Poor and Working Class People Deserve Access to Affordable and Sustainable Energy

As we bid farewell to the hot summer months and welcome the arrival of fall, North Carolina residents can attest to the scorching summers that can often feel unbearable. With the intensifying heat waves caused by climate change, it has become increasingly crucial to find ways to stay cool and comfortable in our homes. However, for poor and working-class people like us, rising energy bills present a significant challenge, making it difficult to afford staying cool.

Climate change is a result of failed policy and unrestrained corporate power and greed. And as a result its impacts are arriving on our doorstep. While the rich and powerful have profited off polluting our communities, working people are most disastrously impacted. Research has revealed that those of us who have been marginalized, particularly people of color, are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, factors such as limited access to healthcare and proper nutrition exacerbate these health issues. Unfortunately, we also are the very communities that also face higher vulnerability to heat-related health complications. This is inherently unjust.

Amidst these challenges, there is good news on the horizon. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds have created an opportunity for us to alleviate the burdens put on us  by way of grants, rebates and other funds that we can leverage to help our families and communities.

 Many of us live in older homes and maintaining them on limited incomes is hard. One significant thing that IRA funds can be used for is to help us repair and upgrade the heating and cooling systems in our homes to be more energy-efficient. Families like ours could also use the funds to install insulation, windows, and doors to help us mitigate the impact of climate change. This, in turn, leads to lower energy bills, as well as more comfortable living environments.Furthermore, let’s not overlook the environmental benefits, as energy-efficient homes can help reduce carbon emissions and the conservation of natural resources. All of which help to actively combat the ongoing climate crisis, which is impacting all of us.

Access to affordable and sustainable energy is a fundamental human right. Being protected against the impacts of climate change is a right. Making sure that we use our collective power to steer the IRA funds to meet the needs of poor and working class communities is the work we have ahead of us.

Across various races, social classes, backgrounds, and zip codes, the majority of us make every effort to support and care for our families and communities. However, the actions of big business and failed policies have resulted in a severe climate crisis that is now affecting our daily lives. But if we utilize the tools available to us, poor and working class communities like ours can start to fight back. If you wish to join in creating a broad, diverse, and working class solution to address climate change in North Carolina, please consider reaching out to our climate justice campaigner, Jennifer Eison, at [email protected]. She can provide you with more information on our efforts to establish a fair and equitable climate.