Conservation Advocates Urge Nevada Legislators for Action on Climate Justice and Equity

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NEVADA – On the first night of Conservation Lobby Week, conservation experts and activists led a discussion on the disproportionate effects of climate change on historically marginalized communities and called on legislators to advance policies that promote climate justice and equity in the Silver State. 

(A recording of this event can be watched and downloaded here)

Nevada State Climate Policy Coordinator Dr. Kristen Averyt overviewed the equity components interwoven into Governor Sisolak’s State Climate Strategy, a roadmap for accelerating the state’s action on climate change to achieve a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. 

“Study after study shows that climate change is particularly harmful for low-income households, communities of color, and indigenous populations,” said Dr. Kristen Averyt, state climate policy coordinator. “Reducing greenhouse emissions and bolstering resilience planning requires a deliberate and inclusive process that involves historically marginalized communities at the start. Climate justice is a key metric for evaluating policy in the State Climate Strategy, and through this approach, Nevada has the opportunity to shape climate policies that will reconcile climate and social justice challenges across the state.”

American Lung Association Advocacy and Clean Air Manager Melissa Ramos presented the association’s recent report grading Clark, Washoe, and Lyon Counties an ‘F’ for air quality. Poor air quality increases the risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases, especially for marginalized communities who reside in urban areas. 

Conservation activists iterated the significance of centering equity and environmental justice in climate policies to improve the health, safety, and well-being of low-income communities and communities of color who bear the brunt of the climate crisis. 

“Latino children are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino white children,” said Cinthia Moore, national lead for EcoMadres and Las Vegas Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. “When thinking about climate action, it is important to consider the disparities that exist in our community, and for us to be more inclusive when coming up with solutions. We cannot continue to have conversations about climate issues without considering and making climate justice a priority.” 

“The impacts of climate change are being felt around the globe, but especially by our most vulnerable communities who may not have the means to prepare or recover from the climate crisis,” said Gabriele Shields, lead community organizer for Faith Organizing Alliance. “Environmental policy must be methodized around low-income communities and communities of color, providing them the resources necessary to stave off the effects of the climate crisis, transition to a cleaner and fairer economy, and create climate-resilient and thriving communities.” 

“We need to provide training and remove all barriers to access to the well paying job opportunities in the rapidly growing Clean Energy field,” said Jerry Holliday, director for Uplift Foundation of Nevada. “Many in our community who are lower income and people of color will continue to fall further and further behind economically. This can lead to increasing costs for everyone in the areas of healthcare  and social services instead of having more people earning a decent wage and heading down the road to being more productive and healthier citizens.”

Tomorrow, March 23rd, Nevada legislators and conservation groups will discuss the prioritization of Nevada’s Indigenous community in conversations surrounding public lands and learn how conservation of public lands can boost the economy and protect culturally and spiritually significant landscapes.  Featured speakers include Assemblywoman Cecelia González, Assemblywoman Sarah Peters, and Assemblyman Howard Watts. 

Conservation Lobby Week is hosted by the Nevada Conservation Network and features a series of nightly town halls from March 22nd to 25th discussing the urgent need for bold climate and conservation-centered policy with members of the Nevada Senate and Assembly, conservation leaders, and activists.