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A Climate Town Hall – Questions for Candidates

Graphic with three solidarity fists that reads #FemClimateTownHall

As we hear from 2020 US presidential candidates about their climate policies, the evidence of climate breakdown is mounting.

As fires rage in the Amazon and Hurricane Dorian batters the Bahamas, US policies continue to endanger people and our planet. Recently, Trump announced decisions to open the world’s largest temperate rainforest in Alaska to logging and mining and roll back regulations on methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas.

Meanwhile, women climate defenders worldwide are organizing to protect their land and communities. Indigenous women in the Amazon are fighting back against the policies that threaten their communities and the environment. Rural women farmers in Sudan are organizing into unions to sustain each other through drought and advocate for just climate policies.

Policymakers have the chance to learn from these women’s solutions and create climate policy that transforms our society into one grounded in peace, sustainability, and justice.

As you evaluate candidates' climate policy proposals, here are a few questions that don’t get asked enough.

How will you ensure that your climate policies promote gender justice?

Climate change deepens existing inequalities and intersects with gender discrimination to make some — women, girls, gender nonconforming and LGBTIQ peoplemore vulnerable to its impacts. Women and girls are more likely to be killed or displaced by climate disasters; up to 80% of those fleeing the impacts of climate change are women. And they will be affected differently by the policies we create to address climate crisis – like green jobs, for instance, which tend to concentrate in industries with historically low participation of women. Yet, most proposed climate policies don’t consider these gender impacts. Climate policies should be evaluated to measure and address their impacts based on gender, as well as sexuality, race, class, disability and other identities.

Given the US’s role in worsening climate change, how would you address the US’s debt to frontline communities and those in the Global South facing its most devastating impacts?

Historically, the US has been the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Now, the effects of climate breakdown, including worsening droughts, floods, and hurricanes, are hitting women and girls in frontline communities and in the Global South the hardest. Rather than providing aid, Trump ended US investment in the Green Climate Fund and cut other climate funding in half. This is a matter of global justice – and the US owes a debt to these communities that it must redress.

Will you call for measures that confront US militarism, a driver of climate breakdown?

The US military is the world’s largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases. It destabilizes communities and launches wars to seize and control oil and gas reserves around the world. But “greening the military” by cutting its carbon emissions is a false solution that allows devastating military operations worldwide to go unchecked. We need to fundamentally challenge US militarism, with its more than 800 carbon-emitting military bases in over 70 countries around the world, and dedicate resources to help impacted communities.

Will your policies welcome and support those forced to migrate by climate breakdown?

As climate change exacerbates famine, water scarcity, and severe storms, an estimated 405 million people will be forced to migrate by 2050. Already, worsening drought in Guatemala and across Central America is sparking a mass migration to the US border. Meanwhile, Trump’s cruel policies have only worsened the dangers migrants face: separating families and diverting millions of dollars to militarize the border, while slashing foreign aid that could help make people’s communities safer and more sustainable. Climate justice demands that we welcome in those displaced by climate change, while mobilizing aid to improve conditions in people’s home communities.

Will you push for fairer trade policies that guard against harm to the climate?

The Trump administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal fails to address climate change, rolls back key environmental standards, and protects US oil, gas, and energy sectors. Not only do we need trade agreements that include environmental protections, we also must call for policies that safeguard the climate - including by ending subsidies for fossil fuel industries.

Will you address the rise of eco-fascism, a growing trend on the far right?

Increasingly, right-wing white nationalists have been seizing upon “eco-fascist” arguments that blame immigrants and people of color for worsening climate change. Relying on deeply racist tropes, some accuse poor women of color for contributing to the problem by having “too many children.” This argument kills: the El Paso and Christchurch terrorists both murdered immigrants, claiming they were responsible for environmental destruction. We need policymakers who will stem the rising tide of these racist, sexist and classist arguments and call out the real culprits: fossil fuel and extractive industries.

How would your policy agenda support grassroots women climate defenders? Will you fund and amplify women’s movements and solutions to confront climate catastrophe?

Grassroots women are leading the way globally, from resisting right-wing policies in Brazil to mobilizing against the exploitative mining industry in Colombia. They are protecting their communities against the ravages of climate changes, devising local solutions that we must learn from and sustain. Yet, women environmental defenders are under threat, violently attacked, murdered, and criminalized for their courageous activism. We need to fund and support women’s organizing, vital to confronting the climate crisis.

We need your help to speak out. Share these questions on Twitter or Facebook:

September 4, 2019