“For far too long, people of color have been at the bottom of the pile”: Why black churches are embracing the clean energy revolution

Rev. Ambrose Carroll explains why black churches are moving to the forefront of the environmental justice movement

"For far too long, people of color have been at the bottom of the pile": Why black churches are embracing the clean energy revolution

Low-income and communities of color are on the front lines of climate change. They have, for that matter, been disproportionately shouldering the burden of our reliance on dirty energy since the beginning: nearly 40 percent of the people living and breathing in the vicinity of coal-fired power plants are people of color; not unrelatedly, asthma rates for African Americans are 35 percent higher than they are for Caucasians.

Fighting climate change, and the energy revolution that doing so requires, is for many such communities a question of environmental justice. It’s also, Rev. Abrose Carroll tells Salon, an incredible opportunity.

Carroll is the founder of Green the Church, a movement that’s “tapping into the power and purpose of the black church” as a moral and social leader on climate issues. It’s a project of Green for All, the organization founded by Van Jones to promote a renewable energy economy while simultaneously lifting people out of poverty, by empowering them to become a part of that charge.

This past week, African American faith leaders from around the country gathered for a three-day summit in Chicago. In the lead-up to the gathering, Salon spoke with Ambrose about why the climate movement needs the black church — and how the black community is poised to benefit from the changes our planet so desperately requires. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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