inclusive organizing on climate change
colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed Jun 14 16:40:37 CDT 2006
[ed: the message Larry sends is reposted with permission]
From: Larry Yates <llyates at shentel.net>
I wanted to share this with Comm-Org all because this is organizing on
what has been seen as a "white environmentalist" issue -- climate change
-- but this organzing is signficantly including the environmental
justice folks in indigenous communities and communities of color.
While this may not be that evident from the notes, I know some of the
names here, and I definitely see a payoff for a longterm antiracist
organizing perspective on the part of a lot of folks. (Of course, this
includes indigenous people and people of color willing to deal with the
sometimes high costs of working with white folks.)
Cimate change is a profoundly important issue, and one of the main
strategies of the petrochemical/auto folks is keeping the movement
isolated in a "white tree-hugger" sphere. While we all understand that
such isolation is a recipe for failure on any issue, not all of us bulid
antiracist work into our daily practice. One person (among many, he
would be the first to say) who should be acknowledged here is Ted Glick,
who moved to focus on this issue a few years ago, after a long stretch
doing third party electoral work in which he always very consciously
supported and validated an anti-racist perspective and insisted on real
inclusion of people of color in positions of leadership.
Always a long way to go, but I think it is worth acknowledging progress
made. Certainly if there can be at least some real inclusion on a global
issue that sometimes seems abstract and distant, we can practice
inclusion with people that live right in our community, working on
issues that have a more obvious immediate impact.
Begin forwarded message:
> From: "Ted Glick" <usajointheworld at igc.org>
> Date: June 13, 2006 9:10:36 AM EDT
> To: "usa join" <usajointheworld at igc.org>
> Subject: Report of CCC April 30 National Meeting
> Dear Friends,
> Below and attached is a pretty comprehensive report of the Climate
Crisis Coalition National Strategy Meeting on April 30th. We're sorry it
took longer than we'd like to do it it up, but here it is. There was a
lot of substance at this conference!
> We hope your work is going well. Be in touch with any questions or input.
> Ted Glick
> usajointheworld at igc.org
> P.O. Box 1132
> Bloomfield, N.J. 07003
> 2006 Climate Crisis Coalition National Strategy Meeting
> Sunday, April 30, 2006, New York City
> 1199/Service Employees International Union
> The meeting was attended by 107 climate activists, representing
groups from across the country and abroad: California, Connecticut,
Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington; as well as Colombia,
England and Canada.
> The meeting took place the day after the huge April 29th March for
Peace, Justice and Democracy down Broadway in Manhattan. On the wall was
a 20 foot long banner which read: “No More Oil Wars—Clean Energy Now!”
The banner, created and carried by Middlebury College students for the
march, represented the connection people felt between the two events.
> Opening Comments
> Coraminita Mahr, Vice President of 1199/Service Employees
International Union, opened by welcoming participants and reporting on
1199’s active two-year involvement with the Climate Crisis Coalition.
> Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental
Network, offered his spiritual perspective to the proceedings, (in
English and his native language), by calling on the spirit of those who
have come before us who have struggled to defend the rights of
indigenous people, of all people and of Mother Earth.
> Morning Presentations
> Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network:
> You need to pick a path and do it now. Greenland is melting. We could
see 80 feet of sea level rise in coming centuries. Hurricane season 2005
was major: three catastrophic storms in 52 days. We need to think of
ourselves as revolutionaries. We shouldn’t wait one more day for clean
energy. In the Chesapeake region we tried different tactics to get the
Maryland legislature to pass a bill to reduce CO2 and other air
pollutants. We had to get ourselves arrested blocking the entrance to a
coal-fired plant before things started to change. Three weeks afterwards
the leading candidate for governor took up this issue. We have to figure
out what gets people’s attention. We have the technology and tools to
make this clean energy revolution. We need to make it government policy.
> Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey, CCC:
> We need to be about movement-building. The greatest danger to
humankind is globalized monopoly capitalism. People don’t want to say
it, but we have to be honest so we can then develop an understanding of
how to challenge it. Science shows we’re in dire peril. A movement comes
from values and a vision. Humanity over profit. Unless we have a vision
we’re managing crisis instead of transforming the situation. We need to
move beyond a mono-cultural, mono-lingual movement to change the world
so that it’s in the hands of the global majority. We need a marketing
strategy. Change happens when people are motivated. It has to relate to
them, like the cost of food, safety of their children, resources for
development, etc. We need to connect to family and tap into Indigenous
wisdom, point to successful movements like the one in the D.C. area or
campuses shifting to clean energy.
> Kim Teplitzky, Energy Action:
> I’m doing the youth piece. Energy Action includes all of the major
youth/student groups in the U.S. and Canada. Over 100 campuses are
shifting to renewables. The Campus Climate Challenge is bigger than
Earth Day. We’re working with environmental justice and Indigenous and
older environmental groups with goal of 700 campuses by 2008. A sit-in
at Penn State is happening right now. We just had a victory in
California with a decision to purchase renewables. Green building and
efficiency as far as architecture goes is big on campuses; also
bio-diesel projects and new technology. Students and young people get
this issue. We’re doing collaboration and confrontation. We’re into
realigning power. We’re going to be dealing with all of this for a long
time; we’re ready to push forward and carry the flame.
> Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental
> I’m here for a Commission on Sustainable Development meeting at the
United Nations where the big issues are energy, climate and pollution.
I’m co-chair of Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative, which
has supported youth leadership development, and bringing people of color
into the white environmental movement. Winona LaDuke has talked about a
T-shirt, Make Wind Not War. 75% of energy needed in the U.S. could be
produced on the Great Plains. Renewable energy on reservations can both
help our people and contribute to the planet. Energy policy in this
country has had major negative impacts on Indigenous Peoples going way
back. We’ve been doing direct actions in our network concerning
coal-fired plants and fossil fuel development. We do have the technology
in this country but not the political will. We have to deal with our
energy addiction and waste; we need to reduce energy use in the home,
transportation and industry, and increase fuel efficiency. We need to
look at the question of carbon caps. We should make the polluters pay.
Who controls the commons? I’m concerned about “clean coal” and
sequestration. They say, “trust us,” but we’ve heard that before. We
need to organize to build the political will. Enviros need
constituencies. Say no to an industrial mindset. Relate to mother earth.
Yes to environmental ethics. Make Wind Not War.
> Cecil D. Corbin-Mark, West Harlem Environmental Action:
> As Marvin Gaye said, “Makes me want to holler and throw up my hands.”
In my community people don’t understand all the terms, but they know
that air pollution causes asthma and experience heat waves and more
severe weather. We have to break things down into simple, understandable
terms. The word crisis is about both danger and opportunity. Dangers are
ice caps melting, pollution, sea level rise, health impacts, asthma,
rise of diseases like malaria. Opportunities are for a return to a set
of values. History shows that we only move forward in this country when
values are in alignment within mass movements. There is much within the
Bible, the Koran and the Torah that are similar: ethic for the
environment, stewardship, justice, equality and not domination. EJCCI
(The Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative) has ten
principles: stop cooking the planet; empower individuals and give
knowledge; a just transition for workers and communities; require
community participation; global solutions; we in U.S. must give positive
leadership; stop exploration for fossil fuels; monitor carbon markets;
caution in the face of uncertainty; and protect future generations. We
must do all we can.
> Questions, answers and comments from the floor followed. The meeting
then divided into five breakout groups to discuss the themes of the
> Afternoon Workshops
> Congressional Focus:
> This workshop discussed the need to be active in promoting climate
issues in this year’s midterm elections and specific ways that it could
> After an initial round of introductions, people explained why they
thought this year’s midterm elections were particularly important to the
climate crisis. Much of the meeting focused on the CCC ClimateUSA
initiative. The Separation of Oil and State campaign and the Apollo
Alliance Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence were also
> Tom Stokes and Ross Gelbspan explained the rationale for the
ClimateUSA initiative; events leading to its launching and how people
could be involved: It’s an outgrowth of the People’s Ratification of the
Kyoto Global Warming Treaty petition (www.kyotoandbeyond.org); last year
the focus was on making an impact at the Montreal UN meeting; this year
it’s a vehicle to impact the midterm elections. CCC wants candidates to
talk about global warming. The 40,000 people who have already signed
will be encouraged to circulate the petition locally along with the
ClimateUSA platform. Candidates will be asked to support the three
positions on the platform and it will be used to stimulate conversations
of the climate crisis.
