11 Black Climate Voices to Follow Right Now

Climate protesters holding signs and megaphones at a climate rally.
  • Jan 28, 2022

All around the world, millions of people are taking action to help our planet and reduce the impacts of climate change. We want to highlight some of the Black leaders in the renewable energy and climate justice fields who are working to combat climate change and systemic environmental racism. Here are some of the many Black climate leaders and activists who are leading the fight against climate change and towards climate justice:

1. Dr. Ayana Johnson is a PhD marine biologist, policy expert, and conservation strategist who works to highlight the connection between the ocean, climate change, and climate justice. She is the founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank that focuses on climate policy and the future of coastal cities, co-editor of the climate anthology All We Can Save, and co-host of the podcast How to Save a Planet. Follow her on Twitter @ayanaeliza or Instagram @ayanaeliza.

2. Isra Hirsi is the 18-year-old daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and a prominent climate activist. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and has organized hundreds of youth-led climate strikes across the country. In 2019 she was one of 6 recipients of the Brower Youth Awards, North America's top prize for bold young environmental leaders. Isra is a vocal advocate for intersectionality and diversity within the climate justice movement. Follow her on Instagram @israhirsi or Twitter @israhirsi.

3. Leah Namugerwa is a 17-year-old climate activist from Uganda who has become a prominent climate voice in her country. She participates in Fridays For Future school strikes every Friday, has led a number of tree-planting campaigns, has served as a youth delegate at COP25, and started a petition to President Museveni for Uganda to ban plastic bags. Follow her on Instagram @namugerwaleah or Twitter @NamugerwaLeah

4. Leah Thomas, also known as Green Girl Leah, is the founder and creative director of Intersectional Environmentalist. IE is a platform that highlights the connections between climate and racial justice, amplifies people of color in the environmental movement, and advocates for inclusion in environmentalism. Follow Leah on Twitter @Leahtommi or Instagram @greengirlleah, and follow Intersectional Environmentalist on Twitter @isxenviro or Instagram @intersectionalenvironmentalist

5. Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint,” is a 14-year-old from Flint, Michigan. In 2016, she wrote a letter to President Obama about Flint’s water crisis, which inspired him to travel to Flint and gave the city national attention. She now uses her platform to bring awareness to the Flint water crisis, as well as raise donations for water bottles, books, toys, and other resources for Flint residents. Follow her on Twitter @LittleMissFlint or Instagram @littlemissflint.

6. Mary Annaïse Heglar is a climate justice writer. She has served as the Director of Publications at Natural Resources Defense Council and the inaugural writer-in-residence at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. She produces a climate podcast and newsletter with environmental journalist Amy Westervelt called Hot Take, in which they look at media coverage of climate change with an intersectional lens. Follow her on Twitter @MaryHeglar

7. Michael S. Regan is the current Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. A graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, he is the first Black man and the first HBCU grad to serve as the head of the EPA. Regan has a long history of environmental advocacy and fighting for environmental justice. As the former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, he founded the state’s first Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory board. In 2021, Regan completed a “Journey to Justice” tour through Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to focus on longstanding environmental justice concerns and connect with historically marginalized communities. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_S_Regan or @EPAMichaelRegan.

8. Rhiana Gunn-Wright is a policy analyst and one of the policy architects of the Green New Deal. She helped ensure environmental justice was a priority of the Green New Deal—something that was very personal to her, having grown up on the South Side of Chicago in close proximity to air- and water-polluting industries. Currently, she serves as the Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute, where she leads research at the intersection of climate policy, public investment, and racial equity. Follow her on Twitter @rgunns.

9. Dr. Robert Bullard is known as the father of environmental justice. He has written 18 books on environmental racism and other topics such as sustainable development, urban land use, industrial facility siting, and regional equity. He is the co-founder of the HBCU Climate Change Consortium and was named one of 22 climate trailblazers and one of the 100 most influential people in climate policy. Follow him on Twitter @DrBobBullard.

10. Vanessa Nakate is a 25-year-old climate justice activist from Uganda. In January 2019, she began a strike outside the Ugandan parliament to protest climate inaction—and was the sole protester for several months. She also founded the climate action groups Youth for Future Africa, Rise Up Movement, and 1 Million Activist Stories. Vanessa has spoken at COP25 in Spain and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Follow her on Twitter @vanessa_vash or Instagram @vanessanakate1.

11. Vic Barrett is a 22-year-old climate justice activist. After his home in New York was flooded by Hurricane Sandy, he felt inspired to take action against climate change. Vic and 20 other young people decided to sue the U.S. government for its role in the climate crisis by supporting the fossil fuel industry. The ongoing case, Juliana v. United States, is based on the belief that a safe and livable climate is a constitutional right. Follow Vic on Twitter @vict_barrett or Instagram @vicbarrett_.

At CleanChoice Energy, we envision a world free of catastrophic climate change for all. We are grateful for these 11 activists and so many others who are working alongside us to make that vision a reality.