Scientists from around the world have sounded a terrifying alarm: Without immediate action, the world is set to blow by the needed pollution reduction benchmarks and lock in a future with more intense storms, deadly heat waves, and ecological collapse—now and for generations to come. People of color, those with disabilities, and low-income communities, in particular, will continue to be disproportionately burdened by the health and economic devastation caused by pollution and climate change.
But there is hope. We can still realize a pollution-free future powered by clean energy and built with union jobs, all centered on racial and economic justice. This will only be possible, however, if our leaders act now.
At the “Fight for Our Future” rally, timed with Earth Day 2022, the Center for American Progress spoke with advocates about their vision for a just, clean energy future and asked them what they are fighting for.
Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Quotes from activists
I am here today because I think that with [congressional action], we are able to help the environment—and the Black and brown communities who are most affected.
I’m here today to maybe find hope: hope for a future.
I’m worried that the ecosystem, on which all life depends, will be changing more than we can handle. It will change the amount of food we are able to grow, which will mean hunger for more people. It will mean conflict, because people will be trying to get away from situations that are too hot, or too wet, or too cold. We have the technology that will solve this problem, and therefore, we want to use it to stop the world from suffering.
I’m here today to support the climate, care, jobs, and justice.
We care a lot about the climate. We think it’s really, really important to get everyone to rally together—all voices, all different perspectives—so that we can have a healthy planet for future generations.
We want our grandkids to see elephants and to have clean water and clean air.
We’re here because we realize the climate is changing and that we need to not screw up the Earth for people here. We want to do our part: to say something, to join in and contribute what we can to make more people realize that [the climate crisis] is happening.
I know we can all do stuff individually, and I think doing individual actions is important. But we need bigger changes, systemic changes. We need federal legislation [on climate].
I’m here today because I feel that people should do their part. I’m going to quote Alice Walker: ‘Activism is my rent for living on the planet.
I have honestly been facing a lot of climate anxiety recently. We’re a couple, and we’re planning a future together, so I’m worried about the future for our kids. It’s really concerning to think about.
I don’t want to see [the planet] get destroyed. That’s why I’m here.
The window for leaders to avert irreversible climate catastrophe is rapidly closing, and the people have made their voices heard: Congress must invest in a pollution-free future now. The 100 percent clean energy economy can be built with union jobs and address racial, economic, and environmental injustice—but only if our leaders act quickly to deliver.