanded the Our Power Communities to include more than 30 groups that are anchoring a Just Transition in their communities. At the virtual Grassroots Gathering, we strengthened relationships as well as regional infrastructure within the alliance, which is being led and coordinated by our frontline, base-building members. The OPCs are working together to create plans that include coordinated and aligned organizing, electoral, communications, direct action and policy advocacy strategies within their regions and CJA.
Three young climate justice activists took over the CJA Instagram account. The takeovers were done by 14-year-old Chioh, who has been involved in media work with CJA member group KHEPRW in Indiana, Chamoru/Taotao Tåno youth climate activist, yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and indigenous land and water protector Franceska from the Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, and Inkza, indigenous youth organizer, frontline land and life defender, and artist, who is part of PODER in San Francisco.
Over the last two years, CJA has been working with allies around the world – especially the international ETC group – to keep tabs on developments in the area of geoengineering (flashy ideas to maintain the status quo of the extractive economy). Dangerous experiments are already underway, with potentially dire consequences for the earth. Climate Justice Alliance created a series of fact sheets that cover the basic information on geoengineering.
CJA members in the northeast region, along with their state partners successfully blocked the incorporation of the majority of northeast states into the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) cap and trade scheme. After trying to engage with TCI for years, laying out Climate Justice Equity Principles for the TCI, participating in meetings and webinars, CJA decided in October 2020 to call on states to step back from the TCI and to instead work directly with frontline Environmental Justice communities to address local emissions and pollution. Read the New York Times article about TCI’s start.
From the Democratic Primaries to the first 100 Days of the Biden/ Harris Administration, Climate Justice Alliance members (from Detroit, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Indian Country and throughout the US), made their mark on the 2020 elections by centering frontline community solutions. CJA members hosted candidate forums, organized rallies and direct actions, engaged with community groups and lawmakers on new policies, and developed visionary projects from Brooklyn’s Sunset Park to New Jersey. Together with a broad range of allies, we launched new formations such as the People’s Bailout, the United Frontline Table, Build Back Fossil Free, and the Green New Deal Network to win bold executive orders, push back on bad cabinet choices, and lay the groundwork for real solutions to the interlinked economic, democratic and climate crises.
40+ states from Texas to Oregon were hit by an extreme winter storm, causing power and water outages in a system that is unprepared for the effects of climate change. Once again, Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian and other frontline communities were hit the hardest, while already reeling from COVID-19, job loss, and evictions, among other challenges. Climate Justice Alliance members called for Energy Democracy and Just Recovery.
Climate Justice Alliance, Movement Generation and New Economy Coalition released the Creative Wildfire Manifesto and a call to creatives, artists, and cultural workers to spark the collective imagination. Cultural workers have an important role in strategizing, visioning, creating the Just Transition. Our work is to change the narrative, amplify transformative frameworks from OUR communities, and inspire others to resist a return to normal by reinvesting in community power. Visit the Creative Wildfire website to view the 14 projects that were created by 21 artists.
Our new dynamic leaders will support our members in this critical phase of the struggle for climate justice!
The 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference took place in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, and CJA member groups, who were on the ground as part of the It Takes Roots Frontline Delegation, engaged in strategic actions inside and outside. The Glasgow Climate Pact that came out of COP26 is shameful. Once again the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) demonstrated that their interests lie heavily with economic bottom lines rather than in a true commitment to tackling the climate crisis. Read the It Takes Roots statement on the COP26 decisions, check out some of the social media posts about COP26.