Blog

Yesterday, I wrote a post on how 2014 is the defining year of the critical decade to act on climate.  Today, I want to announce a new opportunity to engage in this year's defining climate policy fights: Climate Action Lab.

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334 The USF Power Shift team rallying to being an end to dirty coal! Florida carried the THIRD largest state convergence at PS 2013.

As an National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Campus Ecology Fellow at the University of South Florida in Tampa, my campaign aimed to bring the Divestment/Reinvestment Movement to the “Dirty South” in order to end the expansion of unjust and polluting energy utilities.  As all campaign do, mine grew and developed over time, and I realized that what my campus needed was the sound leadership skills and organizing training necessary for a long term and sustainable Divestment Campaign. I was a senior leader on campus and thought this would be a plausible and useful expenditure of my time.

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“All years are important, but decisions made in 2014 will have a striking impact for decades to come.” –Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute

While celebrating New Year’s Eve in 2009, as the clock ticked down to a new decade I felt a tinge of apprehension.  The Copenhagen climate talks had just failed, yet the evidence was mounting that climate change was becoming more and more threatening.  As the clock struck midnight and 2009 turned into 2010, I sensed that this was the critical decade.  The next ten years, from 2010 to 2020, would largely define the state of the world for rest of the century.  Scientists have repeatedly warned that unless we peak total global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, we won't be able to stabilize the climate below 2 degrees C of warming.  Can we peak global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020?  Can we figure out a viable global agreement to collectively act on climate?  Can the US enact meaningful climate policy?  All of these questions loomed large for me in 2009 as I thought about the years ahead.

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Sadly, I witnessed countless examples of normalized colonial attitudes presented as valuable drivers of progress during my time at COP19 last November. This video is one of them. If you're interested in reading about it, this linked article presents some critiques on the savior-complex used to rally the international climate debate.

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328 On Tuesday, January 28th, over a hundred people paraded a giant pipeline around the Capitol Building to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in advance of the State of the Union. The protest was organized by 350.org, CREDO, Energy Action Coalition, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation and other pipeline opponents.

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326 For the past couple months, the pressure has been building on elected officials in Kentucky to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and invest more in an economy that utilizes larger amounts of renewable energies, specifically through the passage of legislation such as the Clean Energy Opportunities Act (HB 195). This effort has been led by a diverse coalition of stakeholders in the state, but has seen particularly strong participation from young Kentuckians.

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What if?

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January 30, 2014

What if fossil fuel companies no longer existed?  What if fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sands were relics of the past?  What if humanity actually averted runaway climate change?  What if we saw our work as intertwined with the broader pursuit of social justice?  What if acting as allies to our sister movements were central and never accessory to our work?   What if, through a transition away from fossil fuel dependence, we made our political system more participatory?  What if communities became more self-sufficient and resilient?

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In just three months, St. Louis, the hometown of five coal companies could also be home to the divestment movement’s next big victory. St. Louis is also my hometown, and for over a year now, I’ve been working on the citywide divestment campaign, called Take Back St. Louis. The Take Back St. Louis initiative will change the city charter to end incentives to fossil fuel companies and instead invest money in and open city-owned land for renewable energy and sustainability initiatives. 

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When I started at the University of Maryland this past semester I joined the campaign to divest my university from fossil fuels as well. I am part of the fossil fuel divestment movement because divestment is an important tactic to make the fossil fuel industry’s public reputation as toxic as their business practices. Once doing business with the fossil fuel industry is seen as morally unconscionable it’s unlikely the industry will be able to continue buying off enough public officials to keep itself in existence.

Many of us have found out through divestment campaigns just how engrained the fossil fuel industry is on our campuses. Despite overwhelming support among students, university presidents and administrations have resisted our demands, caving to the power of fossil fuels.

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323 Shoddy KXL South Pipeline Connects Communities United in Opposition to Tar Sands

The highly anticipated startup of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has not deterred impacted residents from beginning a new chapter in advocating for the safety and integrity of their homes, communities, and natural spaces. Following years of entanglement with multinational pipeline corporation TransCanada and no support from elected officials, residents stretching from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast have been meeting to discuss how the tar sands pipeline has shaped how they relate to their communities and the political geographies of the pipeline.

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321 Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.Yesterday, Bates College disappointed many students and alumni that have been pushing the campus to live up to its “green” image. President Clayton Spencer released a public letter to the community stating that Bates would not be divesting from the fossil fuel industry.

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