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10 Years to Zero: SF and Chico Declare Emergency

This past month gave us two glimpses into our future as a planet —one where catastrophic storms destroy vulnerable cities and farmland, and one where young people self-organize a global movement of hope and solidarity. We can still choose between these futures —and we hope you’ll join us in mobilizing for a livable planet.

 Image:  https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov
Image: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

These past few weeks saw stark evidence that for the world’s most vulnerable, the nightmare of the Climate Emergency is already here. Close to 2 million people in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi are in need of assistance after Cyclone Idai, destroying Beira, a city of more than 500,000 people. Massive floods like those that devastated agriculture in the Midwestern United States this past month will become more common as global temperatures rise. Global warming will make powerful storms and the confluence of particularly dangerous conditions more frequent and more intense. These two tragedies—both hitting poor, indigenous people in the midwest and people of the Global South hardest—make clear that those who will suffer first and most deeply from climate change are not those who have benefited most from fossil fuels over the last 150 years.

Alarm bells are ringing throughout the natural world, (check out this article about disappearing glaciers) underscoring the great need for mobilization to restore a safe climate.

Youth Climate Strikes

 Image: Mark Hawkins/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Image: Mark Hawkins/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

On March 15, young people worldwide took a stand against this nightmare: An estimated 1.6 million students in over 120 countries went on strike to demand that those in power mobilize to address a crisis that threatens to swallow up their futures. Young people without the right to vote nevertheless made their voices heard at rallies in more than 2,200 towns and cities worldwide. (The New York Times documented many of these protests in photos.)

Organized by local youths in each city where they took place, through informal transnational networks and without an umbrella nonprofit, this strike demonstrated the dedication and resourcefulness of a generation that is fighting for their lives.

A key demand of the U.S. Youth Climate Strikers is a national declaration of Climate Emergency.

Climate Emergency Declarations

 Paradise, California, a small retirement community in the Chico metropolitan area, was nearly wiped off the map by wildfire on November 8, 2018. (Image: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Paradise, California, a small retirement community in the Chico metropolitan area, was nearly wiped off the map by wildfire on November 8, 2018. (Image: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Local governments continue to step up. 45 cities and municipalities in the UK, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and the United States have declared climate emergencies since March 1, 2019, including the City of San Francisco, which passed a climate emergency declaration unanimously on April 2. The city of Chico, California also passed a climate emergency declaration after last year’s devastating wildfires destroyed much of the neighboring town of Paradise in the deadliest fire in California history.

Watch a short video prepared by the Climate Emergency activists in Chico about their declaration below.

Read more about these California declarations on our blog. Also visit our Climate Emergency Declarations Campaign page for a map of declared cities and a spreadsheet listing the over 440 local governments representing over 40 million people, that have declared a Climate Emergency, click here.

International Efforts

Copenhagen, which has reduced emissions by 42% since 2005 and aims to become carbon neutral by 2025, is a model for how local governments can do their part in preventing global catastrophe. Much remains to be done, but 43% of Copenhagers commute by bike—and the city has replaced fossil fuel with wind and garbage for heat generation.   

National groups are also beginning to recognize this emergency for what it is. The Labor Party in the UK (one of that country’s two major parties) declared a national environment and climate emergency. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which has profited enormously from the sale of fossil fuels, announced that it is beginning to invest in renewable energy sources instead.

Fighting in Court

Others are taking the fight to the fossil fuel companies that have profited at the expense of future generations. Environmentalist groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Netherlands, filed suit against Royal Dutch Shell this month, demanding the multinational extractor cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Meanwhile, California cities and counties—including Oakland and San Francisco—have sued fossil fuel companies demanding they address the damage caused by rising sea levels and other effects of global warming. Six U.S. Senators filed a no-holds-barred amicus brief in one of these lawsuits, calling out fossil fuel companies for “a decades-long campaign of disinformation, obstruction, and political intimidation designed to prevent democratically accountable branches of government from adopting any policies that would reduce carbon pollution.”

The ongoing deception campaign was evident this past month in the U.S., where, as threatened, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has received more than $2 million from oil and gas companies, brought a booby-trapped version of the Green New Deal for a vote in the U.S. Senate in an effort to embarrass its supporters. All but three Democratic Senators voted “present” —a defensive move meant to signal a willingness to pass a modified version. A a speech by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) defending the Green New Deal went viral; citing the recent floods in the Midwest, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez rejected the suggestion that environmentalism is an elite luxury.

“This is not an elitist issue. This is a quality of life issue. You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx who are suffering from the highest rate of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint who have their blood ascending in lead levels. Their brains are damaged for the rest of their lives. Call them elitist,” AOC said in part.

