inclusive organizing on climate change

colist at colist at
Wed Jun 14 16:40:37 CDT 2006

[ed: the message Larry sends is reposted with permission]

From: Larry Yates <llyates at>

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>
 > Date: June 13, 2006 9:10:36 AM EDT
 > To: "usa join" <usajointheworld at>
 > 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
 > *************
 > Ted Glick
 > 973-338-5398
 > usajointheworld at
 > 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 
morning presentations.
 > 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 
be done.
 > 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 (; 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 
ClimateUSA platform:
 > Calling for support for the Climate Stewardship Act (CSA), The Kyoto 
Protocol, and
 > 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 
energy projects.
 > 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 
25, 2006.
 > 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 
and rally.)
 > - 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 
environmental) pricing.
 > 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

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