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Student Energy’s Commitment to Addressing Racial Injustice in the Sustainable Energy Transition

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Student Energy’s Commitment to Addressing Racial Injustice in the Sustainable Energy Transition

Links to donate, petitions, and anti-racism resource guides can be found at the bottom of this post.

The widespread activism and collective organizing in the United States, Canada, and now globally over the past several days has brought racial injustice to the forefront of digital media and discourse. This movement is not new: Black activists and organizations, particularly young people, have been organizing for decades to dismantle and rebuild inherently racist and unjust legal, educational, and governance systems that give rise to police brutality and state violence. However, this moment calls for all organizations regardless of sector to learn, support and amplify movements led by Black activists, and to encourage their network to do the same.

While systemic racism and police violence in the United States may dominate news media coverage, we cannot ignore that systemic racism and state violence are prevalent in Canada as well. Ongoing violence against Black and Indigenous communities in Canada is something we must address even after this moment, even in spaces or situations where it may not be comfortable to do so.

In the energy industry and in the energy and climate advocacy space, there is an underlying, and often unnamed issue: While some organizations do advocate for justice and equity as an integral part of a sustainable energy future, there are countless others whose advocacy is limited only to technological and policy solutions to reduce emissions and achieve economic growth. These incomplete approaches aim to address the climate crisis without explicitly addressing the systemic racism and injustice present in the energy system, in the climate crisis, and in the environmental movement. As Student Energy’s vision is to empower young people to create an energy future that is both sustainable and equitable, it's extremely important to start this conversation with our fellow organizations in the energy space.

Student Energy’s Theory of Change outlines our values as an organization, and these values are centered on listening to and empowering young people and embedding equity and climate justice as an integral part of the energy transition. Recognizing that we are often in spaces where we are one of few youth-led organizations represented, raising critical questions on justice and equity in relation to the energy transition and climate change is an important part of our daily work. Here are some immediate and long-term actions we are taking as an organization to ensure that we are also explicitly incorporating anti-racist principles and advocacy to the work that we do:

  • We are researching and developing a framework to embed anti-racism and equity into how we design and collaborate on programs with our partners. This framework will serve to increase the accessibility of our programs to BIPOC youth, resourcing for BIPOC youth-led sustainable energy initiatives, and support youth-led work with direct impacts on human rights in energy such as universal access, health and safety, energy in disaster responses, anti-discrimination in energy, community and Indigenous rights, and the relationship between conflict and energy.
  • We will be adding additional anti-racism resources to our Communicating Justice and Equity in the Energy Transition training that is a part of staff onboarding. This resource is an introduction to the concepts of energy and climate justice, and explores historical and ongoing inequity across all aspects of the global energy system. For a condensed introduction to energy justice, including a case study of anti-Blackness in the energy system, please see our social media resource here.
  • The impacts of climate change, the economic downturn, and the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be disproportionately felt by BIPOC communities. As we are an organization based in Canada, we will be advocating for Canada’s climate plans and COVID-19 recovery efforts to address systemic racial and economic inequity and include plans on how the future clean economy will not just be sustainable, but equitable.

Read more about what it means to have a just recovery from COVID-19 here.

  • We will continue to seek out, work with, compensate and recommend Black-led organizations, speakers, and service providers.
  • We will hold space in the workplace far beyond the next several weeks to continue to learn together about what anti-racist advocacy looks like for Student Energy, for the global climate movement, and for our team as individuals.

Finally, we want to emphasize that Student Energy’s conversations on equity and anti-racism in the climate and energy space will continue well beyond this current moment. We are committed to ongoing learning as an organization, and taking action to address anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and other forms of racism in the climate and energy space. We are committed to addressing economic and power inequities for young people globally and at an intersectional level, whether that means reducing barriers to access leadership-development and educational opportunities, accessing decision-making spaces, or being better equipped to implement appropriate climate solutions for their communities.

If you are able to, one effective way to take action no matter where you are is by donating to support directly affected individuals, community organizations, and frontline organizers. On Instagram, we shared links to donate to the following organizations and fundraisers that are seeking donations at this time:

·         Black Lives Matter

·         NAACP Legal Defense Fund

·         Black Visions Collective

·         Reclaim the Block

·         Official George Floyd Memorial Fund

·         Justice for Regis GoFundMe

Please see the following lists for more organizations to support and ways to take action – these are continuously updated:

·         Support funds, anti-racism resource guides, petitions and ways to take action (includes Canada-focused actions)

·         Support bail funds and organizers

·         Support harmed Black-owned businesses