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Past events

Off the Rails: Chemicals, Communities, and ‘Bomb Trains’

In the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, many who live in railroad towns are wondering what sorts of materials are being transported through their communities and whether something similar could happen to them. Many are examining the common practices, oversights, and failures that led to the derailment in East Palestine, while others are looking beyond the Ohio disaster and shining a critical light on the industries that require the use of such dangerous, often extractive, petrochemicals in the first place.

Grist hosted a conversation about “bomb trains,” and the communities put at risk by the transport of hazardous chemicals.

Katherine Lanpher, is an award winning editor, currently working as a Senior Editor at Grist. Prior to joining Grist, Katherine worked as interim editor-in-chief at High Country News, Senior Online Features Editor for Al Jazeera America in New York, and as a past host of “America Abroad,” a monthly documentary on foreign policy issues distributed by PRI/NPR, with nearly a million listeners.

John McCracken is a former Midwest Reporting Fellow for Grist and winner of a 2022 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award. He reports on industrial pollution and how climate change is impacting agriculture, culture, and rural life in the Midwest and beyond.

Justin Mikulka is a research fellow at New Consensus working on investigating the best solutions and policies to facilitate the energy transition. Justin most recently was an investigative journalist covering the finances of the energy transition and is the author of the book Bomb Trains: How Industry Greed and Regulatory Failure Put the Public at Risk. He has a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University.

Yessenia Funes is an environmental journalist currently the climate director for Atmos, an independent nonprofit magazine covering climate and culture. She has also been published in The Guardian, Vogue, HuffPost, and more.

How can we build up the workforce to ‘electrify everything’?

The race to “electrify everything” is picking up. President Joe Biden’s signature climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, signed in August, contains billions of dollars to help Americans electrify their homes, buy electric vehicles, and install solar panels. Meanwhile, cities all over the country, including New York, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco are requiring that new buildings run only on electricity. To reach our climate goals the United States must prepare for a monumental increase in electricity use. The problem is, electrical contractors are already in short supply. Residential electricians are swamped with calls and struggling to find experienced people to hire. The schools tasked with training the next generation of electricians are tight on funds and short on teachers.

Grist’s Executive Editor Katherine Bagley hosted a conversation with Dr. Janell Hills; Director of Workforce Programs at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), Adewale OgunBadejo; VP of Workforce Development at GRID Alternatives, Emily Pontecorvo; Staff writer at Grist and Nathanael Johnson; electrician and former environmental journalist.

Loss, Damage, and Progress: Unpacking COP27

Last month, climate leaders from across the globe gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27). There, delegates reached a historic agreement to set up a fund for “loss and damage” to assist regions feeling the greatest impacts of the now-unavoidable effects of climate change. Other measures, however, stalled out, delivering little progress in adaptation funding or phasing out fossil fuels.

Grist CEO Nikhil Swaminathan hosted a conversation between Grist 50 Fixers Jade Begay, Climate Justice Campaign Director of NDN Collective; Moñeka de Oro, Just Transition Curriculum and Policy Fellow with Climate Justice Alliance; and Adrien Salazar, Policy Director at Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, to unpack their experiences at COP27. The event featured an engaging discussion on what it was like to be at the gathering, what was accomplished, and where COP27 fell short.

Climate Solutions From the Frontlines of Environmental Justice

As humanity tackles the threat of climate change, it must move with urgency to ensure a liveable future. At the same time, it must also protect the lives and livelihoods of those on the frontline of the crisis today — who suffer unduly from the pollution that contributes to warming, as well as the impacts of a changing climate. Leaders from frontline communities throughout the United States have worked hard to ensure a voice for their neighbors and have also developed a framework for evaluating solutions to the climate crisis that are just and equitable.

In this discussion, leaders from across the country will discuss the framework of centering equity and justice and tackling the root causes of the climate crisis as society moves away from fossil fuels, share real-life examples of how solutions that meet that framework operate on the ground, and warn of what they see as “false solutions,” which rather than benefiting vulnerable communities will ensure they remain sacrifice zones.

Law of the Land: Climate Justice on the Hill

Grist CEO Brady Walkinshaw will sit down with Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey, who co-introduced the Green New Deal, for a live conversation about the fight to bring climate justice to the halls of Congress.

Growing climate justice: The recipe for a just and sustainable future

Principal of Black Futures Lab and co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, Alicia Garza; food justice activist and co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm, Leah Penniman; and Grist CEO, Brady Piñero Walkinshaw convened for a discussion on food sovereignty, climate justice, and racial justice.

Climate justice and racial justice are inextricably linked. But how can they evolve from protest rallying cry to real results for the communities most impacted by climate change and environmental harm — particularly communities of color? We heard it first from folks creating change in the world.

Sponsorship Spotlight: This conversation was brought to you in partnership with Nature’s Logic, 100% natural pet food

The Year Ahead: American Leadership on Climate

White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Grist CEO Brady Piñero Walkinshaw held a discussion about the Biden administration’s plans to tackle the climate crisis in 2021.

After four years of environmental rollbacks, White House climate action is entering a new chapter. But what will it look like in practice? How will the Biden administration set climate policy priorities, address environmental justice, and what needs to happen for the US to hit its ambitious net-zero emissions goal by 2050?

Sponsorship Spotlight: This conversation was brought to you in partnership with Nature’s Logic, 100% natural pet food

Climate. Justice. Solutions. Reframing the Climate Story

Grist CEO Brady Piñero Walkinshaw, Grist Executive Editor Nikhil Swaminathan, and Fix Director Lisa Garcia had a conversation about Grist’s new focus, the climate opportunity in 2021, and how stories can change the climate crisis.

Sponsorship Spotlight: This conversation was brought to you in partnership with Nature’s Logic, 100% natural pet food

The Uproot Project Launch

The Uproot Project, a new network by and for environmental journalists of color, hosted a launch event featuring a discussion with Julian Brave NoiseCat, award-winning journalist and VP of Data for Progress, and Yessenia Funes of Atmos.