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Press Release – Public Forum on Climate Justice in Virginia

jackie, September 11, 2019

For more information:

Mary Supley




Public Forum on Climate Justice in Virginia

Moderated by William Barber, III and Karenna Gore


For Immediate Release — Fairfax, Virginia — The 2019 Virginia Climate Crisis Forum will take place on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at 7:30 PM, at First Baptist Church of Vienna, 450 Orchard Street, NW, Vienna, Virginia 22180. The forum is open to the public and free of charge. Doors open at 7 PM; space is limited. For additional details or to register, visit bit.ly/2019climateforum.


The Virginia Climate Crisis Forum is hosted by Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) and co-sponsored by Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, Interfaith Power & Light (DC, MD, NoVA), and the Virginia Poor People’s Campaign. Attendees, including people of faith and community members across Virginia, will engage in a deep conversation about environmental justice, moderated by William Barber, III and Karenna Gore. Topics of discussion will include the landscape of environmental justice issues in Virginia, the intersection with faith, energy justice, and Fairfax County’s approach to equity. In addition, attendees will hear from people directly impacted by climate justice issues.


“Ultimately our work to develop local solutions to the climate crisis is about people. How can we minimize human suffering and create an equitable environment where people can enjoy a healthy, livable community?” Meg Mall, Executive Director of FACS poses this question to the community. “With this year’s Virginia Climate Crisis Forum, FACS is opening a conversation about environmental justice as a civil right.”


William Barber, III, is the Strategic Partnerships Associate at The Climate Reality Project. He is the son of Rev. Dr. William Barber, II. Karenna Gore is the Founding Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. She is the eldest daughter of former Vice President Al Gore.


Barber underscores why the topic of the forum is so important: “If we are serious about addressing the current environmental crisis of our time, we must be serious about understanding fully the connections between environmental injustice and the climate crisis. When we think of environmental injustice, we often think in the local context: we picture issues of localized pollution and the fight by communities — often poor, black, and brown — for clean air, clean water, and a clean environment in which to live. But too often, we don’t expand our thoughts to the larger connection, that every time one of these communities is encroached upon by a natural gas pipeline, disrupted by a petrochemical facility,  or targeted for any other fossil fuel expansion, it increases the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being dumped into our global atmosphere and lowers the probability that we will act in enough time to minimize the worst effects of this crisis.  And, what is even more damning, is that these same communities who have lived with decades of environmental and health disruptions and who contribute the least to the climate crisis are set to be the ones hit first and worst by these effects. Without a doubt, we cannot address the climate crisis without addressing its disproportionate impacts.”


Panelists for the event include:


  • Karla Bruce, Chief Equity Officer, Fairfax County
  • Karen Campblin, Co-chair of Green New Deal Virginia; Transportation and Smart Growth Co-chair of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club; and Environmental and Climate Justice Chair of the Virginia NAACP State Conference
  • Andrea Miller, Organizer for Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and Executive Director of Demanding Action
  • Dawone Robinson, Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Director of Energy Affordability for the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Paul Wilson, Pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church and Union Grove Baptist Church
  • Melody Zhang, Climate Justice Campaign Coordinator at Sojourners and Co-Chair of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action


Zhang offers her perspective as a Christian on the important of addressing climate change and on its intersection with environmental justice, “As a Christian community we must prioritize working from a deeper understanding that climate change is not an intangible, distant threat that we can’t relate to. Its impact is already full-fledged around the world and here in our communities locally! Exacerbated natural disasters and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns pull the most vulnerable in our society into poverty, housing and food insecurity, and public health crises like increased rates of asthma, polluted groundwater, and more. In the Christian tradition, as Jesus calls us to love the ‘least of these’, we must open our eyes to the ways in which our brothers and sisters around the world have been devastated and are experiencing the ravaging effects of the climate crisis on their livelihoods. For some reason, today we still argue over climate science, but we simply cannot argue with the lived experience of our neighbors most ostracized by climate change. In fact, it is a fundamental product of our privilege to even deny that it is still happening in the US when it is being borne on the bodies and livelihoods of our brothers and sisters most underheard and overlooked. I wish everyday Americans would come to see that the climate crisis is not ‘just for liberal environmentalists’ to rally around. It really is both the greatest — and at the same time most insidious — humanitarian crisis in this generation.”


The moderators and panelists will engage attendees in a conversation about how to respond as a faith community to better care for Creation through a commitment to local solutions to environmental justice.


“The climate crisis makes our sacred responsibility to address environmental injustice even more urgent. As we work together to repair our damaged climate, we must make sure that everyone most impacted — including low-income people, people of color, the vulnerable, and those on the frontlines — is part of every solution,” says Eric Goplerud, Chairperson of FACS.


Residents from throughout Virginia are encouraged to attend the 2019 Virginia Climate Crisis Forum to participate in this conversation on climate change and environmental justice. Prior to and after the program, attendees will also have the opportunity to talk with and learn more about dozens of nonprofit organizations and government agencies who will be sharing information in the lobby. Doors will open at 7 PM, and the program will begin at 7:30 PM.


Representing more than 70 congregations in the Northern Virginia area, FACS advocates for equitable climate policies in Northern Virginia and in the Commonwealth. We empower and unite neighbors of all faiths to develop local solutions to the climate crisis. FACS is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan organization. For more information, visit faithforclimate.org.