14 Environmental Justice Leaders to Follow

Climate activist at a protest
  • Aug 11, 2021

Have you heard of the phrase “environmental justice?” It’s the principle that everyone deserves a clean and healthy environment, regardless of where they live, their race, or their income. Yet some communities throughout the U.S. and around the world are disproportionately impacted by things like air pollution, water pollution, and natural disasters. Luckily, there are many activists working to address environmental injustices around the world and close to home. Here are 14 activists leading the fight for environmental justice:

1. Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), an organization that works to address environmental, economic, and health disparities such as air and water pollution in marginalized communities. She is the author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, in which she describes environmental injustices across the country, and she received the 2020 MacArthur Fellowship for Environmental Health Advocacy for bringing attention to environmental disparities in rural communities. Follow her on Twitter @CathFlowers.

2. Elizabeth Yeampierre is a Brooklyn-based climate justice leader. She is the co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance and the executive director of UPROSE, a Latino community-based organization in Brooklyn that promotes sustainability and climate justice. She was the first Latina chair appointed to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and is a member of Mayor de Blasio's Sustainability Advisory Board. Follow her on Twitter @yeampierre.

3. Isaias Hernandez is an environmentalist and eco-educator. Through social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, Isaias shares accessible environmental education content under his brand Queer Brown Vegan, focusing on a range of topics related to environmental justice. Follow him on Instagram @QueerBrownVegan or Twitter @QueerBrownVegan

4. Jade Begay is the Climate Justice Campaign Director for NDN Collective, an organization that works to empower Indigenous communities. She is also a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), a diverse group of environmental justice leaders that advises the current administration on how to address environmental injustices. Follow her on Twitter @_jadebegay and Instagram @jadethemighty.

5. Jamie Margolin is a 19-year-old Seattle native and founder of the youth climate organization Zero Hour, an intersectional movement of youth climate activists. As the Latina, Jewish daughter of a Colombian immigrant, she gave a TED talk about how climate change can be solved by addressing social injustices. Follow her on Twitter @Jamie_Margolin or Instagram @jamie_s_margolin.

6. Jerome Foster II is a 19-year-old climate activist from Washington D.C. and the youngest member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He led School Strikes for Climate outside the White House every Friday for 58 weeks in a row (before the COVID-19 pandemic hit), and he has developed virtual reality experiences to help people learn more about issues such as ocean plastic pollution, melting glaciers, and fossil fuel pollution. He has spoken about the climate crisis before the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Follow him on Twitter @JeromeFosterII or Instagram @jeromefosterii.

7. 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

8. 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 Flint national attention. Since then, she has used her platform for a number of charitable projects, including partnering with a water filtration company to help provide water filters to those facing toxic drinking water. Follow her on Twitter @LittleMissFlint or Instagram @littlemissflint.

9. Miya Yoshitani is the executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), an organization fighting for environmental, social, and economic justice, particularly for Asian immigrant and refugee communities. She has a long history in the environmental justice movement and currently serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Follow her on Twitter @miya_yosh

10. Rhiana Gunn-Wright is a policy analyst and one of the policy architects of the Green New Deal. Influenced by her personal experiences with air pollution growing up on the South Side of Chicago, she helped ensure environmental justice was a priority of the Green New Deal. She was featured in Time’s list of women leading the fight against climate change and currently serves as the Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @rgunns.

11. Dr. Robert Bullard is widely referred to as “the father of environmental justice.” He is the co-chair of National Black Environmental Justice Network and co-founder of the HBCU Climate Change Consortium, and he has written 18 books on environmental racism and other climate topics. He received the UN Environment Programme’s Lifetime Achievement award and was named one of the world’s most influential people in climate policy. Follow him on Twitter @DrBobBullard.

12. Vanessa Nakate is a 24-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.

13. Varshini Prakash is the co-founder and executive director of Sunrise Movement, a prominent climate justice organization that mobilizes young people to advocate for climate action. She was included on the 2019 Time 100 list, nominated by Governor Jay Inslee, and the 2018 Grist 50 list. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, New Yorker, Forbes, Vox, Vice, TeenVogue, BBC, and more. Follow her on Twitter @VarshPrakash.

14. 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 him 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 climate leaders and so many others who are working alongside us to make that vision a reality.

Interested in learning more about environmental justice? Check out our blog posts Why Environmental Justice Is So Important and 11 Must-Read Books on Environmental Justice!

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