> A significant portion of the workshop was spent discussing the
> Calling for support for the Climate Stewardship Act (CSA), The Kyoto
> transfer of subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables. Although it
was explained that the platform was more of a starting point than a
template of solutions to the climate crisis, there were concerns that it
did not go far enough and did not adequately address root causes.
Concerns were expressed about carbon trading and about the fact that
giant polluters like ExxonMobil could collect subsidies for their green
> Although the workshop concluded without a strong sense of consensus
about how climate activists should approach the midterm elections, most
of the participants said they were committed to campaigns like
ClimateUSA and Separation of Oil and State, and respective contact
information was exchanged.
> Mayor’s Climate Agreement and Local Initiatives
> Several initiatives were discussed:
> Local activism to encourage cities to reduce their GHG emissions:
This discussion focused on the role municipal operations play in
producing GHGs and how citizens can be a major catalyst in getting
cities to reduce those sources. An evaluation of all sectors of a city,
i.e. community, business, schools, etc., is an excellent tool to
identify the most polluting sectors and can stimulate bylaws leading to
reducing those gases.
> Activities on college/university campuses: Meg Boyle, from Energy
Action, explained how they and others were organizing thousands of
students across the country.
> We Act for Environmental Justice in New York City. Cecil D.
Corbin-Mark described his organization’s efforts in West Harlem to
ensure that neighborhoods and their residents were active participants
in City planning efforts.
> The Mayor’s Climate Agreement. Tom Kelly, of KyotoUSA, described the
initiative to get cities across the country to take responsibility for
their own GHG emissions. KyotoUSA encourages people to reduce their own
carbon footprint, and to get involved locally to get their town or city
to reduce its GHG emissions. Their primary message is that we all have a
role in addressing climate change - that the solution will not come from
somewhere else, especially under the current federal administration. It
is up to us to act.
> Sierra Club’s Cool Cities project. Dave Hamilton and other
participants discussed their efforts.
> Faith Based Initiatives
> Rabbi Lawrence Troster spoke about his work with GreenFaith, to
create green sanctuaries in NJ, including all faith groups; and with The
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL). COEJL is just
completing a 2 year grant project in NJ focusing on four synagogues.
They are also creating a web-based resource, a step-by-step manual of
guidelines for green buildings--"Building in good faith", so that their
efforts can be duplicated by others seeking to build green.
> Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia spoke of the
Beyond Oil Campaign, as well as a coming event to be held in NYC on May
> Father Paul Mayer brought his religious call-to-action on global
warming entitled "The Fire This Time". He also spoke of the Earth
Circles Program, which is projected to provide emotional support and
healing as this crisis impacts public consciousness--a piece he believes
is necessary to the climate crisis movement.
> Discussion: Activists were present from various parts of the U.S.
including Michele Sprengnether of Mass. Interfaith Power & Light, who
noted that most of the Catholic dioceses in the Boston area were very
accepting of making their sanctuaries green; Josh Tulkin of Chesapeake
Climate Action Network, spoke of the 3 year campaign in Md. which just
succeeded in passing the Healthy Air Act, legislating the strongest
restrictions for coal fired power plants in the U.S.
> Consensus: Many overlaps and similarities with faith based groups
approaches were observed. It was felt that all should work together and
actively support one another's programs where feasible. It was further
agreed to accentuate the faith piece in the climate change movement;
finally it was noted that religious communities and leaders had led all
of the successful social justice movements in the U.S.
> Street Actions and Political Mobilizing:
> This workshop, facilitated by Adrienne Maree Brown of the Ruckus
Society, began with a report by Ted Glick on the discussion for a
national march on Washington that began in the spring of 2005. It was
suggested that with an increase in climate activism leading up to the
November elections that a spring, 2007 action in Washington should be
seriously considered. There was discussion about nonviolent civil
disobedience at local Congressional offices this fall and in D.C. next
> Coraminita Mahr spoke of the importance of linking issues, as
happened in the big march the day before. The anti-apartheid movement
focused on corporations operating in South Africa. It became more
effective when boycotts developed, going with CD, door-knocking to
educate, postcards, petitions, always funneling popular opinion to
elected leaders. Street action will not happen in a vacuum.
