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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 53   Number 2 Spring 2020

Environment and Justice

Edited by Manuel Riemer, Wilfrid Laurier University

Announcing Environment and Justice Interest Group Action Teams

Written by Carlie D. Trott, University of Cincinnati and Kai Reimer-Watts, Wilfrid Laurier University

On Monday, February 10th, 2020 thirteen members of the Environment and Justice (E+J) Interest Group convened online to discuss action plans for 2020. Since September of 2019, we have been exploring the launch of new action teams— subgroups of E+J members who will work collaboratively on projects falling under the mission of the interest group, “to promote research, teaching, and action related to global climate change and environmental degradation, with a focus on environmental justice, particularly how environmental change affects and often perpetuates social inequality.” Planning for action teams began in fall 2019. To formulate action ideas, Kai Reimer-Watts and Carlie Trott (co-Chairs) administered a survey with E+J members in November. By December, the group began to zero in on a handful of projects that were appealing to small groups of E+J members. We wanted to take this opportunity to summarize action opportunities below. In the following sections, we describe the focus and intentions of the action teams as well as how to get involved. Please join us!

Climate Justice Advocacy Day (APA, SPSSI, and SCRA Collaborative Effort)

SCRA is joining with several of the APA Divisions for Social Justice to hold a Policy Workshop & Advocacy Day on the topic of climate justice. The two-day event will be held in Washington, DC, on August 4-5, 2020, immediately preceding the 2020 APA Convention. Representatives of the Environment + Justice Interest Group and Public Policy Council are supporting planning tasks, led by Division 9, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). A limited number of attendee slots will be available for members of sponsoring divisions. Attendees will be trained and provided with materials and logistical support to meet with their elected Members of Congress. Stay tuned for additional details via the listserv! By joining this action team, possible contributions include developing materials to be distributed at the event. To express your interest in joining, please contact the E+J co-Chairs (contact information below).

Virtual Conference Attendance Toolkit

 In an era when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that global greenhouse gas emissions need to decline by roughly 45% over the next 10 years in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, it is clearly incumbent upon us as CP practitioners who care about environmental justice to do our part in this effort by helping to reduce or eliminate avoidable emissions wherever possible. The idea for a ‘virtual conference attendance toolkit’ grew out of the recognition that in today's era of growing inequality, precarity, big tech and global climate change, having an attractive option to attend a conference virtually just makes sense. Academic conferences themselves can have substantial environmental footprints, a large portion of which may often be the result of the many plane flights associated with their attendance. Plane flights have much greater emissions than most other forms of transit yet are sometimes the only way to access a conference for those coming from longer distances.

In addition, we know that conference attendance can often be exclusive and expensive, and that a virtual attendance option can be one way to increase the diversity of voices able to access a conference, hence enriching the overall conversation. While there will of course continue to be unique value in attending conferences in-person, in today's era we should also be increasing the value and attractiveness of virtual attendance - helping to make this a more attractive option for conference-goers when considering their range of options. This is a project that could offer both significant environmental and justice benefits. For anyone interested to support, please reach out to Kai Reimer-Watts at reim0490@mylaurier.ca.

SCRA Policy Position Statement on Climate Justice

In 2020, the E+J Interest Group plans to launch an action team to write a Policy Position Statement around the topic of Climate Justice. Policy Position Statements are a way for SCRA as an organization to share its perspective on “pressing social issues and matters of public health and well-being.” The statement will summarize research and knowledge on the topic of climate justice and provide recommendations to policymakers and the public. Policy Position Statements go through a number of levels of review, including by APA, and are published in the American Journal of Community Psychology (AJCP). For a recent example of a widely-acclaimed Policy Position Statement see the open access AJCP article, “Statement on the Effects of Deportation and Forced Separation on Immigrants, their Families, and Communities” (SCRA, 2018). For anyone interested in joining this action team, please reach out to Carlie Trott at carlie.trott@uc.edu.

Mapping Climate & Environmental Justice Work by SCRA Members

Understanding the scope and scale of existing work within professional networks is always a challenge, especially for those working in the trenches on complex issues of climate- and environmental justice (CJ/EJ). This project aims to make getting a sense of current work - and future interest in collaboration - easier for SCRA members and affiliates. To do this, we are building surveys and geospatial information systems that will allow us to track and visualize SCRA affiliate CJ/EJ projects around the world. To start, we hope to gather information on who is doing CJ/EJ work, where they are working (and would like to work in the future), what the nature of their work is, and what sort of interdisciplinary supplementation these projects require. Based on this foundation, we hope to provide SCRA members and their collaborators (present and future) with a more robust basis for understanding current efforts in the field as well as gaps in the CJ/EJ action landscape. In this, we draw inspiration from the work at SSEER, the Social Science Extreme Events Research network, run by Lori Peek at the Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado - Boulder, whose efforts can be viewed here: https://converge.colorado.edu/research-networks/sseer/researchers-map. For anyone interested to support, please reach out to Trevor Even at trevorleven@gmail.com.

Looking Ahead

Over the coming months, we expect to launch these new action teams, so please look out for emails to the SCRA listserv. Once action teams are formed, additional communication will take place on the E+J listserv, so please email Jean Hill (jeanhill@scra27.org) if you would like to be added. (Note that action teams will also be encouraged to communicate independently between E+J Interest Group calls to continue progress forward as needed for their particular ongoing work. Also note that the level of commitment required for any one of these action projects varies, and individual contributions can be worked out in conversation with other members of a particular action team.) Finally, to say hello, ask questions, or to join the E+J Interest Group, please feel free to reach out to Carlie Trott at carlie.trott@uc.edu or Kai Reimer-Watts at reim0490@mylaurier.ca.

References

A Policy Statement by the Society for Community Research and Action: Division 27 of the American Psychological Association. (2018). Statement on the effects of deportation and forced separation on immigrants, their families, and communities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 62(1-2), 3-12. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12256

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (Report). Incheon, Republic of Korea: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC). 8 October 2018.