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10 Years to Zero: UK Declares Emergency… but What Will It Mean?

Get up to speed on progress in the Climate Emergency Movement. This installment covers the UK declaration of Climate Emergency, Extinction Rebellion in London, the US democratic presidential candidates on climate, and a glimpse at a hopeful future.

Extinction Rebellion Takes London and the UK Declares Climate Emergency

For 10 days in April, thousands of activists with Extinction Rebellion disrupted business as usual throughout London, barricading streets at major landmarks with elaborate art and performances. Protesters staged a die-in at the Natural History Museum, climbed on trains, locked or glued themselves to bridges and trains, blockaded the entrance to the London Stock Exchange, and more than 1,000 were peacefully arrested. Activist Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who began the School Strike for Climate, joined in the protests and delivered a speech to the UK Parliament. The protesters demanded that the people and politicians of the UK treat climate change like an emergency and commit to net-zero emissions by 2025. They were impossible to ignore—and on May 1, 2019, the UK Parliament declared an “environment and climate emergency,” making the United Kingdom the first country to do so.

Our allies at the Council Action in the Climate Emergency (CACE) published an important article about the definition of “Climate Emergency” and the need to protect the integrity of this concept as it gains popular appeal and sparks policy actions:

“As climate emergency talking and thinking shifts further towards climate emergency action, it is imperative that ‘climate emergency’ is not co-opted to mean something ‘convenient’ or ‘pragmatic’ (ie. weak goals and slow action). Climate emergency has to stand for safe climate principles for restoring a safe climate. So what should climate emergency emissions targets look like? This blog attempts to draw a line in the sand, proposing how to set targets for both central governments and councils.”

Read the full post on CACE’s website here.

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Tell Democratic Candidates for President: Hold a Climate Debate!

Climate change is the biggest crisis the United States and humanity has ever faced. And voters are starting to see it that way. A new CNN poll finds that climate change was the top priority for Democratic voters, with 82 percent calling it “very important.”

Twenty candidates have announced that they are running for the Democratic nomination for President. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared himself a single-issue presidential candidate on climate change and released a detailed plan to address it. Others have endorsed the Green New Deal. Beto O’Rourke has compared climate change to WWII, and called it an “existential challenge” that calls for “sacrifice and service” on the same scale. But the plan released by his campaign would get the U.S. to zero emissions in 2050—far too late to keep us within 1.5 degrees of warming, let alone achieve a reversal of warming, as we demand.

In the midst of this debate, a lesser-known candidate has crafted the strongest guiding principles for climate action. Watch Climate Mobilization Co-founder Ezra Silk’s new video interview with renowned author Marianne Williamson and award-winning filmmaker Josh Fox on the spiritual aspects of the Climate Emergency and her commitment to reversing climate change, not just trying to limit the danger.  

With so many ideas on the table, the Democratic Party must put climate change at the foreground of the 2020 election, and candidates must be prepared to rise to this world historical challenge. Sign this petition to tell the DNC: Hold a climate debate!

Local Governments Begin Acting on Climate Declarations

Declaring a climate emergency is essential—but it is only the first step. Cities that have already declared a climate emergency are beginning to act on that commitment. Vancouver just approved a roadmap meant to meet the 2030 target they say is needed on a global scale to avoid catastrophe. That roadmap includes six “big moves” and 53 “quick start actions.” Among these big moves are restoring forest and coastal ecosystems by fall 2020, making communities entirely walkable by 2030, ensuring 50% of vehicles are zero-emission by 2030, and making all new and replacement water heating systems zero emissions by 2025. New York has begun taking much smaller steps, capping building emissions and requiring landlords to do retrofitting that would reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030; initiating a study on whether the city can close its 24 oil- and gas-burning power plants; and making it easier to build wind turbines. And in Berkeley California, Councilwoman Kate Harrison has cited that city’s Climate Emergency declaration in proposing a prohibition on gas hookups in all new construction. Cities must go much further, much faster, but these steps signal a shift toward action after too many decades of rising emissions.

We are committed to spreading the Climate Emergency Movement around the globe. We’re seeing success as the influence of declarations in small cities spreads out and up, now with the example of the UK, all the way to national governments. After governments make declarations, we work to encourage them to take bold and meaningful action, and we provide guidance around impactful, feasible policy. As the Climate Emergency Movement grows, we must be prepared to redouble our efforts in all of these areas, and we need your help. Please become a monthly donor at a level that is possible for you—help sustain our work, and make it possible for us to scale up to meet the challenge ahead.

New Fronts in the Climate Emergency Movement

Beginning on April 3, arts and culture organizations and individual artists began declaring a climate and ecological emergency and committing to building a regenerative culture capable of restoring ecological sustainability. Working in close collaboration with Extinction Rebellion, these artists contribute music, installations, moving artwork, and spoken word to the protests in London. They offer a toolkit for artists who wish to bring the emergency to their own communities and begin preparing for the work necessary to transform our culture. If you are an artist or work for a cultural organization, consider declaring and learning more about what to do next.

Meanwhile, municipal climate emergency declarations have arrived in a sixth country: Germany. Konstanz, in southern Germany, became the first city in that country to declare a climate emergency, joining cities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Switzerland.

No Future in Fossil Fuels

For the first time ever, renewable energy generated more electricity than coal in the U.S. last month. Not because the U.S. has committed to addressing climate change—but because solar and wind are beating coal on price. According to experts, we could replace three-fourths of all coal power plants with solar and wind today and households would pay less. Although the process of transforming our society to one that uses exclusively renewable energy will require significant short-term sacrifices and disruption, a world with climate justice is not a world of austerity. Energy transformation is not about making “trade-offs”—it is about exchanging a future in which fossil fuel companies’ greed has threatened human civilization, for one in which humanity doesn’t just live—it lives better.

A Message from the Future

And for a glimpse of what that hopeful future might look like, check out “A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a short video that hypothesizes one answer to the question: What if we declare a climate emergency—and win?

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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.