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Season 2 Ep. 2 - Real Climate Solution or False Promise? Here's How to Tell

Movement Generation Works to Usher in a Sustainable Just Transition

By Aric Sleeper - CounterPunch, April 4, 2022

In the mid-2000s, when the documentary featuring former Vice President Al Gore, “An Inconvenient Truth,” first alerted viewers that human activity was drastically altering the environment, and global warming would insidiously thaw the North and South poles and raise the sea levels, urban organizers like Mateo Nube heard the warning loud and clear. Nube quickly banded together with other activists in the San Francisco Bay Area to educate their communities about humanity’s devastating impacts on the environment and what needed to be done to try to abate the eventual irreparable changes by shifting people’s views about the economy, which was contributing to the environmental degradation.

“At that time, most of my peers in urban organizing weren’t even discussing climate change,” says Nube. “Once we started digging into it, we realized our peers organizing in Miami might be underwater 50 years from now, and that climate change was a symptom of a much deeper set of interlocking crises rooted in industrial extractivism.”

In 2006, Nube and his colleagues co-founded the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project to create an analytical foundation for organizers interested in the relationship between ecology and social justice, and as a hub for strategic organizing efforts through workshops, retreats and campaign development.

More than 15 years later, with undeniable signs of climate change becoming more apparent in the form of extreme weather events, which are being experienced with growing frequency every year, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nube and other longtime organizers are trying very hard not to say, “I told you so.”

“Fifteen years ago [just after we started Movement Generation], a lot of our work was about being a proactive Chicken Little of sorts, telling folks that things are really dramatic, but now we’re way past that,” says Nube. “In the last five years, it’s easy to see that change is afoot.”

Movement Generation’s first weeklong retreat in 2007 united Bay Area activists to simply unpack the climate crisis and its origins. Nube found that the initial retreat’s participants were shocked by the information, and ready to act, but they didn’t know what the abatement of climate change looked like in practice.

“To use a ‘Matrix’ parallel, folks came out of the retreat saying, ‘We’ve eaten your red pill, so what’s next?’” says Nube. “But the retreat was a grand experiment, and the outcome was to really start thinking about what the work of creating a just transition looks like on the ground.”

Since then, Movement Generation’s annual weeklong retreat has become its flagship program. Other organizations have branched off from Movement Generation’s efforts, like the Climate Justice Alliance and Seed Commons, which all have their frameworks based in the philosophy and practices of a just transition. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a just transition is the process of shifting from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy.

“To put it another way, a just transition is moving from a banks and tanks economy to a sharing and caring economy, or moving from a me and I stance to a we and us stance, as we digest and process a very dramatic reality [resulting from the climate crisis] on the planet Earth,” says Nube.

One key strategy to ensure a just transition in the scope of the environment, according to Nube, is to relocalize, which Movement Generation facilitates through their programs like Earth Skills and regionally focused EcoSchools workshops. Meanwhile, Movement Generation’s four-part workshop series Course Correction examines the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means to move forward within the framework of a just transition.

“In January 2020, when the pandemic started to become serious, we realized that this outcome had been a part of our instructional course material for some time,” says Nube. “If you’re continually paving over vibrant ecosystems and constraining the capacity for the species in an ecosystem to thrive, one of the things that will happen is that a virus will jump and spread. The industrial economy and corporate capitalist globalization have created a system of viral superhighways.”

Nube and others at Movement Generation moved their workshops primarily online and soon found that they were reaching thousands instead of hundreds of people. They also realized how economic inequities were highlighted in the context of the pandemic, and that large-scale social support is possible when backed by political resolve.

“We saw how easy it could be to build something else and transform systems when the political will is there,” says Nube. “There’s a lot of potential in the knowledge that all systems are human creations and can be changed. They’re not ordained and fixed by a deity. That’s a gift that the pandemic gave us, with the contradiction of what it means to have a pandemic that’s so destructive.”

Nube points out that the pandemic and all other environmental crises humanity currently endures were created by outdated economic systems and attitudes founded in racism and exploitation, and enforced with violence. One of the critical flaws in the mainstream environmental movement, according to Nube, is to think of conservation as something that is outside the influence of human systems.

“The military infrastructure that enforces white supremacy and anti-Blackness is the same system that facilitates the… [destruction] of the Earth. You can’t disconnect one from the other,” says Nube.

Richmond Progressive Alliance Listening Project, Episode 9: We Deserve Nothing Less

Richmond Progressive Alliance Listening Project, Episode 10: Imagine

Richmond Progressive Alliance Listening Project, Episode 8: Union Proud

Climate Solutions from the Frontlines of Environmental Justice

(Video) A Climate Jobs Plan for Rhode Island

By various - ILR Worker Institute - March 4, 2022

On Friday, March 4, researchers from Cornell University joined with leaders of the Climate Jobs RI coalition, a group of labor, climate, and community groups in Rhode Island, and discussed a new report unveiled last month that outlined a comprehensive action plan to put RI on the path to becoming the first fully decarbonized state and building an equitable, pro-worker, clean energy economy.

Watch the panel here:

Fossil Fuel Phaseout–From Below

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 2022

Protecting the climate requires rapidly reducing the extraction of fossil fuels. That’s a crucial part of the Green New Deal. While the federal government has done little so far to reduce fossil fuel production, people and governments all over the country are taking steps on their own to cut down the extraction of coal, oil, and gas.

