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As temperatures drop and notions of family and warmth dominate for another year, many around the country are bracing for another harsh winter. Year after year, the severity and frequency of extreme weather have increased and are likely to continue doing so, putting so many communities in harm’s way — often without the support they need to prepare and recover.

In 2021, at COP26, global leaders admitted their failure to meet their climate change mitigation goals. They attributed this to the US’s failure to invest in frontline communities, and to global refusal to add climate reparations to the new global climate plan.

This is an act of global violence against those on the frontlines: Black and Indigenous communities.

Time and again the storms of the season have been particularly dangerous for Black communities in regions of the country that have experienced serious divestment, and whose infrastructure is not equipped to deal with constant and unyielding climate crises. In fact, some communities along the South are still recovering from the damage caused by the winter storm last February. It does not need to be this way.

In February of 2021, we surveyed over 50,000 households in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. We learned about the disproportionate impact of the storm on communities of color, with Black and Latinx communities hit hardest. They made bold calls for accountability, transparency and real change.

Recently, we released a report that shares what we learned and serves as a roadmap for change.

In collaboration with The Smile Trust, the Movement for Black Lives’ Red, Black & Green New Deal has released the 2021 Arctic Blast Report.

We know that the climate crisis is killing Black people. This report analyzes how the fossil fuel industry created the “perfect” storm that left communities across Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi living in dire, inhumane conditions. 

Last year’s storm left Black people throughout the South stranded inside of their homes without heat, food and water, forcing people to burn furniture and other desperate means to stay warm in freezing conditions.

The hypocrisy is astounding. 

The U.S. produces 14.5 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents, primarily through the use of fossil fuels. Not only is our government complicit in creating the conditions that cause these dangerous storms, but they also design climate mitigation plans based on old scientific models using temperature averages from 30 years ago. These weather events routinely exhaust our energy systems, and our elected officials pass along the costs of power surges to the consumer.

The solutions are clear, and we must be unwavering:

We demand a massive shift in spending. We must pull resources from the fossil fuel industry and make meaningful investments in our shared vision of community safety through climate mitigation and renewable energy — no other strategy will get us where we need to go.

We are demanding reparations for the environmental atrocities committed against Black communities. Globally, it is those least responsible for the decisions leading to global environmental catastrophe who are paying the highest price. It’s time for those who create the most pollution to be held accountable for the destruction and death they’ve caused around the world.

And we demand that community safety also include climate and environmental protections against the harm caused by fossil fuels. So many Black communities that are also home to our most vulnerable are at elevated risk of heart, lung and respiratory diseases caused by pollution and extreme weather, caused by greenhouse gasses and global warming.

Our report makes 12 recommendations that come together to create a roadmap for safety and liberation in the face of climate change. Meeting these demands will ensure that our energy providers are properly regulated, our most vulnerable communities are protected from extreme weather, and our communities are safe and thriving for generations to come.


Valencia Gunder is Co-Director of The Smile Trust and National Lead of M4BL’s Red Black & Green New Deal.