In short, this past month gave us two glimpses into our future as a planet —one where catastrophic storms destroy vulnerable cities and farmland, and one where young people self-organize a global movement of hope and solidarity. We can still choose between these futures —and we hope you’ll join us in mobilizing for a livable planet.

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Kristen Cashmore

Senior Director
Kristen brings more than 25 years of social justice advocacy to Climate Mobilization. Her previous positions at human rights, public health, environmental justice, and clean energy organizations inform her work with the variety of stakeholders she is engaging with to bring an accelerated response to the climate emergency. Kristen earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley, where she was a teaching assistant in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

Malik Russell

Communications Director

Malik leads Climate Mobilization’s press and communications strategy. He formerly served as Communications Director for the NAACP. He is a journalist, author, community-based educator, and former lecturer in the Department of Strategic Communications at Morgan State University. The former editor of the Washington Afro-American newspaper, he has worked as a journalist in the Black Press for over two decades.He has a BA in American history from Brandeis University and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College in New York, where he was selected as a National Urban Fellow.

Ezra Silk

Deputy Director

Ezra is co-founder of The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. He authored The Climate Mobilization’s Victory Plan, an influential exploration of how the federal government can organize and implement a mobilization to save civilization from the Climate Emergency and ecological crisis. This document directly shaped the demands of the Extinction Rebellion movement and the Green New Deal framework. Ezra was also a lead author of the climate emergency declaration resolution introduced in Congress in July 2019. A former newspaper reporter, Ezra has a BA in history from Wesleyan University.

Matt Renner

Executive Director of The Climate Mobilization

Matt has worked as a nonprofit executive in clean energy, climate policy, and journalism for over a decade, focusing on the near-term social and economic impacts of climate change. He leads organizational expansion and works closely with the communications and organizing teams. Matt earned a BA in political science from UC Berkeley, where he was deeply inspired by the work of Professor George Lakoff.

Laura Berry

Research & Policy Director

Laura brings over a decade of experience to Climate Mobilization in climate advocacy, organizing, research, and policy. She has worked on climate, environmental, and sustainability issues from local to global scales with organizations including the Stockholm Environment Institute, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and 350.org. She is passionate about deepening democratic engagement in response to the Climate Emergency. Laura has a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic and an MSc in global environment, politics, and society from the University of Edinburgh.

Rebecca Harris

Organizing Director

Rebecca leads Climate Mobilization organizing efforts. Along with a history of social movement organizing, Rebecca he has worked as a journalist covering equity in Chicago public schools. Most recently, Rebecca worked as Development and Communications Manager at Latino Union of Chicago, an immigrants’ and workers’ rights organization. She is a 2017 graduate of the Reframe Mentorship in strategic communications and a 2019 participant in the Anne Braden Organizer Training Program.

Marina Mails

Operations and Community Manager
Marina manages operations and volunteers for both The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. She brings broad experience working in non-profit organizations, health care settings, and running her own private counseling practice. Before joining Climate Mobilization, Marina maintained a practice focusing exclusively on climate-related emotional coping, helping people make bold choices for lifestyle and professional change in response to the Climate Emergency. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Wake Forest University and a Masters in Counseling from UNC Greensboro.

Sydney Ghazarian

Digital Organizer
Sydney leads digital strategy for The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization project. She is also a founder of National Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialist Working Group and worked to establish climate as a primary focus of the American Left. Sydney has previously worked in journalism and in academic research. Sydney received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California San Diego.

Cris Lagunas

Strategy Director

Cris is helping to grow the Climate Emergency Movement by supporting creative campaigns and extending the reach of the movement’s message. Cris is a co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an organization dedicated to using direct action tactics to expose, challenge and dismantle the immigration detention system.Cris got his start in organizing when he was 15 years old, getting involved in a local group of fellow undocumented youth.

Zack Burley

Policy Associate

Zack provides policy support for the Climate Mobilization team, and brings a versatile set of policy skills and experiences in labor organizing, journalism, legislative politics, and legal practice to the climate emergency movement. Zack earned a JD from Denver University Sturm College of Law, is a founding organizer of the Political Workers Guild of Colorado, and formerly served as a legislative aide in the Colorado General Assembly.

AriDy Nox

Organizational Development and Engagement Manager
AriDy brings creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role, assisting the executive director with travel, communication and fundraising. AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist. They have served as a national representative for The Young Women of Color Leadership Council, the Millennials of Color Leadership Bureau, and held writing positions with Advocates for Youth and RH Reality Check. She has worked as an administrative and executive assistant for a myriad of organizations including the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Performing Arts at NYU, the Youth Engagement Fund and the Community Resource Exchange.