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SoCal Climate Action Coalition affiliates with

The corporate interests that have co-opted a good part of the environmental movement scored another victory on June 9 when the Southern California Climate Action Coalition voted to become a group.

The decision came despite the opposition of two members who argued that was a front-group for transnational corporations, and that fighting the northern leg of Keystone instead of fighting all tar sands extraction had been a mistake.

The SoCal Climate Action Coalition was initiated by the executive director at a local environmental NGO that works with businesses and local government. The coalition began as the Forward on Climate Working Group, "Forward on Climate" being the pro-Obama logo adopted by and the Sierra Club for their national rallies on February 17. The Los Angeles march and rally drew more than 1,000 people, leaving the coalition optimistic about its ability to organize events.

As a series of articles published in Counterpunch explain, was founded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in order to keep the climate movement working within the capitalist system (and the Democratic Party) and to prevent the emergence of a movement that challenged this system. One funder of states that it is “working to create solutions to climate change that are compatible with economic growth.”

One criticism of the proposal to affiliate that was brought up was's focus on the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline to the exclusion of other more significant targets. As Michael Leonardi wrote in Counterpunch,
"The Rockefellers and Obama have found a new front man in Bill McKibben it seems. All will do is spread the word to its minions about this single issue while continuing to ignore the grim reality of the Tar Sands that are already being refined all across this country, the dangers of Nuclear Power and a whole host of energy fiascos. It was all set up to pull in the most gullible of the Big environmental groups under one big tent of blinded voters."

It so happens that local refineries in Wilmington are already refining tar sands oil shipped in by rail. This is an issue being fought by Communities for a Better Environment, which is not associated with the SoCal Coalition.

Another related issue alluded to above's pro-Obama messaging. The brand was created by corporate advertising giants hired by the Rockefellers and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities. It, along with the Sierra Club, used a variation on the Obama brand on their signs and banners for the February 17th rallies. These well-funded NGOs have made an implicit promise to their supporters: if people supported Obama through the 2008 and 2012 elections, he would in turn do something about global warming. Obama's response on February 17 was to play golf with oil executives as environmentalists in Obama t-shirts and pins rallied outside an empty White House.

Since his February 17th defeat, leader Bill McKibben has moved on to pressuring private universities to divest from energy industries (but presumably not from nuclear energy industries). But in a sign of desperation, he is still urging people to get arrested protesting against Keystone, which is close to being approved by the president he supports.

At the SoCal Climate Action Coalition meeting, the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of affiliation with, even before coalition's founder packed the meeting with people from the Sierra Club. Most argued that the coalition needed's brand and "resources." This is precisely the language that business unions use to dissuade workers from joining the IWW, when faced with competition from the latter in a potential organizing drive, and this is hardly coincidental.

The the agenda was set in secret, with the proposal being the only new business. The person chairing the meeting made proposals, argued for and against proposals, decided how long people could talk, and voted. One of the chair's proposals was that proposals be decided by 60% majority. The chair then vocally opposed a counterproposal to decide by consensus, arguing that the coalition needed to avoid a "tyranny of the minority."

Once the vote had been taken, that anti-capitalist minority left the coalition. Unity was achieved through purging, which is a common practice in hierchical organizations.

This unwillingness to honestly debate the issues and a lack of experience with democratic processes, typical of business unions and NGOs, will not encourage radicals to get involved. A recent protest the coalition carried out at an Obama fundraiser demonstrated this. People felt that the protests were "segregated" between the Keystone (and only Keystone) group and a younger, more diverse group of immigrants protesting Obama's record deportations. As actions to actually effect change, the protests didn't matter except as a form of expression and communication, and the way the climate coalition tightly controlled the message on their corner didn't make a good impression on the youth.

Articles on

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse

Mainstream Green Groups Cave In on Climate
Dangerously Allow Industry to Set Agenda

The Corporate Money Behind McKibben’s Divestment Tour

Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New | More $ – More Delusion

The BIG ASK Climate Retreat was held from 11-13 July 2007. The programs relevance was promoted as sustainable development for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities.

‘Leaders’ from across the climate movement joined with experts in the field of communications, branding, online organizing, and messaging to turn an idea into a campaign. Putting the pieces in place to spark this movement was the mandate for a meeting at Rockefeller Pocantico Centre. At this meeting, a presentation by Brand Taxi led to the selection of a name for the campaign: 1Sky. Presentations by the founders of and helped refine an online organizing strategy. Conversations about communications strategy flowed from a presentation by J. Walter Thompson (JWT). Detailed discussions about the heart of the campaign – the policy platform around which it would be hubbed – led to the finalization of the ‘big ask.’ JWT is one of the largest advertising agencies in the United States and the fourth-biggest in the world. JWT clients include the richest and most powerful corporations such as Shell. Finally, “the magic of Pocantico helped assure that each participant in the meeting became a partner in the campaign”. The 1Sky communications strategy was created by Fenton Communications, the nation’s ‘foremost media/communications firm’ for the non-profit industrial complex.

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