350 Maine is a grassroots movement dedicated to fighting for climate justice.
What is climate justice?
The term climate justice frames the climate crisis as a political and ethical issue. It emphasizes that climate crisis is about power, as this video from 350.org explains. In order to fully combat the political systems that have created the climate crisis, and promote a just transition to sustainable systems, the power must shift from fossil fuel companies to the people through climate justice.
Why is climate justice important?
Climate change disproportionately affects marginalized people, including low income groups, communities of color, indigenous groups, and Global South countries. These groups tend to be communities who have contributed the least to climate change. Climate justice centers marginalized groups, addressing how climate change does not affect people equally. Climate justice movements work towards a just transition to systems that work for the planet and everyone, not just fossil fuel companies and privileged members of society who can more easily adapt to the effects of climate change.
Credit: Front and Centered
What does climate justice look like in Maine?
Many people in Maine are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and due to factors like race, class, and gender, face the harshest consequences of climate change. 350 Maine acknowledges how climate change affects people differently in Maine and aims to center those marginalized and on the frontlines of the climate crisis in conversations about climate change.
One major example of Mainers on the frontlines of climate change are Maine fishermen, whose livelihoods are threatened by Maine fisheries shifting north due to warming waters. People in other natural resource dependent industries, like farmers, will also be affected by climate change.
Maine’s indigenous people are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. For example, the National Climate Assessment reports that “climate change and other environmental stressors are affecting the range, quality, and quantity of berry resources for the Wabanaki tribes in the Northeast.” The Pleasant Point Tribal Government recognizes how climate change threatens their community, creating a Climate Change Program in response. This program “create[s] information stream about climate change for Wabanaki people, “preserv[es] & adapt[s] Wabanaki cultural heritage in face of climate change,” and “provide[s] the tools for each reservation to start creating climate adaptation plans.”
Many members of Maine’s immigrant communities have fled from instability created or exacerbated by climate change. When considering climate change in Maine, we must provide new Mainers support so they do not face further instability due to the climate crisis.
Our Climate Justice and Solidarity Work:
350 Maine has stood in solidarity with Maine’s Tribal Nations calling for, and testifying for, the State Legislature to pass a bill recognizing the tribes’ sovereignty. We support the Wabanaki Alliance and have held a Maine Wabanaki REACH workshop for our staff and members in our ongoing efforts to decolonize ourselves and our organization. To further this work we have funded a Climate Justice Fellowship for Maine Youth for Climate Justice and created a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) advisory group made up of activists who are committed to bringing a justice framework to and increasing accessibility in Maine’s climate movements. This group’s goal is to intentionally broaden our engagement of, and work with, diverse and marginalized communities. We want 350 Maine to become a more welcoming and justice oriented space with diverse membership and leadership that centers marginalized voices. Agendas for the JEDI meetings can be found here. Resources will be available here.
Spring of 2020 brought forth focus on the inequities visited upon marginalized and vulnerable communities in Maine by the pandemic and by systemic racism. 350 Maine encouraged our members to act virtually by educating themselves via webinars and readings, donating to Wabanaki or their local Food Pantries, Black Power Portland, For Us By Us, and the Environmental Changemakers Covid Relief Fund. 350 Maine understands that climate justice is social, racial and economic justice.
Portland Water Is Life and No DAPL Solidarity Rally, September 2016