A coalition of environmental and social justice activists marched from Founders Plaza in Hartford to the State Capitol Tuesday, crying for investments in climate action to remediate future threats.
In addition to speakers at each stop, the march featured numerous grassroots-made signs and stunning visuals, including a pipeline and other visuals to demonstrate the damage done by fossil fuels.
At the end of the march, the coalition presented a list of policy-focused demands, including requiring state agencies and private companies to comply with existing climate laws; funding for energy efficient, fossil fuel-free buildings; increased access to solar and solar affordability; ending fossil-fueled gas expansion policies; the requiring of climate change teaching in public schools; mitigation of transportation pollution; and strengthening of the state’s environmental justice law. The state’s 2022 legislative session, during which legislators could choose to act on many of these policies, begins Wednesday.
Amelia Kearney, a member of the Sunrise Movement Connecticut, said: “As a young person, the climate crisis and environmental destruction are two of the biggest crises that my generation faces. I want all of us to have a future on an earth that still has beautiful natural areas, and that isn’t constantly being hit with natural disasters. We need more people fixing these problems and speaking up, and that is why I’m a climate activist.”
Elana Sulakshana, senior energy finance campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, said: “Here in Hartford, CT, insurance giants like Travelers are insuring and investing in fossil fuel expansion globally, from pipelines to offshore oil and gas drilling. While Travelers’ new coal and tar sands policy is an important first step, we paid a visit to the company’s Hartford office today to demand that CEO Schnitzer and the company leadership end support for all fossil fuel expansion and close the loopholes in the current policy. Without insurance coverage, new fossil fuel projects cannot be built and existing ones must be phased out, which is the pathway we urgently need to be on for the climate and communities.”
Katharine Morris, MPP, founding member of CT Equity Now, said: “If there is one thing folks take away from this rally, it is that there is no climate action without environmental justice. Environmental Justice is not an elective component of environmentalism to be selectively highlighted during the month of February, it is foundational to the movement. Until our climate action, policies, laws, and overall culture reflects this, we will continue marching.”
Leticia Colon de Mejias, president and founder of Green Eco Warriors, said: “Knowledge is power. Our young people need climate education in their schools to equip them to face the future and lead on this most critical issue. People cannot be engaged if they are not informed. Equity requires MEANINGFUL inclusion. This will be my top legislative priority this legislative session.”
Michio Agresta, president of UConn Fridays for Future, said: “For far too long, our institutions have ignored disparities of environmental degradation and pollution facing BIPOC and low-income communities. Fridays for Future is committed to climate justice and centering communities most impacted, and supporting policies and actions that lift them up. We will continue pushing for UConn to divest from fossil fuels in coalition with campus groups on campus, while also being an ally to their social justice causes.”
Simran Kaur Ladhad, program administrator of the CT Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice, said: “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color pay larger percentages of their income to energy costs than society at large. This is largely due to the substandard, older and energy inefficient housing stock where they live. Many are on fixed incomes and can’t keep up with the rising energy costs they cannot control. In addition, unemployment rates are at record levels. As such, we are disproportionately impacted by Eversource’s shut off policies which are inhumane.”
Endorsing organizations include: 350 CT, Acadia Center, Blue Earth Compost, Collaborative Center for Justice, Congress of Community Colleges (4Cs), Connecticut Chapter Sierra Club, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Connecticut Clean Water Action, Connecticut Climate Crisis Mobilization (C3M), Connecticut Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice, CSEA SEIU Local 2001, Democracy4All, Drinking Liberally Meriden, Drinking Liberally Windsor, Eastern Connecticut Green Action, Efficiency for All, First Church in Windsor, Indivisible West Hartford, National Association of Social Workers, No More Dirty Power in Killingly, Recovery4All Coalition, Save the Sound, Sunrise Movement Connecticut, UAW Region 9A,UConn Praxis, and Unitarian Universalist Society East Sustainable Living Committee.