‘A call to arms as a woman’: How Adrianna Quintero keeps fighting for climate change

climateone.org

Energy Foundation’s senior director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Adrianna Quintero, sat down with Front Page Live in an exclusive interview to discuss climate change, the power of information, and her “passion for informing and engaging the Latino community in the environmental fights we are all facing.”

Quintero defines herself as a “committed fighter for sending the message” about climate change “especially to the Latinx community.” She defined the movement as one that relied on information. “Information is power,” she told Front Page Live. “And if we’re not able to have that information, then we can’t really protect ourselves, much less our future generations.

‘I was horrified’

Quintero got her professional start in the climate world at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). As an attorney for NRDC, she was working on “litigation around pesticides and farmworkers.” But her drive to become an “environmentalist” has roots in her childhood. She can pinpoint the exact moment her fight for climate began.

As a young girl living in Columbia, Quintero attended a field trip to the Tequendama Falls, “ I could see the river as we left the city and smell the pollution. And as we went down the road I could see more and more foam forming on the river. And then it seemed to clear. But then, I saw children playing in the water, the same water I knew was horribly polluted. And I was horrified.”

She connects the experience as a child seeing the effects of pollution to her professional career in the climate realm because joining the fight is really about “awareness.” Many people don’t know about the things impacting their lives and their health because they can’t see them. We need that information to “protect ourselves” Quintero says.

Information is power

Quintero believes we need to talk about climate in a way “that was more accessible to people.”

When I think of information, I think of it as a tool. And it’s how we use our tools that really make the difference.

“It’s a matter of connecting the dots simply,” she said to Front Page Live, and show the effects that are already happening: wildfires, heatwaves, pollution, hurricanes.

Feminism and climate change

Quintero addressed the importance of feminism and environmental activism as going hand in hand. “We need to respect our planet the way that we as women need and deserve to be respected.”

There’s an absolute need for women to be extremely active in the climate movement. Women around the world are going to be facing the impacts of climate change first, no matter what.

“Women are vulnerable to the effects of climate change in many ways,” she points to displacement as an effect of climate change that will cause women to be more vulnerable to other types of violence, and notes that “women of color are extremely impacted.”

She also noted that women who are still overwhelmingly responsible for caregiving, have to deal with the impacts of the pollution the causes climate change like rising childhood asthma rates. “If a child is sick with asthma, they are going to be staying home,” and in most cases, it will be the matriarch of the family tending to the child’s care, which can lead to lost work hours, and economic impacts.

The government needs to change in order to address how climate change affects marginalized women, said Quintero. “I think the number one thing is to put women at the center of the conversation. So much of what happens in government is decided by a privileged few. And generally, women are underrepresented, even in those rooms.”

Quintero points to the accomplishments of women like Christiana Figueres and many other women from community organizers to high-level politicians to engineers, who are playing critical roles in solving climate change. Figueres is the Costa Rican diplomat that played a key role in the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and helped build international strategy.

The next generation

Quintero offered her personal motivations for staying in the fight. She admitted that because of the scale of the issues it can often be “disheartening,” but there are a couple of things that keep her going. The first is “the knowledge that the people suffering the most are the ones taking action.” Specifically, the Latinx community which is in “extremely supportive of climate action around the world.”

The other motivator are her teenagers! “The joy of looking at my children” makes Quintero want to fight for their future, but she also draws inspiration from her children. She describes how this new generation of kids understands the fight in a different way, they start from a place of belief — with the stance that “climate change obviously matters and change must happen.”

Between the support of the Latinx community and the example set by her teenagers, Quintero is energized for the fight which she calls “our biggest battle.”

We can win if we all join in the fight and make it happen.

We have to “believe it is possible and we can do better,” Quintero reminds us. And we need to hold accountable “self-serving” polluting corporations and politicians who “are willing to put their selfish interests above everyone else’s well-being.“ After all, “no amount of money” can ever justify the destruction caused by climate change.

Join the fight

The issues we’re facing require action at a policy level. Although it may be hard to see yourself in the fight against climate change, you have more power than you think. You can start by being conscientious in your choice of leaders, consider what kind of world you want to leave behind for your children and grandchildren.

Change starts small. There is a movement spreading across the country right now — mothers, just like Adrianna Quintero, are looking to the future (and following the lead of the younger generations!)

Voting is the only way that we can get the widespread change needed to make a better future. And today is the last day that you can be a part of that change! If you haven’t already, please, get out and VOTE!

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