Facing a crisis of high utility bills and pollution-related health problems, Chicago neighborhood groups will gather at the Austin Satellite Senior Center, 5071 W. Congress Blvd, Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a first-ever summit to show residents that fighting climate change is a battle that begins at their own doorstep.
This summit will explore climate change as fundamentally an issue of human rights and environmental justice.
With rising temperatures, human lives – particularly people of color, low-income and Indigenous communities – are affected by compromised health, financial burdens, and social and cultural disruptions.
These communities are the first to experience the negative impacts of climate change such as heat-related illness and death, respiratory illness, infectious diseases, unaffordable rises in energy costs and extreme natural disasters.
Not only do they bear disproportionate burdens from climate change itself, but also from ill-designed policies to prevent climate change and the side effects of the energy systems that cause it as well.
“Too often climate change is only seen as something tackled by a United Nations conference,” said Theresa Welch, associate director of the South Austin Community Coalition. “But neighborhoods, particularly the poor and communities of color, are the worst hit and last to recover from such environmental devastation.”
“Not only will this summit demand action from our elected officials and corporations, but we’re also going to give residents simple and solid actions they can take to save money and fight climate change from their own front door,” she said.
“Climate change affects all of us, but it is the world’s poor who contribute least to the problem and who have the least capacity to adapt to a changing climate. The world’s poor are already suffering the most from its devastating impact. That is why, at its heart, climate change is a matter of justice.”