Environmental justice and racial justice must be the heart of Seattle’s Green New Deal.In Seattle, environmental pollution is deeply segregated by race and class. Children growing up in the Duwamish Valley are three times more likely to suffer from asthma than those growing up in North Seattle. People living in South Park and Georgetown have an expected lifespan that’s eight years shorter than the average Seattle resident, and 13 years shorter than the well-off, largely white neighborhood of Laurelhurst.
Our Green New Deal investments must prioritize addressing these environmental injustices and center solutions from communities most impacted. To ensure that this is an integral part of our Green New Deal, individuals deeply rooted in communities of color; Native communities; and immigrant, refugee, and low income communities must be central to the Green New Deal Task Force that will approve how Seattle’s Green New Deal investments are made.
Seattle’s Green New Deal must acknowledge that Seattle stands on stolen land.The City of Seattle must establish a Free, Prior and Informed Consent policy with regional tribes, including the Duwamish. Washington State’s Attorney General recently announced a policy that requires the Attorney General’s Office to obtain free, prior and informed consent before initiating a program or project that directly and tangibly affects tribes, tribal rights, tribal lands and sacred sites. The City of Seattle should do the same, especially given that the Muckleshoot and Suquamish have traditional fishing rights in several Seattle watersheds, rivers, and the Puget Sound basin.
All workers deserve a living wage and a safe, healthy work environment.The jobs created by Seattle’s Green New Deal investments ― from janitors to construction workers, electricians to service workers ― should be unionized and include Project Labor Agreements and Labor Harmony Agreements that will ensure high-quality work and fair treatment of workers. They should also utilize priority hire and be accessible to undocumented people and people with criminal records; being a Sanctuary City means being a place where no one is exploited, and no one thrown away.
Additionally, workers, organized labor, and small business leaders must also be at the decision-making table when investment decisions are being made; their input is essential to ensuring that Seattle’s Green New Deal supports a thriving green economy and that workers benefit from the transition away from fossil fuels.
The climate crisis is a moral emergency.Human-caused global warming is already killing between 150,000 to 400,000 people every single year, and is pushing species and ecosystems to extinction. Over time, the United States has been the biggest contributor to climate pollution, so reducing it is a moral imperative for US governments at all scales.
Everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, healthy food, and a healthy environment.Access to clean air, clean water, healthy food, and a healthy environment are essential to wellbeing, and must be recognized as a fundamental right. In 2019, Seattle had the ninth worst air quality of any major U.S. city ― a disturbing fact when we consider that over 8.8 million people die from air pollution every year. Seattle’s Green New Deal must prioritize the fundamental human rights of clean air, clean water, healthy food, and a healthy environment for all people in its investment decisions.