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 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.
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
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.
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. These included a community conversation with Rep. Rashida Tlaib in the Highland Park area of Detroit, a Grist-hosted online conversation on What the Green New Deal means for communities of color, a plenary titled “Centering Indigenous Peoples & Frontline Communities in Local to Federal Climate Policy” in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a townhall meeting with frontline leaders and Rep. Ayanna Pressley focused on black women leading in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston, a community dialogue on Energy Democracy and the Green New Deal in Los Angeles, a discussion in New York City on how local leadership results in national impact, the event “Gulf South for a Green New Deal” in New Orleans, a mass meeting and community dinner on what a Green New Deal could mean for Kentucky, and other events that pushed for policy development and organizing that is inclusive and advances long-existing work towards climate, racial and economic justice from the local level up.