Extreme storms. Floods. Heat waves. As the climate warms in the U.S., some parts of the South are feeling the effects first and worst.

So Leo Woodberry, pastor of Kingdom Living Temple in Florence, South Carolina, says that as the country acts to limit global warming, “It’s very important that the voices of frontline communities … that our voices are heard in terms of solutions and implementation.”

Woodberry helped spearhead a policy platform called Southern Communities for a Green New Deal. It’s backed by more than 150 organizations.

It calls on politicians to adopt a holistic approach to climate action that empowers marginalized communities in the south.

“We very much advocate for community control … when it comes towards building a clean renewable energy economy,” Woodberry says.

For example, small-scale solar projects can provide people with lower bills and more of a say in how they get their energy.

The platform also calls for protecting the region’s forests from logging and developing nature-based local industries instead.

Woodberry says the country has an opportunity now to limit global warming, while also empowering vulnerable communities.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media