> Mike Tidwell spoke of the value of specific legislation as an anchor
for street action, to force elected officials to take a position.
Publicity with actions to get attention, like dumping a ton of coal at
an appropriate location are powerful tools. Creative actions will grab
media attention: hybrid car rallies, doing mercury testing on
legislators’ hair, etc.. The upcoming action on May 31 at the
headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to
call attention to their cover-up of the link between global warming and
more intense hurricanes was also announced.
> Jonathan Neale from England spoke of the plans for actions around the
world on November 4th, the second international day of climate action.
He reminded the group that there is the need to issue a call for a
national march even if it might end up being small. From small
beginnings can come a growing movement.
> Other comments made:
> - Build broad coalitions—a smorgasbord draws a wider audience.
> - Action in the works for the August 29th anniversary of Hurricane
Katrina. (direct action might draw more attention in D.C. than a march
> - Must build local groups - a key goal has to be to motivate more
organizing on local levels. (Demonstrations generate new activists and
amplify the message.)
> Prior to the afternoon panel, Dave Hamilton, of the Sierra Club,
spoke to the whole assembly on the need organize around stopping a new
generation of coal-fired power plants, and Sharon Abreu presented the
group with a musical selection.
> Closing Panel Discussion
> “Beyond Kyoto: Tackling the Tougher Issues.”
> Charles Komanoff, Komanoff Energy Associates,
> Alice Slater, The GRACE Policy Institute,
> Michael Dorsey, Dartmouth College,
> Bracken Hendricks of the Apollo Alliance and,.
> Ross Gelbspan, author.
> Subjects addressed included the problems with nuclear power and
carbon trading, the need for a carbon tax/tax shifting, the Gelbspan
proposal for a much stronger international GHG-reducing treaty and the
importance of reaching out to non-environmental constituencies.
> Charles Komanoff: the importance of a carbon tax. We need to reduce
the use of carbon fuels. We can do it in a conscious way and use the
revenues to protect those hurt. Coal would be taxed most, then oil, then
natural gas. A truism: anything cheap will never be conserved. The
alternatives to a carbon tax fall short. CAFE standards get diluted and
gamed. Hybrids are misused. Standards like RGGI will be subverted. Can’t
be scatter shot. CAFE only affects what car to buy. Carbon tax affects
things across board, how fast you go, how many miles you go, whether
bike or walk instead, etc. Also, 60% of oil not used for cars but for
freight, heat, recreational vehicles, air travel and paving. We can’t
count on peak oil as a brake – as price goes up the companies go into
tar sands and oil shale. Question: if you tax fuels, would consumers and
business respond? Research says yes. A starter carbon tax would reduce
emissions by 4%. Need to keep repeating. If did 10 times, coal-fired
plants would be too expensive, SUV’s would be out. What do we do with
revenues and to protect the vulnerable? Do tax shifting from regressive
taxes like worker share of social security tax or state sales taxes.
Without carbon taxes we’re subsidizing the jet-setting, opulent
lifestyles of the rich. How do we build support? Need to build
constituencies, make the polluter pay, full cost (including
> Alice Slater: Nuclear power. Did people know that the former
Greenpeace leader supporting nukes is being paid by the nuclear
industry? The nuclear non-proliferation treaty allows the “inalienable
right to peaceful technology.” Anyone with nukes can make bombs. The
International Atomic Energy Agency is promoting nukes dominated by
industry. Eisenhower said: we must be alert to public policy being
captured by a scientific/technological elite. Bush: only the U.S. and a
few others will make and sell nuclear technology. We have to make nukes
and fossil fuels obsolete and renewables widely available. Hydrogen is
being and can be used if made from green energy. Iceland: plans a green
hydrogen economy by 2050 using geothermal. There’s no need to go the
ethanol route. Corporate interests insist on peddling their cash cows.
