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Climate Emergency Declarations Are the First Step. Here’s What Comes Next.

Ban + Plan + Expand: How local governments can take immediate action to mobilize people and resources to address the Climate Emergency in their backyards.

This is a repost of a recent Truthout article written by TCM’s Margaret Klein Salamon and Laura Heitman Berry on “Ban + Plan + Expand” — TCM’s new post-emergency declaration implementation framework for governments and activists

Last week, the climate emergency movement reached a historic milestone – 1,000 governments across the world have declared a climate emergency. Cities and jurisdictions representing over 210 million people from New York, Paris, London and Sydney to New Haven, Austin and Sacramento have joined a movement that has spread to all parts of society including colleges and universities and a variety of religious and cultural institutions.

Worldwide growth of the climate emergency movement has been rapid. In May 2019, the number of climate emergency declarations stood at just over 500 – just four months later those numbers have doubled.

For The Climate Mobilization, an advocacy organization that is pushing for the adoption of climate emergency declarations and the development of a WWII-scale mobilization in the United States to address this emergency, climate emergency declarations are the first step toward shifting society into emergency mode, where we take all necessary action to address the crisis situation we face.

Local governments can take immediate action to mobilize people and resources toward addressing the climate emergency in their backyards through a three-pronged approach that can be characterized as “Ban, Plan, and Expand.”

Ban

“Ban” means that after a climate emergency declaration is passed, local governments should pursue a rapid, just, managed phase-out of coal, oil and gas within the next decade. The science is clear: We must keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Local governments and jurisdictions must begin to use all possible legal avenues toward phasing out fossil fuels, from zoning restrictions to prevent the construction of oil infrastructure, to mandating the shift away from oil and gas heating systems in new building construction.

Local governments should also adopt strategies similar to those used against South African apartheid. These include withdrawal of municipal investments and contracts with companies or industries contributing to the destruction of the planet, and divestment as a tool to removing the social license of the fossil fuel industry through rejecting direct ownership and the commingling of public funds with investment in fossil fuel companies.

Plan

“Plan” refers to the deliberate democratization of local action on the climate emergency. This process involves elevating the voices of citizens, and particularly those from marginalized and frontline communities, in a just and equitable way to ensure mobilization efforts do not represent the current state of inequality existing in our nation and around the world. Local governments must shift their resources and priorities toward building the democratic mandate for emergency climate response. We must begin to explore new democratic tools such as mini-publics — including citizens’ juries, community assemblies and other more deliberative forms of public engagement — to elevate and explore the public’s views and create consensus on the complex policies that restoring a safe climate will require.

These mini-publics could inform local governments in the creation of a new Climate Mobilization Action Plan. This plan would guide for the rapid mobilization of resources necessary to transition to a climate-safe economy and local community. It would dismiss any ideas of incrementalism and move immediately toward the strongest mobilization-scale strategies, actions and legislation possible on issues of energy efficiency, renewable energy, zero emissions transportation, ecosystem conservation, food security, and adaptation and resilience within their jurisdictions.

Necessary to steer the plan forward is the creation of state or local Climate Emergency Mobilization Department (CEMD), functioning with public oversight and transparency. This new agency would possess real authority regarding coordination of climate emergency planning and implementation efforts within a said jurisdiction. We see this process happening already in several cities that have declared a climate emergency: Los Angeles recently created a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department and is hosting community assemblies on the climate emergency response, while Boulder, Colorado, is creating a Climate Mobilization Action Plan with heavy community involvement, and New Haven, Connecticut, is convening a new Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force to lead the course to zero emissions by 2030.

Expand

“Expand” refers to how we must work to expand the climate emergency movement, moving beyond incremental policy shifts to implement rapid and comprehensive action necessary to restore a safe climate. From the expansion of public transportation, widespread ecological restoration, the rapid increase of local renewable energy generationmandating emissions cuts from buildings, local implementation is key to responding to the climate emergency. Local government needs leaders to publicly advocate for the adoption of state and national climate emergency commitments, programs and legislation. Governments declaring climate emergency have a responsibility to use their collective political power to strategically advocate for national and international World War II-scale climate mobilization.

The goal is to not only expand climate-safe policies and laws but to utilize thoughtful collaborative projects, networking, education and engagement with other governments around the world, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and businesses to create a culture which makes these positive steps sustainable.

It’s a heavy lift, but doable.

Five years ago, a few friends on a shoestring budget started The Climate Mobilization with the goal of telling the truth about the climate emergency. Less than two years ago, the first climate emergency declaration in the United States was passed in Hoboken, New Jersey. And today, The Climate Mobilization’s model has been expanded internationally with groups like Extinction Rebellion through the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and other places. Momentum to declare a national climate emergency by Congress is building, with over 60 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and seven in the Senate – including five of the seven U.S. senators running for the Democratic nomination for president — for a concurrent congressional resolution calling for a whole-economy mobilization response to the climate emergency.

We helped start the climate emergency movement to push government leadership to take global warming seriously. Our hope was by helping local communities on this issue, we could begin the process of generating national support for the WWII type of mobilization necessary to prevent apocalyptic climate disaster. As the movement has grown, we’ve realized that the strongest and most effective solutions to the climate emergency are often those driven by local communities.

Because not only is saving our planet doable – it’s something we must all do, together.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

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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.