Fall 2021 Racism, Covid and Climate Change: Negotiating the Effects of Interlocking Pandemics

The Ithaca Green New Deal: A Vehicle for Equity, Justice and Sustainable Prosperity

Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres, Director of Sustainability, City of Ithaca
Monday, Nov. 1, 6pm-8pm
via Zoom

This series explores the intersecting effects of three ongoing pandemics: systemic racism, Covid-19, and climate change. In the wake of mass mobilizations against systemic racism led by Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x and Asian people, the nation has been forced to reckon with the persistence of racial violence across its policies, institutions, and social relationships. The devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately ravaged communities of color, while the global distribution of vaccines has abandoned the Global South and other impoverished nations. The intensification of climate disasters across the world—from hurricanes, wildfires, record heat waves, droughts, and floods—reveal that those who are most vulnerable often pay the highest price, and that there is an urgent need for climate justice. These interlocking pandemics glaringly illuminate the urgent need to innovate new approaches to healing, restoration, and justice. This discussion series attempts to not only articulate the complex dimensions of these pandemics but to consider people’s efforts to create more just ways of relating to people, land, and resources.

Biography: Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres is the Director of Sustainability for the City of Ithaca, where he leads the implementation of the Ithaca Green New Deal, including the City’s Net-Zero 2030 and Justice50 strategies. Prior to joining the City of Ithaca, he spent 12 years assisting Latin American countries develop innovation and climate change legislation, sponsored by USAID and the US State Department, and providing technical assistance for the design, implementation and financing of long-term climate change and climate justice projects, sponsored by the UN Industrial Development Organization, the IFC-World Bank and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. 

He is the founder of GreenMomentum, a market-intelligence and innovation firm focused on climate change and clean technology, as well as Cleantech Challenge and Cleantech Labs, the largest cleantech and hard-tech business incubators in Latin America.  

Since 2010, he led an ambitious climate justice program in Latin America, for which he was recognized as Champion of Change by President Obama in 2012 and by the White House Office of Science and Technology in 2016.  

Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres is the former Chairman of the Latin America and Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy (LAC-CORE) and Chairman of the Energy Working Group at the Mexico -United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC), sponsored by the US Commerce and US State Departments. Currently, he is the co-chair of the NYS Climate Impacts Assessment, Society and Economy technical working group. 

He holds a first degree in Computer Engineering, a master’s degree in Computer Science and a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from University College London.