Actress, writer and activist Jane Fonda, whose protests have landed her in jail more than once, blamed the worst of climate change on racism during an interview to promote her new movie on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
Fonda appeared with her “80 for Brady” co-stars Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field on the talk show this week, where the movie stars were asked to reflect on what motivated them to get involved in social issues.
“Well, you know, you can take anything — sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, whatever, the war,” Fonda said. “And if you really get into it, and study it and learn about it and the history of it, everything’s connected. There’d be no climate crisis if it wasn’t for racism.”
Moreno asked Fonda to explain, and she replied, “Where would they put the s—? Where would they put the poison and the pollution?
“They’re not gonna put it in Bel Air. They’ve got to find some place where poor people or indigenous people or people of color are living,” continued Fonda, herself worth an estimated $200 million after a six-decade career in entertainment. “Put it there. They can’t fight back. And that’s why a big part of the climate movement now has to do with climate justice.”
“‘There’d be no climate crisis if it wasn’t for racism.’ ”
Fonda’s not wrong about overdue efforts to address disproportionate pollution risk for underserved U.S. communities that often experience zoning overlap with emissions-spewing industries, landfills, or they remain in the shadow of the heavily-trafficked highways built directly through established neighborhoods.
The Biden-passed spending law known as the Inflation Reduction Act included the largest effort for combating climate change to date, including $60 billion toward environmental justice, such as incentives for communities to upgrade to electric appliances and other efforts.
Read: America’s ports have a pollution problem. All-electric short-haul trucking is one fix.
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Globally, for the first time ever, rich nations, including a top-polluting U.S., will pay for the climate-change damage inflicted upon poorer nations. A deal called “loss and damage” in conference shorthand was struck during 2022’s annual United Nations’ gathering on climate change, but it took some wrangling to get the U.S. to sign on.
These smaller economies are often the source of the fossil fuels
and other raw materials behind the developed world’s modern conveniences and technological advancement, including many practices responsible for Earth-warming emissions. And yet the developing world shoulders the worst of the droughts, deadly heat, ruined crops and eroding coastlines that take lives and eat into economic growth.
Fonda’s climate activism already made headlines in October 2019 when she was one of 16 people arrested on the Capitol steps at a Washington, D.C., rally. The actress was charged with “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.”
Fonda, who is 85, said she’s been inspired to rally against environmental harms by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who turned 20 earlier this month and began her activism with a solo sit-in in front of Swedish parliament in 2018, when she was 15.
Related: Greta Thunberg: It’s ‘absurd’ that we think the oil companies causing the climate crisis have a solution to it
And: Read Greta Thunberg’s killer comeback to former kickboxer Andrew Tate’s tweet about his ‘enormous emissions’
But she’s got a long history of activism. Fonda was given the infamous nickname “Hanoi Jane” after posing atop an anti-aircraft gun during her 1972 protest visit to North Vietnam.