“Climate change is about us”

Fence-line communities, the NAACP and the grounding of climate justice

Authored by: Brandon Derman

Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138689350
eBook ISBN: 9781315537689
Adobe ISBN:


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This study draws on interview data, transcripts and field notes from participant observation at meetings and texts produced by the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program (ECJP) to analyse the development and roll-out of its climate justice initiative. I trace ECJP’s work from its video testimonials by women in fence-line communities affected by coal-fired power plants; to chapter-level teach-ins and organisation-wide mobilisation toolkits; to high-level litigation, lobbying and disaster recovery planning efforts like those convened following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The ECJP’s process of analysis, mobilisation and advocacy works, I argue, by “grounding” climate justice with respect to place, history, identity and polity. That grounding underpins ECJP’s use of established platforms, to push for energy justice and economic opportunity in African American communities and beyond. ECJP’s connective analyses suggest new methodologies for climate justice scholarship, and illustrate the potential for more thorough integration of climate justice advocacy with pre-existing social movements and the political influence they wield.

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