This Earth Week, let’s put caution at the center of climate action

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“Care is essential low-carbon work that must be centered and encouraged in a just transition to a green economy.”

—Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE and member of the feminist Green New Deal Coalition

The Feminist Green New Deal Coalition advocates for investment in high quality jobs in the care sectors of our economy as part of a climate and infrastructure package, as well as climate policy more broadly. (Chris Yakimov / Flickr)

In this Earth Week 2021, let us finally and fully recognize the central role that care plays in the well-being of people and the planet.

In the run-up to Earth Week, the Feminist Coalition of the Green New Deal (FemGND, for short) – a broad coalition of organizations and individuals across the United States working for climate, gender, racial, economic and reproductive justice and who together advocate for an intersectional feminist response to the climate crisis – released an exciting new historical resource the intersection of care and climate. The thematic dossier, “Care & Climate: Understanding the political intersectionsAdvocates for investment in high-quality jobs in the care sectors of our economy – including child care, residential care and home health care – as part of a climate and infrastructure package, as well as a broader climate policy.

In order to move from an economy based on fossil fuels to a healthy and sustainable economy for people and the planet, massive public investments will have to be made to create and support decent and high quality climate jobs for all, especially those who have been economically marginalized, including people of color, women and gender mavericks, and especially black and indigenous women.

For many, the term “green jobs” conjures up hard hats and construction sites, where workers (mostly men) will renovate buildings and build and build solar panels. This is valuable and necessary work that we must invest in, while intentionally building stronger structures to bring women and people of color into areas such as renewable energy and construction. At the same time, however, we must recognize that green jobs mean much more.


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“Care is essential low-carbon work that must be centered and encouraged in a just transition to a green economy,” said Yifat Susskind, executive director of MADRE and member of FemGND.

Care work, which is the vital and vital work of caring for children, caring for the elderly, caring for the disabled and more, is devastatingly undervalued and under-resourced. Many have pointed out how care work, paid and unpaid, is the backbone of our economy and subsidizes all sectors, “green” or not. This is, as the brief states, “the unrecognized cost of maintaining our national infrastructure, carried out overwhelmingly by women, especially women of color. Focusing on unpaid care work highlights the political supports needed to sustain all social and economic production. “

We know that half of all Home health and personal care aides – who often care for the elderly and disabled – are women of color, and the downgrading of their care work is the result of white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy that intersect. Momentum is building to recognize healthcare infrastructure as the key to a fair and green recovery not only from the COVID-19 crisis, but also from the interlocking crises of white supremacy, patriarchy and inequality. economic.

This Earth Week, let's put caution at the center of climate action
Filipino TV host and actress Miriam Quiambao calling for gender justice in climate change in October 2008. (Mongkhonsawat Luengvorapant / Oxfam)

“This note articulates the links between two of the greatest crises facing our country, showing that care work is climate work, and vice versa. We need to make sure the future is based on gender and racial justice, ”said Julie Kashen, senior researcher and director of economic justice for women at the Century Foundation.

“Home care workers are essential to our care infrastructure – investing in creating quality home care jobs will create millions of low carbon jobs for women, immigrants and individuals. of color, and will support a workforce that is often on the front lines of climate crises. Said Ilana Berger, New York director of the Domestic Employers Network and co-director of the NY Caring Majority campaign.

For climate action and investments and an economic recovery that prioritizes racial, economic and gender justice, focusing on healthcare infrastructure is the starting point.

The dissertation was co-authored by a powerful duo of climate and economic policy experts. Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute and one of the authors of the Green New Deal, and Lenore Palladino, assistant professor of economics and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, were Building on the growing momentum around expanding and investing in national care infrastructure, from President Biden’s inclusion of elderly care in his infrastructure plan to Congressman Jamaal Bowman (DN.Y .) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recent release of the Care for All program.

On the release of the FemGND briefing note, Congressman Jamaal Bowman Noted:

“To build the world our children deserve and to tackle the climate crisis we are facing, we need a paradigm shift in the way we treat care. We need an economy that values ​​and prioritizes healing, not the current system of plantation capitalism that is destroying the planet and our people in order to concentrate obscene amounts of wealth in the hands of the few. Let’s treat care work for what it is – infrastructure – and invest in those jobs and workers so we can build a truly sustainable economy.

The FemGND hopes this resource brings new analysis to the discourse on climate investments and infrastructure, arguing that policy design must be mindful of the role that health care infrastructure must play in just economic recovery and for gender justice. and racial.

This Earth week, read the new FemGND brief and commit to putting care at the center of climate policy and action.

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