Bronx youth and community leaders rally for climate justice

Elected officials and youth hold a climate justice rally.
Courtesy of Twitter page of Senator Biaggi

As the south Bronx is known for its poor air quality, high asthma rates and food deserts, residents are calling for the passage of the New York Climate and Community Investment Act.

The CCIA would generate $10-$15 billion in revenue and invest the funds in green job creation, renewable energy and investment in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis. Low- and moderate-income New Yorkers in New York City would also automatically receive a yearly tax credit of $700.

On May 21, Bronx residents joined elected officials Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymembers Amanda Septimo and Nathalia Fernandez as they rallied for climate jobs and justice.  The event was organized by THE POINT CDC, TREEage, a youth climate activist organization and the Jewish Climate Action Network NYC, a faith based climate organization.

“For many years we have accepted the reality that air quality and climate issues have to come at the expense of industry,” said Septimo, who is a Hunts Point resident. “We have to begin prioritizing the south Bronx over the dollars made on its back.”

Septimo explained she has seen the effects of the poor air quality and pollutants on family and friends. No one should have to struggle because of where they live, she stressed.

In the Bronx, these laws, if enacted, would mean significant, community-led investment in infrastructure to reduce emissions and reverse high asthma rates, through such measures as reducing harmful truck exhaust and retrofitting homes, schools and other community institutions.’

The CCIA would also fund energy rebates, community projects, such as tenant-owned solar, in frontline communities, public transit and efficiency for public housing and schools and the transition of fossil-dependent workers and communities.

One person who experiences the poor health conditions in the south Bronx every day is 17-year–old Diara Mbaye. Mbaye is a member of Activists Coming to Inform Our Neighborhood, ACTION, a youth leadership program at THE POINT CDC focusing on environmental and social justice issues in the South Bronx.

After seeing family members and friends struggle with breathing and accessing quality healthy food throughout her childhood, Mbaye hopes the CCIA gets approved.

“We live near the largest food market in the United States, but we live in a food insecure area,” she explained. “I’m here to support the CCIA because if this bill passes the next generation of Bronx youth will not have to live through what I experienced.”

Diara Mbaye, a member of Activists Coming to Inform Our Neighborhood speaks at the rally. Photo by Jason Cohen