Fossil Fuels Are Increasing COVID-19 Cases

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of fossil fuel divestment continues to become increasingly clear. July brought numerous pipeline cancellations, fossil fuel company bankruptcies, and a sobering study correlating EPA pollution rollbacks with COVID-19 infections and deaths. A working paper, from American University, demonstrates that counties with Toxic Release Inventory sites polluted on average 13% more since the rollback of regulations. The resulting increase in pollution accounts for 38.8% of the increase in COVID-19 infections and 19.1% of deaths. Majority non-white communities experience more severe COVID-19 outbreaks. This inequality likely results from consistently higher pollution levels over time

Key pollutants known to increase COVID-19 risk are prevalent emissions from fossil fuel combustion and processing: Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, PM 10, and ozone. PM 10 can carry COVID-19 genetic material. In addition, it increases the sensitivity of receptors used by COVID-19 to infect host cells. PM 2.5 and ozone are strongly correlated with increased respiratory illness and death from diseases such as COVID-19. Knowing this, we must renew our divestment efforts. We must continue to show up and call for CalSTRS, CalPERS, and individual banking divestment. Every divestment matters. In addition, we must support bills such as California’s AB 345 which increases oil well setbacks to 2500ft from critical areas like homes and schools.

Together with our allies and the shifting fossil fuel economy, we can topple the carbon economy. Communities for a Better Environment is fighting for oil refinery decommissioning. Our youth partners at Earth Guardians and Youth vs Apocalypse are fighting for divestment and climate justice. A recent study demonstrated that the carbon economy can be toppled by as few as 10-20% of investors divesting their accounts from fossil fuels. Each person, account, and pension matters. Speak up for a just transition from fossil fuels.

1 Comment

  1. john kenney on August 15, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Miriam, good article. I’ll hit up your links after this.
    I’m hitting this as watching the keynote on Saturday. Keep seeing your name in various climate panels but I can’t get the app to download on my desktop, soo… Saw you again today at the last panel Social Media for Climate Justice, or something like that, then looked you up.
    I’ve worked with you guys and Youth Vs…, and Sunflower Alliance, No Coal in ….
    I was chair of the NOIV chapter for a while, but we died down after the deep water port (ORCEM) was finally shut down here in Vallejo.
    Anyhow, wanted to reach out to you & your org if I can… Eerily quiet during this COVID thing…
    Thanks for the great work.
    Thanks John Kenney, Mayoral candidate, Vallejo, CA