Toxins, Justice and Opportunity
Climate, Health and Equity Brief

Toxins, Justice and Opportunity

Photo Credit: Brittany Greeson/The New York Times

The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Hot Topic: No justice. A study out this week has established the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and COVID-19 death rates, finding a “large overlap” between communities with dirty air and those who succumb to coronavirus. The findings are particularly important for African Americans, who tend to be exposed to higher levels of toxic air and are also suffering COVID-19 death rates disproportionate to their population.

Despite this and other direct links between air pollution and human health, industry leaders continue to promote fossil fuel interests as part of COVID-19 relief plans. Republican senators have called for the coal industry to receive bailout funds, and the oil, gas and transportation industries have used economic losses as justification for requests to delay implementation of pollution limits in some U.S. states.

Thankfully, states like New York and countries including Denmark and Amsterdam are using this moment of transition as an opportunity to implement carbon-reducing solutions as part of their COVID-19 recovery plans. As world leaders determine the path to recovery, evidence continues to show that solutions that protect the health of our planet will simultaneously protect us all.

—Matt & Traci, GMMB

A nationwide study has found that those who have had long-term exposure to air pollution face higher mortality rates from COVID-19. (The New York Times)Experts warn that forecasted flooding over the next few months, exacerbated by warming temperatures, could act as a threat multiplier for midwestern states in the U.S. already struggling with COVID-19. (Grist)Emerging scientific evidence suggests that our vulnerability to infectious diseases such as COVID-19 increases as humans encroach on wildlife habitats. (The San Francisco Chronicle)Equity
A new map tool that indicates regions of vulnerability to the coronavirus outbreak suggests a correlation between black and low-income communities in disproportionate proximity to industrial facilities and a greater projected risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. (Grist)Politics & Economy
Global electric vehicle sales are expected to drop by 43 percent in 2020 as economic impacts from COVID-19 and falling oil prices reduce demand and halt production. (Axios)A new study found that electricity generation from wind and solar sources outperformed fossil fuels in the first quarter of 2020, with continued renewable energy growth expected despite COVID-19 impacts. (The New York Times)Republican lawmakers are calling on the federal reserve to ensure that fossil fuel companies, and specifically the coal industry, are included in a COVID-19 financial relief program. (Bloomberg)Industry groups—including oil and gas, building, agriculture and transportation—are asking state officials to delay or modify California’s pollution limits, citing economic strains from COVID-19. (HuffPost)Action
Democratic senators are calling on the EPA to suspend Trump-era rules that would degrade air quality and exacerbate the COVID-19 health crisis. (The Hill)New York has announced new legislation to advance the state’s clean power plans and promote renewable energy as a driver for economic recovery from COVID-19. (Clean Technica)Danish Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen announced that the country will prioritize climate ambitions and strive for a “green recovery” from the economic impacts of COVID-19. (Reuters)Amsterdam will embrace the so-called doughnut model—which attempts to balance the needs of people without harming the environment—to ensure its sustainable recovery from COVID-19. (Quartz)Kicker
Want to teach your kids about climate change while they’re at home? Check out these free lesson plans.

“This outbreak is exposing the deep structural inequities that make communities pushed to the margins more vulnerable to health crises in good times and in bad.”

–    Dorianne Mason, director of health equity at the National Women’s Law Center