Building Political Power

Crossposted from NRDC's Switchboard

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Crossposted from NRDC’s Switchboard

Over the course of my years in the youth climate movement, I’ve been reminded many times that this work is filled with trials and tribulations.  From the Bella Centre during COP15, when we didn’t get a fair, ambitious and binding international agreement on global emissions, to Power Shift, where we lobbied our members of Congress to pass domestic climate legislation.  We’ve shouted, rallied and some of us have even gotten arrested to demonstrate we are heading in the wrong direction.

Rarely do we receive any validation that we are actually breaking through the smog and getting on the right path towards climate stability.  In June, we had one of those moments when President Obama laid out a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis by reining in dangerous carbon pollution that spews unregulated into our atmosphere from power plants. And while I certainly did not agree with everything the President put forward, it is beyond clear that carbon pollution must be mitigated.

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This post originally appreared at Waging Nonviolence. To read the original post, click here.

Anti-mountaintop removal activist Larry Gibson, who passed away last year, saw most of his family's land on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia razed by the coal industry. (Flickr / Blaine O'Neill)

Anti-mountaintop removal activist Larry Gibson, who passed away last year, saw most of his family’s land on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia razed by the coal industry. (Flickr / Blaine O’Neill)

Two and a half years ago, I arrived home from the last of several trips to West Virginia, where I had gone with a group of 10 fellow Swarthmore College students to witness the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. Knowing that our school was invested in this practice that is decimating rural communities — and wanting to support their organizing against it — we decided to ask Swarthmore to divest its stock holdings from fossil fuels. Although we knew that our school wouldn’t have a huge impact on the situation, we hoped our actions would encourage other schools to start similar campaigns — thereby drawing more attention to the daily struggles of people on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction, and possibly even posing a threat to the industry itself.

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At Bonnaroo, the nation’s biggest music festival, a new wave of organizing set-off to call on President Obama to reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

And it couldn’t have been happening at a more important time: just this last Tuesday President Obama addressed Keystone XL in his climate speech, saying that Keystone XL must be rejected if it “significantly exacerbates climate change.”

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