BUCKHANNON – A West Virginia field organizer for the Mom’s Clean Air Force recently shared information about a new alliance that has formed around climate action in West Virginia.
Leah Barbor said the West Virginia Climate Alliance is an environmental, civil rights and faith-based coalition, and the mission of the young-adults organization is to work together to provide science-based education on climate change in West Virginia to the residents and policymakers.
“We seek to advance climate solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while assuring that all West Virginians, especially low-income and communities of color, have adequate resources to transition to a low-carbon economy,” Barbor said.
She said a recently released publication called “A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Change,” authored by the West Virginia Climate Change Alliance, explains the science behind the causes of climate change and its impacts, as well as potential solutions. Barbor said the publication was written by West Virginians for West Virginians.
“The Alliance is really growing, and it is exciting,” Barbor said. “It makes me feel excited for what this means for West Virginia.”
Barbor said the alliance produced the publication to keep the conversation on climate change going.
“Basically, the publication is a science-based public education tool for citizens and policy makers. One of the main purposes of the alliance is to seek to advance climate solutions that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions. What we laid out in the guide are causes and the local impacts as well as global issues resulting from those emissions,” she said. “It also has some potential solutions.”
Barbor said the alliance is not endorsing anything particular.
“But we have a shared vision for climate action,” she said. “What that contains is three pillars of reform that we want to see included in future policies in order to achieve what we believe will be meaningful climate action. Those are climate justice, a just transition and reduction in greenhouse gases.”
Barbor said those pillars were a no-brainer for her.
“These pillars align pretty seamlessly with our work at the Mom’s Clean Air Force,” Barbor said. “As parents, we care deeply about climate change and air pollution. One thing we really focus on is justice in every breath – recognizing the importance of equitable solutions in adjusting air pollution and climate change. We need to ensure the needs of low-income communities and communities of color are protected from further inequality as it relates to environmental health.”
She said they want to make sure individuals in these communities have their environmental needs met, that they have a voice in how climate change is met, ensure they do not pay a disproportional cost for addressing climate change.
“Here in West Virginia the ‘just transition piece’ is really important as we move to a low carbon community. We really want to see that no West Virginians are left behind as we move to a low-carbon community. We want to make sure there are quality job retraining opportunities, that people’s health insurance and pensions are secured because those matter to families,” Barbor said.
Barbor said the West Virginia Climate Alliance is an informal collective of groups in West Virginia who have a shared vision for climate action.
“We all recognize there is a need for climate justice, a just transition and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As an alliance, we are in favor of supporting policies and future legislation that include these three pillars and address them in a meaningful way.”
The West Virginia Climate Alliance includes the American Friends Service Committee, the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, Citizens Climate Lobby West Virginia, League of Women Voters of West Virginia, Christians for the Mountains, Mom’s Clean Air Force-West Virginia, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club of West Virginia, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, West Virginia Citizen Action Education Fund, Wet Virginia Interfaith Power and Light and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
People who would like to help or learn more about the West Virginia Climate Alliance can contact Perry Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Change, go to wvrivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/wvclimate.pdf.