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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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Alexia Leclerq

Network Coach

Alexia (she/they) is an environmental justice organizer based in Austin, TX. They graduated summa cum laude from NYU (’20), where they self-designed a major titled “The Politics and Economics of Inequality.” Their research focuses on political ecology, environmental justice, AAPI communities, inequality, postcolonialism. As an organizer and researcher they have spent the past 5 years working on various issues from preserving the Colorado River, water rights, fighting land use policy and zoning that enforces race-based discrimination, conducting ethnographic research on climate health, to organizing mutual aid, youth programming, and shaping national legislation alongside members of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance; today Alexia continues to work as an organizer with PODER, a grassroots EJ org. Alexia is also the co-founder of Start: Empowerment, a BIPOC led social and environmental justice education non-profit working with youth, educators, activists, and community members to implement justice-focused education and programming in schools and community spaces. S:E curriculum and programming has reached over 2,000 students, been recognized by the NYC Department of Education, and taught in universities. In 2021, their work was recognized by the prestigious Brower Youth Award.

Emmett Hopkins

National Organizer

Emmett organizes local-scale mobilization for the Sonoma County campaign, while supporting Climate Mobilization’s organizing efforts around the country. He brings over a decade of experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders to build community food systems, ensure equitable access to public lands, and mobilize resources towards a just transition to an amazing zero carbon future. He graduated from Stanford with a BS in Earth Systems and MS in Urban Planning & Sustainable Design. Emmett enjoys growing food and cultivating relationships, riding bikes and buses, and reimagining our communities to better serve all the people living in them.

Suha Dabbouseh

National Organizer

National Organizer Suha Dabbouseh leads national strategy for The Climate Mobilization. They are originally from Chicago but have lived, organized and rebel-roused in seven states and 11 cities. Suha received their law degree from CUNY-School of Law where they focused on social justice lawyering representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. While practicing law, Suha had worked to advocate on behalf of domestic violence survivors, transgender clients and fighting employment discrimination. Their passion is building people power and organizing to dismantle structural inequities.

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.

Mariyah Jahangiri

Network Organizer

Mariyah leads Climate Mobilization Network’s recruitment, coordination, and organizing support. She has organized across movements and is passionate about addressing white supremacy in the mainstream climate movement and building capacity for youth-led, BIPOC-led intersectional climate movements. She has been inspired by her experiences organizing to defund the police in Boston, supporting mutual aid and food sovereignty projects in Iowa, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico, and working on a Make Big Polluters Pay campaign. Mariyah worked as an organizer with the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign and Planned Parenthood PAC. She graduated from Grinnell College with a Sociology degree.

Rebecca Harris

Co-Leader and Director of Organizing

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

Co-Leader and Director of Operations
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.

Meghann Beer

Co-Leader and Director of Resource Mobilization and Strategy

Meghann brings more than 20 years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience to The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. For over a decade Meghann has worked as a nonprofit consultant helping organizations expand their capacity, secure revenue, develop successful strategies, and effectively evaluate their programs, enabling them to create greater positive change in the world. She has also worked as an executive director, designed and facilitated international service learning experiences, and taught university courses in fundraising and nonprofit management. Meghann earned a MPA in Nonprofit Management and Comparative and International Affairs from The School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, in Bloomington, IN and a BA in Art History and American Studies from Tufts University in Boston, MA.

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

Co-Leader and Director of Narrative Strategy

 AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist with a variety of forward-thinking creative works under her/their belt. They create out of the vehement belief that creating a future in which marginalized peoples are free requires a radical imagination. Their tales are offerings intended to function as small parts of an ancient, expansive, awe-inspiring tradition of world-shaping, created by and for black femmes. They have over a decade of experience as a young social activist and organizer, within reproductive justice and racial justice frameworks with organizations like the Young Women of Color Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth, the Toni Cade Bamabara Collective at Spelman College and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. They bring creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role and deep belief that times of apocalypse are opportunities for rebirth. We need first imagine the world we want in order to create it.