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Environment

On Earth Day, activists call for environmental justice in the face of the coronavirus pandemic

People wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walk past a mural of the world in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Matt Rourke
/
The Associated Press
People wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walk past a mural of the world in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

Washington’s broadest coalition of climate activists is using the 50th anniversary of Earth Day to call for a just recovery from COVID-19.

Like climate pollution, the new coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and people of color. Washington’s Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy says as the state and the country come out of the public health crisis, emergency justice is needed to ensure a safer, more equitable future for all.

The list of calls to action is as long and diverse as the coalition putting it forward. The alliance includes environmental organizations, labor unions, communities of color, businesses, faith communities and health professionals. It came together in 2018 to create voter Initiative 1631, the carbon fee, which voters rejected.

It was a response to a prior carbon initiative, the tax swap, I- 732, that critics said did not bring enough socio-economic diversity or climate justice to the table. The call on Earth Day for a just transition out of the COVID-19 crisis comes as in-person activism has been forced online, but speakers say the need for climate action is as urgent as ever. 

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