Introduction

The U.S. needs to cut around 60% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 to reach zero net emissions by 2050.[1] The world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2022 and 2030 to reach the Paris goal of 1.5°C. Countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 will result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit.[2]

In the previous two commentaries in this series we have shown how initiatives from cities, states, and civil society organizations are expanding climate-safe energy production and reducing energy use through energy efficiency and conservation. These are essential aspects of reducing climate-destroying greenhouse gas emissions, but in themselves they will not halt the burning of fossil fuels. That requires action on the “supply side” – freezing new fossil fuel infrastructure and accelerating the closing of existing production facilities. That is often referred to as a “phaseout” or “managed decline” of fossil fuels.

Such a phaseout of fossil fuel production is necessary to meet the goals of the Green New Deal and President Joe Biden’s climate proposals. The original 2018 Green New Deal resolution submitted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a national 10-year mobilization to achieve 100% of national power generation from renewable sources. Biden’s Build Back Better plan sought 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and net zero GHG emissions by 2050. These goals cannot be met without reducing the amount of fossil fuel that is actually extracted from the earth.[3]

While the US government and corporations are failing to effectively reduce the mining and drilling of fossil fuels, hundreds of efforts at a sub-national level are already cutting their extraction. 50 US cities are already powered entirely by clean and renewable sources of energy. 180 US cities are committed to 100% clean energy.[4] According to a report by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International, Indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions.[5] Such reductions are an essential part of a widespread but little-recognized movement we have dubbed the “Green New Deal from Below.”[6]

Statement on UN IPCC Climate Report

By staff - Climate Justice Alliance, March 1, 2022

Climate Justice Alliance Calls on White House, Congress, UN to Center Frontline Wisdom/Solutions & Reject False Techno Fixes Accelerating Climate Change

We must keep fossil fuels in the ground; If we take anything away from Part 2 of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment, that should be it. Like so many times before, once again we find ourselves calling on the White House and Congress, and all world leaders to act boldly and courageously to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions at their source.

As Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) Co-Executive Director, Ozawa Bineshi Albert pointed out after participating in the most recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), “we must act with an urgency that is not happening now and we need community leaders experiencing harm to lead with solutions.”

Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of the working group that issued the report explains, “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet… Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.

However, we cannot rely on unproven fossil fuel industry backed, techno-fixes and market schemes that are really just band-aid approaches to solving the climate crisis: practices that do not guarantee a reduction or elimination of emissions at their source, such as geoengineering approaches like carbon capture and storage, solar radiation management, carbon removal and the like. We must safeguard Earth and all her creatures for generations to come. That means stopping the harm that continues to pollute her for future generations. We must center frontline solutions that are grounded in a Just Transition as we move away from the dig, burn, and dump economy to local, community-controlled renewable and regenerative models that reduce emissions while building community wealth and justice at every turn. 

Together with 1,140 organizations and as a part of the Build Back Fossil Free Coalition in a letter issued last week, we called on President Biden to use his Executive powers to immediately 1) ban all new oil and gas contracts on federal areas, 2) stop approving fossil fuel projects, and 3) declare a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act that will unlock special powers to fast track renewable projects that will benefit us all.

Additionally, as this report rightly points out, the United States must pay its fair share as the major culprit of climate change and heed the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples as we craft real solutions and reject false ones that will only serve to accelerate climate chaos in Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, and other low-income and vulnerable communities. We must invest in mitigation and adaptation resources for all frontline communities, in the Global South, and all other nations immediately. 

At the same time that the United Nations was preparing to craft this damning report on the fossil fuel industry, the largest delegation of badged participants at the COP26 were fossil fuel lobbyists. Only a few from vulnerable and most impacted communities were allowed in. This is unacceptable – the UN must end rules that restrict and keep out those most impacted by climate change from fully participating in future climate change conferences. Finally, we call on the UN to end its long practice of bowing to pressure from fossil corporations and member nations aligned with them, and reject false solutions that enable polluters to continue business as usual while doing nothing to stop emissions at their source.

This most recent IPCC Assessment focuses on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation. An upcoming section in April will focus on ways to reduce emissions, and the final part will present lessons to member states during the next Climate Change Conference (COP27) to be held in Egypt. If the nations of the world truly want to solve the climate crisis they will heed the calls of those most impacted and look to them to lead rather than those who created the crisis in the first place; here in the United States that looks like addressing this issue as the emergency that it already is.

Workers and Riders Unite for Transit Equity Day

By Bakari Height - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 2022

For the past four years on February 4, Labor Network for Sustainability and a network of transit rider unions, community organizations, environmental groups and labor unions have organized Transit Equity Day (TED)–a national day of action to commemorate the birthday of Rosa Parks by declaring public transit a civil right. This year, TED made a big splash. Two states (Wisconsin and Minnesota) passed formal proclamations that declared February 4th Transit Equity Day—as did dozens of cities. Local transit activists organized more than 60 events across the country, LNS hosted a massive livestream, and we launched a transit equity workforce investment report with some of our partners!

This year, Transit Equity Day showcased many of the local transit organizers and their heroic efforts in making sure that Transit Equity remains a top priority in planning and maintaining our transit systems. Whether it was Fort Wayne, Indiana, Buffalo, New York, Atlanta, or Wisconsin, our network put Transit Equity front and center. And thanks for special guest appearances by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Department of Transportation Administrator Nuria Fernandez – see the Secretary interview the Administrator at https://twitter.com/SecretaryPete/status/1489634427630141444?s=20&t=EJ9WFljXJeUkxa35CtziSg

Let’s continue to make our voices louder and our presence stronger.

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