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Ten Years to Zero: News from The Climate Emergency Movement

UN Secretary General Calls on All Nations to Declare a Climate Emergency

“Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency? That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

Photo: Cancillería Argentina on flickr.com

In a powerful speech at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 this week, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on all national governments to declare a climate emergency and stay on an emergency footing until carbon neutrality is reached. This is the strongest statement yet by the international body that has adopted the Climate Emergency Campaign goal of getting governments on the record by declaring an emergency and then implementing policies that rise to the challenge. It’s remarkable how far this movement has come; the video from the U.N. is worth watching. 

This is a global shift, as leaders across the world, in governments large and small, come to the understanding that we face “a moment of truth” and a decisionpoint: it’s a choice between Climate Mobilization and collapse. 

If you are as inspired as we are by this moment, consider joining a Climate Emergency Campaign where you live — or starting one! 

On the homefront, a huge shout-out to TCM Montgomery County, Maryland, which achieved one of the first declarations in the U.S. and where the county just released a draft Climate Action Plan that sets out their pathway to zero emissions by 2035!

With the addition of two new national declarations in New Zealand and Japan, over 950 million people (12.8% of the global population) now live in a jurisdiction that has declared climate emergency. Click here for a detailed look at declaration numbers.

The climate emergency declarations coming out of New Zealand and Japan both include inadequate targets for eliminating emissions with goals of “net zero by 2050.” Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to zero by 2030 or sooner to avoid catastrophic global heating, the impacts of which we are only beginning to comprehend.

Double Your Impact to Support Our Work!

Thousands of people have taken action as part of the Climate Emergency Campaign — if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. We have a strategy for advancing this work and winning deep policy impacts in 2021, but to get there we need your support. 

Our board of directors has pledged to match gifts dollar-for-dollar — can you jump in now and help us make sure we start the year off strong? Make a contribution now to support Climate Mobilization.

Hopeful News

Major changes to energy infrastructure are fast approaching as coal, natural gas, and oil power plants reach the end of their useful lives. A full 85% of the current fossil-fuel power generation capacity in the U.S. is slated to close due to age by 2035. The journal Science published a paper looking at the impact of plant closures on workers, drawing parallels with the job losses and devastation around the steel industry in the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s. The study author points to the opportunity lawmakers have at this time to both protect workers from the impact of plant closures by planning ahead, and shift energy production to green sources. 

In Montgomery County, Maryland, where the county government declared a climate emergency in 2017, County Executive Marc Elrich has proposed a new Climate Action Plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035. “The Draft Climate Action Plan identifies the County’s major GHG emissions sectors, including energy supply, buildings and transportation, and proposes actions to directly reduce GHG emissions in these sectors. The plan also includes actions related to climate adaptation, carbon sequestration, climate governance and public engagement, partnerships and education.”

President Elect Joe Biden has called the climate crisis one of the greatest challenges facing our country, but has stopped short of declaring it a national emergency. With control of the Senate still up for grabs and concerns that declaring a climate emergency would alienate moderate senators, the Biden-Harris team continue to ride the line on this issue, committing to re-joining the Paris climate accord, but refusing to answer calls to invoke the National Emergencies Act.  Those in support of Biden’s decision argue that we cannot afford to divide the country by declaring a climate emergency. We, on the other hand, continue to organize around our conviction that telling the truth is critical and that nationwide Climate Mobilization is necessary if we are to have any hope of addressing the climate emergency by 2030. 

A combination of cross-generational organizing, smart legislation, and eight-years of fighting has led to New York divesting its $226 billion pension fund from fossil fuels, with a promise to completely decarbonize the fund by 2040. The fossil free divestment movement continues to gain ground, with over 1300 institutions representing nearly $14.5 trillion agreeing to full or partial divestment. But this win is expected to raise the stakes for everyone, warning Wall Street and other institutional investors that the fossil fuel industry’s days are numbered. 

As we have experienced first-hand working with organizers from across the country in their local communities, Post Carbon Institute’s Resilience project points out the success of local governments taking a lead on reducing emissions and creating just, sustainable futures using climate emergency declarations to focus goals and bring people together. “This process of declaration is helping communities to better understand where they are on their climate journeys and creates a framework for designing, delivering and evaluating a pathway forward towards a net-zero emissions future.”

Climate Impacts

Record high temperatures in the arctic are rapidly changing the landscape and ecosystems above the arctic circle. Permafrost is melting, glaciers collapsing, snow-cover and sea ice are shrinking. This region is warming up to 4 times faster than the rest of the planet, influencing sea level rise and extreme weather around the world. 

Calculations are just being finalized for the cost to the economy of the 2018 California wildfires. Previous to this year, 2018 had been the worst wildfire season on record, costing the US economy an astounding $148.5 billion dollars in losses, including concrete loss of life and property, as well as health impacts of wildfire smoke, loss of productivity and other costs. 

Inhabitants of low lying, rural areas in Bangladesh are being forced out of their homes, often into city slums, by severe weather and constant flooding. People who formerly worked in fishing or farming in these regions are left without a livelihood.

Long Reads

The climate emergency is inextricable from the theft of land from indigenous people, as is the ongoing abuse of indigenous people and the lands they inhabit. This article explores the #landback movement  The Indigenous landback movement is central to the fight for environmental justice. Explore the landback movement and their recent wins in this article. 

As Biden’s presidency draws near, the desire for a return to robust and assertive government action on climate is growing. A recent article in Yes! calls to revive the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program created and launched during the Great Depression that put millions of people to work while also deepening America’s conservation efforts. A revised form of the program would ideally reject its predecessor’s pitfalls (racism, sexism, ecologically destructive projects, etc.) and address our current environmental challenges with the guidance of scientific experts and the efforts of a truly diverse workforce. 

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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.