ALIGN unveils plan that would provide 100,000 climate jobs

Stephon Johnson | 10/29/2020, midnight
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about the term “frontline workers.” A new report by ALIGN NY unveiled a plan to create ...
Surgical mask Image by Khawaja Masud from Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about the term “frontline workers.” A new report by ALIGN NY unveiled a plan to create climate jobs for said frontline workers, who tend to be people of color.

Community organizers along with advocates and elected officials held an online news conference recently to unveil a report that includes a plan that would create 100,000 climate jobs for New Yorkers in neighborhoods hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, titled “An Equitable Recovery for NYC: Creating 100,000 Climate Jobs for Frontline Communities of Color,” put together by the Climate Works for All coalition, points out that New Yorkers of color have been hit the hardest by the two-hit combo of the coronavirus and a declining economy. The report states that Black and Latino New Yorkers make up 51% of New York City’s population but make up two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths. They’re also twice as likely to die from the coronavirus as white New Yorkers. COVID-19, unemployment and health issues have created a dire atmosphere for Black and Brown New York.

According to a recent report by the Community Service Society, stated as of June 2020, the citywide unemployment rate was 23.7% among Black residents, 22.7% among Latino residents and 21.1% among Asian residents. For white New Yorkers, the unemployment rate was 13.9%.

ALIGN Executive Director Maritza Silva- Farrell said that there is a limited time to rebuild the economy in the era of COVID-19.

“Across our city, the highest rates of job loss and death from COVID-19 are in low-income communities and communities of color,” stated Silva- Farrell. “These are the same communities living on the frontlines of climate change. The Climate and Community Stimulus Platform tackles the need for a plan to put 100,000 people back to work with good union jobs while meeting New York City’s climate goals.”

This month, a report from the Centers for Disease Control revealed that out of the 114,000 Americans who died of the coronavirus between May and August, 19% were Black despite Black people making up only 12.5% of the country’s population. For Hispanics, it’s 24% and 18% respectively.

Pat Kane, RNl executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, said that a focus on climate will bring about not only jobs for underserved communities, but health benefits as well.

“We know that exposure to pollution, and pollution-related health conditions like asthma, make people more susceptible to COVID-19,” stated Kane. “Almost 33,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York so far…Nurses know that a green economy that works for all of us is critical to the future of our planet and a just society.”

According to the report, as climate change progresses, economic injustice, environmental racism and public health disparities will worsen with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the problems. The report calls for the city to invest more in climate adaptation, provide more green jobs and help those most impacted by infrastructure issues, racial violence and the coronavirus.

Rebekah Morris, senior program manager for the Pratt Center for Community Development, said local problems require local solutions.

“This report covers numerous areas for where to start our road to an equitable recovery, including a massive investment in energy efficiency for all buildings where low-income New Yorkers live—including small 1-4 family residential—which too often get left out of policymaker’s climate action plans,” stated Morris. “We call on New York City’s politicians to recognize that massive change is needed to help us get through the current and future crises we face.”