Talks focus on economic, public health impact on climate change in urban areas
On Thursday, November 19, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) kicked off a national conversation about the economic and public health impacts of climate change in urban areas. These talks were held in Austin, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland and St. Louis, Missouri and highlighted that climate change is a real and growing threat to the Black community. There was also a rally of support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
President Obama’s Clean Power Plan sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, lowering the amount of health problem causing toxins released into the air. The plan has public health and climate benefits worth up to $54 billion per year in 2030.
It provides an opportunity for a healthier environment and economy by helping communities of color save money on electricity bills. By 2030, the Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American’s monthly electricity bill by seven percent and could save up to $45.8 billion on home electricity bills.
Nearly 40 percent of the six million Americans living close to coal-fired power plants are people of color, and are disproportionately African American. The toxins from these plants are responsible for thousands of premature deaths, higher risks of asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases, and hundreds of thousands of missed work and school days. African American businesses are also being excluded from conversations centered on the green economy boom.
“The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. supports every effort to make the Black community economically stronger,” said Ron Busby, Sr., president and CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. “President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and a commitment to a green economy are our future. As former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has been known to say ‘qualified Black businesses must have equal access to government contracts, and our communities must be fluent in green technology.’ And we agree, anything less is a missed opportunity for economic advancement.”
“The Greater Austin Black Chamber is proud to be among the first cities included in this critical national dialogue,” said Tam Hawkins, interim president and CEO, Greater Austin Black Chamber. “Whether we’re talking about a green economy boom, or the health of the Black community, these conversations are long overdue.”
“When we talk about justice for Baltimore’s community, we must include the reversal of environmental racism,” said Lance Lucas, president and CEO, Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce. “Climate change greatly impacts our community’s physical health, which in turns affects the economic vitality of the city.”
“Bringing together the business and faith communities to discuss climate change and the implementation of the President’s Clean Power Plan not only makes sense, it’s essential,” said Christal Watson, president and CEO, Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce. “We proudly stand with the U.S. Black Chambers and with President Obama in the efforts to properly address climate change.”
USBC’s national conversations are part of a much larger effort to engage the African American community on the importance of climate change and its effect on communities of color. Join the conversation using the hashtag #actonclimate.
This information and photos are provided by U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.