Letter from May Boeve, Executive Director 350.org, March 18, 2020.
The COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly across the globe, and we know that in this time, we’re all feeling a mix of emotions, including being anxious and worried for what this means for our loved ones.
As with the climate crisis, there’s no arguing about the reality and science of the coronavirus. We know that as our climate changes, pandemics are more likely. This pandemic has already affected different parts of the world in varying ways, hitting certain communities and regions much harder than others. And across the United States, we are seeing the intersections of these crises.
In our work alongside Indigenous communities to stop Keystone XL for example, TransCanada is trying to continue construction amidst this pandemic, bringing thousands of workers to the route adjacent to reservations and rural communities where there is very limited access to health care services. Taking this pandemic seriously is a critical part of what it means to prepare for the impacts of the climate crisis at large, and the response is teaching us lessons about the scale that we must mobilize to preserve our communities health and right to thrive.
This pandemic is more than just a public health crisis. We’re seeing rising xenophobia, racism, inequities in our healthcare system, and lack of access for our most vulnerable communities rear its head as part of this crisis. This requires a mass response from all of us. We have a momentous opportunity to come together united as a global community to combat the virus and build the world we want. While we recognize that there is a lot of fear in this moment, the only way to fight this virus is to come together to confront this head-on as one, united, global community.
As governments around the world scramble to respond to this pandemic, we know that the most powerful industries (including fossil fuel industries) are fighting to make sure their profits are protected. We need to see a global green new deal – not a bailing out of the industries that are making the climate crisis worse. We ask that you consider reaching out to your member of Congress and ask them to make sure that the needs of people and planet are prioritized in their response.
We’re sending you strength and solidarity as we all do what’s necessary to get through this. We all deserve care and protection in dealing with COVID-19 and we recognize that for the elderly, the immune-compromised, the undocumented, the incarcerated, the disabled, low income and Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities, the coronavirus can be life-threatening.
We are all better off when each and every one of us is treated with dignity and respect. The things that will help us fight novel coronavirus are also good for our long term well being and will model the cooperation we need to address other global challenges like the climate crisis.
Now is the time for us to come together, unite across our differences, and protect one another in pursuit of the world we want and deserve. We cannot return to ‘business as usual’ once this moment has passed – instead, we have the opportunity to demand the care and repair we deserve in our communities and for our world.
So look after others, look after yourself, and stay resilient.