The Freedom to Breathe tour is designed to draw attention to the immediate impacts of climate change in communities across the country, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice is supporting a number of community organizations participating in the tour through a grant provided by the Environmental Defense Fund. The 5,000-mile cross country bus tour features a series of town hall meetings hosted by local organizations fighting on the frontlines of climate change. It began in Atlanta on August 25, 2018 and is visiting Miami, New Orleans, Houston, El Paso, and Denver – along with stops in smaller communities along the way – before arriving in San Francisco for the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, which runs from Sept. 12-14, 2018.
Freedom to Breathe has been shining a spotlight on the impacts and injustices of climate change as well as elevating the stories of frontline communities advancing solutions to climate change. Fueled by the need to ensure that climate solutions include all Americans, Freedom to Breathe invokes the Freedom Riders of the ‘60s in a call-to-action for people throughout the country to confront the racial, social, economic, and climate change challenges that America faces today.
Climate change is a complex problem, which is often interwoven with health, labor, and equity issues – particularly in these frontline communities. However, organizers believe that there is an inherent value to not only drawing attention to and humanizing those on the frontlines of this fight, but also in exploring the grassroots solutions that these local communities are undertaking to combat climate change.
“Studies have found that climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color,” noted Dr. Adrienne L. Hollis, Director of Federal Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “With the Freedom to Breathe tour, we are helping give voice to those who are already being impacted by climate change, calling attention to – in both the mainstream media as well as the mainstream environmental movement – the crisis at hand and all the incredible work these organizations are doing in response to it.
“We feel a lot can be learned from the work these local environmental justice organizations are doing,” added Hollis. “Because, unless we suddenly make some dramatic changes with regards to energy and emissions, every community is going to have to learn how to deal with these challenges on a local level.”