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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

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A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis visit the National Renewable Energy Lab on Aug. 1, 2019. National Renewable Energy Lab
House Democrats are releasing an aggressive new plan to fight the climate crisis on Tuesday. The 538-page plan includes various goals to dramatically reduce the nation's emissions. It sets a target for every new car sold by 2035 to emit no greenhouse gases, to eliminate overall emissions from the power sector by 2040, and to all but eliminate the country's total emissions by 2050, according to The New York Times.
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Demonstrators march down Pennsylvania Avenue near the Trump International Hotel during a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd on June 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

This year has brought us some brutal lessons so far, chief among them the fact that systemic racism drives or amplifies nearly all our societal and environmental ills.

Now is the time to listen to the people affected most by those problems of environmental justice and racism — and the activists working to solve them.

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A house in "Cancer Alley," which stretches from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a dense concentration of oil refineries, petrochemical plants and other chemical industries reside alongside suburban homes. Giles Clarke / Getty Images

By Kristoffer Tigue

In many ways, Maleta Kimmons defines her neighborhood by what it lacks.

Several houses near her home remain vacant. Last week, she had to drive seven miles just to buy groceries. And two weeks ago, at the height of the Minneapolis protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer on May 25, looters broke into the only pharmacy in the area, forcing the store to close and leaving many in the neighborhood without easy access to life-saving medication like insulin or inhalers for asthma.

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View from roof on Fulton street painted huge Black Lives Matter slogan during unveiling ceremony in Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The completed mural stretches from Marcy Avenue to New York Avenue for 375 feet. Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

Climate movement, we have a problem.

We've been marching and speaking out demanding justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other victims of white supremacy.

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Freed slaves harvest land for their own profit on the former plantation of Confederate General Thomas Drayton. ©Corbis / Getty Images

By Julian Agyeman and Kofi Boone

Underlying the recent unrest sweeping U.S. cities over police brutality is a fundamental inequity in wealth, land and power that has circumscribed black lives since the end of slavery in the U.S.

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New research adds to the growing evidence that African American communities are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. electravk / Moment / Getty Images

The evidence is in and it's bleak. More than a decade of research and a robust review of studies found that as air pollution and heat increases so do adverse outcomes in pregnancy, according to a new investigation, as The Guardian reported.

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People protest the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Warrick Page / Getty Images

By Rachel Ramirez

"I can't breathe." These were among the final words that George Floyd and Eric Garner gasped before their deaths at the hands of white police officers. That plea has become part of the current rallying cry for racial justice and an end to police brutality in the U.S. But for black people living near industrial facilities, the phrase has an additional layer of meaning: a reminder of their disproportionate pollution burden.

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Co-founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice Peggy Shepard attends New Yorkers For Clean Power Campaign Launch at Solar 1 on May 2, 2016 in New York City. Roy Rochlin / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

In recent weeks, our nation has been forced to come to grips with the variety of ways in which inequality harms minority communities, from the death of George Floyd at the hands of police to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19. A recent Harvard study concluded that air pollution — which is typically worse in areas with larger minority populations — is linked to higher coronavirus death rates, along with a slew of other health problems.

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Anti-racism protests in Brooklyn, New York. Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images

In the wake of nationwide protests sparked by police and vigilante murders of African Americans, as well as a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black and Hispanic communities, cities, counties and states across the country are moving to declare racism a public health emergency.

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