We need new thinking by people like us. FDR said in 1936: government by
organized money is as dangerous as organized mob. Abolition 2000 has
come up with a model statute for an International Sustainable Energy
Agency that we will be advocating for at Commission on Sustainable
> Michael Dorsey: Carbon trading: a big problem as far as the Kyoto
Protocol goes. The World Bank realized a decade ago that it was funding
fossil fuels over renewables by 20-1 and it was a conflict of interest.
There are no regulatory agencies to track the international carbon
trading market. There is no real link between carbon trading and
emissions reductions. We have to think broadly. Humans are not the
problem but oil is slick. Exxon Mobil has had the highest profits of a
corporation ever in 2005. Oil companies are driving global warming. What
should we do: 1) Not an adaptation fund, but a petroleum rescue fund for
those victimized by global warming (150,000 die each year); 2) Contain
the carbon cartel, the polluter pays and a democratized, renewable
energy revolution; 3) Criminal investigations of those running the oil
companies. (The Inuit have taken the first step by going to the Inter
American Court of Human Rights for redress); 4) Stop the pusher man; end
petroleum and automobile advertising. 5) Justice for all means injustice
for oil and auto.
> Bracken Hendricks: Thanks to SEIU for hosting this. We need more
people in the room given the threat we’re facing. I’m glad that building
the political will and broadening out is part of this panel. The Apollo
Alliance is named for getting a man on the moon in a decade in the ‘60s.
The U.S. marshaled the resources of the country to do it. We need
leadership and mass mobilization around the climate. We’re reaching out.
So far, we have 100 businesses, 22 unions and the AFL-CIO, a range of
enviro groups, 12 civil rights, 100 groups at local level, 9 states have
coalitions. People need to see their self-interest in clean energy. The
crisis and awareness is growing because the consequences are at hand:
hurricanes, war, CA. energy crisis, abandonment of Kyoto, wildfires,
mercury pollution, Exxon record profits, oil imports lead to dollars
going overseas. We have to go beyond the usual suspects. We need to
reframe this so this issue is brought into everything – a framework for
a core progressive agenda. Government for people and against corporate
power. The biggest challenge is articulating a vision for survival and
what it can mean. There’s lots of anger concerning high oil profits that
we need to tap into. There’s a regressive shift in wealth and profits.
Support a windfall tax and a fund for renewables. People feel the
peace/security/oil connection. There’s a health care crisis in the auto
industry; demand that they retool. Sierra Club and Steelworkers Union
are working together. Infrastructure investments are needed, global
development of energy alternatives. Involve farmers, security hawks,
labor, people of faith. Speak where people are, organize where you are.
> Ross Gelbspan: We have less than 10 years to avoid a point of no
return. We need a 70% reduction. Three strategies will do it:
> Changing Subsidies. Shift $200 billion in fossil fuel subsidies
internationally to renewables. Corporations will follow the money and
this will also encourage energy entrepreneurs.
> A Fund to Transfer Renewables to Poor Countries. Poor countries would
love to go solar. We need $300 billion a year for 10 years. Several ways
of getting that: a carbon tax, a tax on international airline travel, a
¼ of a penny tax on international currency transactions. This is a way
of creating many millions of new jobs and building more equitable
economies. We have to avoid environmental colonialism via countries
owning 51% of operations.
> A Regulatory Mechanism for 5%/year Fossil Fuel Efficiency. Every
country starts at its current fossil fuel use as baseline and each year
increase efficiency by 5%. At first will happen through becoming more
efficient, then renewables, which will create the markets and economies
of scale to make them competitive with oil and gas. It’s easy to
measure: carbon fuel consumption compared to GDP, as compared to
difficulties of measuring what’s really happening with carbon
trading/markets. All of this would bring home that we are living on a
planet with limits, a whole new ethic of sustainability. It would put
democratic boundaries around fossil fuel corporations, move past
nationalism to a global consciousness and advance our social evolution.
> Following discussion from the floor and some closing words from CCC
organizer Ted Glick, the conference adjourned.
> To connect with any of the speakers and resource people mentioned
above, or to find out more, contact Ted at usajointheworld at igc.org.
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