Contact: Olivia Burlingame firstname.lastname@example.org
Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) strongly opposes market based approaches to the climate crisis such as Cap and Trade. These false “solutions” are essentially revenue schemes for big business and will only serve to continue the cycle of historical harm our communities have faced for centuries at the hands of extractive industry. We cannot rely on those who created the climate crisis to solve it.
With more than 70 frontline, base-building, movement, and supporting network organizations throughout Turtle Island, otherwise known as the United States and including Guam and Puerto Rico, CJA members know far too well the devastation that these market-based policies can have on communities.
Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network explained, “Carbon trading mechanisms, such as cap and trade, utilize carbon offsets and carbon credits that have nothing to do with the reduction of emissions at source. They make climate change worse. Studies have shown these market regimes let greenhouse gas emissions increase. They are false and fake solutions to climate change that result in being a smokescreen for polluters to pollute more. Track the money. It is not public money, it is money from the polluters using the forests as carbon sponges, greenwashing their business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels. Mother Earth is the source of life which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as natural capital.”
No amendments or techno-fixes can correct for the flawed and fundamental basis that Cap and Trade relies on: providing massive polluters with the power to decide where and how to reduce emissions. They can continue polluting via offset as long as emissions are claimed to be cut someplace else, even if those cuts can’t be verified. This policy allows them to continue to pollute and harm low-income Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
The fact that the majority of the most harmful industries, refineries, and power plants are typically located in BIPOC communities means that frontline communities will continue to pay the price for dirty energy and market based approaches, while wealthier and whiter communities will reap the benefits of the “green” economy.
Frontline communities that have been living under Cap and Trade schemes for some time have confirmed that the program really is not working. More information about California’s Cap and Trade program is available here.
Over the last few years, CJA members in California joined together with grassroots communities and coalitions to heroically fight back against Cap and Trade. But the cost of this devastating experiment continues to be carried by those hit first and worst by the climate crisis. We don’t need a repeat. According to Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network in California, “Exporting the California Cap and Trade model to other states would be an injustice to BIPOC communities. It would serve to export a system that we know maintains environmental justice communities as expendable and does not work to reduce carbon emissions. We’ve already been paying the price in California of a policy conceived of and fought for by Big Oil and industrial polluters. It is time to learn from, not promote, California’s mistakes.”
CJA stands firmly with our members Got Green, Community to Community Development and the local Front and Centered Coalition in Washington state, who are currently exercising their right to challenge legislation that would harm their communities, especially environmental justice communities. The time for unproven techno-fixes and schemes that continue to subsidize the fossil fuel and gas industries is over. We must learn from the experiences of our communities, and put forward solutions that reduce local emissions and pollution at source, not programs that disregard disparities in and perpetuate the destructive practice of sacrifice zones, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.