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Earth Day 2020: COVID and the climate crisis

By Arielle Newton, Field Organizer, Amnesty International USA

The impacts of the coronavirus and this global pandemic have exacerbated a startling host of human rights issues and violations, and climate change is not immune.

We applaud the brave organizers and activists who call attention to how this global pandemic aggravates overarching societal ills. And, as this public health crisis unfolds, we seek to highlight the ways climate change and justice are impacted.

Positively, the climate justice movement remains hopeful that mass scale change in human behavior can reduce negative consequences on our climate. We know that human activity (i.e. burning fossil fuels) is the leading cause of climate disruption, and thus drastic reforms in our behavior is key to reducing climate instability.

We further remain committed to our human rights principles that individuals, governments, and corporations most responsible for climate change, should be the most responsible for solving the crisis. And that people most harmed by climate instability and pollution should be the foremost voices, organizers, activists, and justice-seekers whose solutions and insights we follow and uplift.

Still, during these times when the global pandemic is causing upheaval to everyday life, there remains structural and individual attempts to further violate or ignore human rights and revamp efforts to negatively disrupt our fragile climate.

We’re concerned about how billions of dollars in bailouts could be used as blank checks to the fossil fuel industry and ancillary corporations (like airlines that rely heavily on fossil fuels), and how these massive sums of money could further hinder efforts to transition to clean energy.

We’re worried about the quiet and indefinite rollback of EPA regulations under the current U.S. presidential administration, and how alleviating these protections will further exacerbate the climate crisis and public health — especially the health of communities of color and other people who are disproportionately impacted by pollution.

At Amnesty International, we believe that the rights to be alive and be healthy are fundamental human rights, and climate instability threatens both …and so much more.

That’s why beginning April 20th, we’re calling for a Week of Virtual Action on Climate Change!

We’re calling on anyone and everyone who cares about ensuring climate justice to participate.

These actions are vital additions to the climate justice movement that grows more robust, agile, and skilled with each passing day. Because we know the climate can’t wait … so we shouldn’t either.

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