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Fire Drill Friday with Jane Fonda and friends

Jane Fonda has been asking us to flex our muscles for decades, and now she’s asking us to use our brains.

Every Friday for the past two months, she’s been hosting Fire Drill Friday – a rolling protest calling for effective climate action in Washington, DC. Before each of these protests, she hosts a teach-in focusing on a different aspect of the climate crisis, highlighting voices and efforts from across the climate justice movement.

Last night Jane spoke with our very own Maude Barlow, Mary Grant from Food and Water Watch, and Jessica Loya from green Latinos. This powerhouse panel talked about water as a human right, and how water issues connect with climate justice and the Green New Deal. 

Watch the whole thing here.

Some key takeaways from this teach in:

Water is life

Drinking water and sanitation are necessary and mandatory for health and dignity. The UN has declared water and sanitation as a human right, and yet hundreds of  millions of people around the world don’t have access to clean water. This is a global issue, and that includes Canada and the US. As we learned in this teach-in from Jessica Loya, there are communities in south Texas that have never had running water or sewage systems. There are First Nations communities in Canada that have been on boil water advisories for decades, many of them directly due to toxic and climate-forcing extractive projects. 

As Maude Barlow says, the impacts of water issues are not democratic, they fall on some communities more than others, women and indigenous people in particular. The privatization of water takes control over our lifeblood out of the hands of the people and into the hands of private interests focused primarily on accumulating wealth. 

Threats to water and climate change are connected

Fracking, big agriculture, mining, extraction and sale of water – these are just some examples of how water is abused and polluted, and also contribute to the climate crisis. These are also examples of water privatization; privatization doesn’t only mean the sale of bottled water, but the private control over water in all forms – groundwater, surface water, drinking water, and water infrastructure. 

As Maude says, there is a “mighty contest” about privatizing and making money from water. Whoever controls water will be very powerful and very wealthy – do we want this power to but under public control, or private?  

A Green New Deal can and must include water as a human right

As Jessica from Green Latinos said, we need justice for communities that can’t turn on the tap. The Green New Deal needs to ensure access to clean drinking water and sanitation for all people, and prioritize the racialized communities that have been without safe water for so long. The Green New Deal needs to hold fossil fuel companies accountable both to their greenhouse gas emissions and political interference in public policy, as well as their of polluting drinking water. Fossil fuel companies have lied about the impacts of fracking and other practices, and now many people, primarily racialized communities, don’t have clean water. 

Mary Grant from Food and Water Watch pointed out that the US’s water infrastructure is crumbling after decades of neglect by government (and Canada’s water systems are in need of serious upgrades too). The Green New Deal could include support for workers exiting the fossil fuel industry and moving into public water upgrades. 

These women’s brilliance cannot be captured in a short blog – please check out the recording to hear from Jessica Loya, Mary Grant, and Maude Barlow yourself!