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Van Jones: 'When You Cut Carbon, You Should Cut Poverty Too'

Climate
Van Jones: 'When You Cut Carbon, You Should Cut Poverty Too'

Van Jones is no mere mortal when it comes to fighting for climate change and social justice. He's got a staggering list of accomplishments for a man that is not quite at that midlife mark. From working with Presidents Bush and Obama (and getting a recent shoutout from Obama) to starting many organizations like Green For All that are working to expedite renewable energy as well as bringing awareness to civil rights and social issues. Most importantly, Jones is brilliant at tying it all together in a way that makes sense and ensures that everyone is included in the process.

In my recent interview, he applauded President Obama's Clean Power Plan and the many ways it can help advance renewable energy and boost the economy through new infrastructure development.

We talked about how those of lower income tend to be disproportionately impacted by pollution, and how manufacturers in this country have to step up and take some responsibility for their carbon output.

Jones says in the interview, "If you paid a $25 fine for littering, you've just paid more than any big polluter in the United States has ever had to pay at the federal level for dumping out mega-tons of carbon."

Listen to this special Green Divas feature interview with Van Jones:

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By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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