It is a well-known truth that the climate crisis does not and will not affect everyone equally, as factors such as gender, race, and socio-economic status make certain communities significantly more vulnerable to the increasing threats of climate change. Global inequalities, rooted in structural patriarchy, colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism, continue to place people of the global majority, and specifically women, at risk. In particular, African American/Black/ African Diaspora, Indigenous, Latina/Chicana, and low-income women and their communities experience disproportionate harm due to the consequences from pollution, environmental degradation, and the climate crisis.
Fossil fuel activity results in the pollution and degradation of air, water, and land. The essential nature of the fossil fuel industry is extractive and is not possible without the contamination of the Earth and marginalized communities. Due to foundational and systemic racism, unabated capitalism based on endless material growth on a finite planet, and ongoing settler-colonial policies, fossil fuel activity occurs disproportionately in communities of color and on or near Indigenous lands. Due to institutional patriarchy and male dominated power structures, sexism, and traditional capitalist labor valuations, the pollution and destruction from fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure disproportionately impacts women in communities of color and low-income communities.
This report addresses the gender and race-specific health and safety impacts as well as human
and Indigenous rights issues of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure in the United States and selected parts of Canada; issues that have been sorely neglected in the discourse regarding fossil fuel extraction impacts in the past. The report also exposes the role that financial institutions, including banks, asset managers, and insurance companies, play in preserving and perpetuating negative gender and racial impacts due to the financing, insuring, and investing in fossil fuel companies. Based on analysis and evidence that links fossil fuel activity to women’s health, safety, and rights, the report advocates for financial institutions to divest from and cease insuring fossil fuel companies.