Category: The Climate Justice Movement

Column: It’s time to promote, encourarge, support grassroots efforts to combat climate change

It’s time to promote, encourarge, support grassroots efforts to combat climate change (Guest viewpoint)

In this June 3, 2017, file photo, the coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation's top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Ga. A recent poll finds that less than a third of Americans support President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, with just 18 percent of respondents agreeing with his claim that pulling out of the international agreement to reduce carbon emissions will help the U.S. economy.(AP Photo/Branden Camp, File)
In this June 3, 2017, file photo, the coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Ga. A recent poll finds that less than a third of Americans support President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, with just 18 percent of respondents agreeing with his claim that pulling out of the international agreement to reduce carbon emissions will help the U.S. economy.(AP Photo/Branden Camp, File)
 

Since May 31, the world is talking climate change, I am happy to say. Most of the message is angry and scornful of the Trump Administration’s plan to exit the Paris Climate Change Accord. President Trump has rejected the United States’ leadership role in preventing climate disaster in favor of continued profits for the oil, gas and coal industries. That act was the crowning blow in his battle against environmental responsibility. The offensive has included the appointment of oil well huggers Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, Ryan Zinke and Rex Tillerson; executive orders that reopened federal lands to mining and drilling; budgetary gutting of the EPA and all other renewable energy programs: and suspension of the Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from U.S. power plants.

Trump’s ultimately leaving the Climate Change Treaty was not unexpected, but it was foolish. The biggest issue of course is its damage to the planet. A Washington consultancy, the Climate Advisors, predicts that Trump’s climate policy will cause U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which have been falling, to begin to flatten or increase by 2020, and to inject an extra half-billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2025. Global warming will increase, leading tomore killer heat waves, superstorms, drought, crop failure, melting ice and rising seas.

 

But there is mounting worldwide recognition of the economic and public health advantages to a rapid transition to conservation and renewable energy. Industrial and job growth is booming in the field of solar and wind energy. The U.S. not only will be stigmatized by its immoral stand towards the world’s climate future, it simply will not be able to compete in a rapidly changing world.

Recognizing the danger and the opportunity, local and state leaders are filling the vacuum left by the federal government. As of this writing, more than 350 mayors representing 65.8 million Americans in 44 states have signed on to the “Climate Mayors” coalition. Springfield’s Mayor Domenic Sarno was one of them.

Aligning with the other 194 nations that adopted and remain in the accord, they pledged to “continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.”

Thirteen states, including Massachusetts, have joined the pledge to Paris. The twelve are home to a third of Americans. Gov. Jerry Brown of California has met with Chinese leadership to consider ways to work together to develop and adopt renewable energy technology. China has replaced the U.S. in the clean energy arena and California leads U.S. states in its climate goals and controls.

 

Trump’s ignorance and greed on behalf of the fossil fuel industry may have sparked a new awareness among those who are paying attention: this is a fight that must be fought from the grassroots. Our federal government, at least for now, is firmly backing the other side.

In Massachusetts, there is a raft of initiatives on the legislative agenda that would catapult our state into the forefront of the battle against climate change. An environmental coalition is backing plans to achieve electricity powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and siting green jobs in high-unemployment communities like Springfield. There are also strong bills in Boston for carbon pollution pricing, grid up-grades, electric vehicles, and countless other conservation measures. It is up to us to make sure that our legislators know that we are not fooled by Trump, that we support conservation and renewable energy and we expect the same from them. Call them.

Unfortunately, parts of the present Massachusetts budget run contrary to the direction we must take. The budget shortfall has hit the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, which is threatening to cut back on and eliminate routes that are necessary to those who don’t have or don’t want to use cars. I only found out because I ride two of those buses, the P21 Express and the B48, to Springfield to my job.

 

This is a climate justice issue. Low income people will be hit particularly hard, losing their means of commuting, shopping, caring for family members. On the other hand, we are a society that must begin to abandon our cars in favor of less fuel-burning alternatives. Public transit must be expanded, not contracted. The PVTA does not have nearly the number or frequency of routes to be easily usable by most people. Public buses are necessary to fight climate change and support economic equity.

There have been several hearings about the bus route eliminations, with round denunciations of the cuts. Check out the proposed changes and send your opinions at http://www.pvta.com/info4.php. This is a chance to think globally and act locally.

Marty Nathan is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield and lives in Northampton.

Susan Theberge: Rising up to meet this moment

Rising up to meet this moment

Susan Theberge, CAN Newsletter Editor

Ready or not, we are called upon to meet this moment in history. What can we draw on as sources of strength, encouragement and resiliency? We would love to hear the thoughts of our readers. To get us started I offer a few reflections.

We belong to each other 
Let’s join together to protect each other from harm and create safety for those at risk. In doing so we deepen our trust and build unity across different struggles.

Care for ourselves and each other
We are in this for the long haul. We need healthy ways to cope when things feel overwhelming.  And relationships that support us and our work together.

We are stronger when we join together.
History teaches us that sustained mass action is our greatest source of power. Look to those who came before us for inspiration and courage.

Be guided by our love for this earth and the sacredness of all its inhabitants
Affirm the interconnection of all life and ground all we do in the principles of non-violent action.

Welcome others into the work.
Let’s find ways to connect with people new to this work and support everyone in finding their place. We can challenge ourselves to listen more attentively, hear more deeply, and respond with more kindness and understanding.

Incorporate climate justice into all our work 
Ground our work in justice, equity and the awareness that environmental justice communities are disproportionately impacted by the forces driving climate change, and are more vulnerable to and impacted by the results of climate change.

Accept leadership from those most affected 
Recognizing that our views, beliefs and perceptions are conditioned by our past experience and where we stand in life, honor leadership from those most affected by climate change in any particular situation.

Fierce love will save this place.
Climate Action Now is a home for everyone who wants to be part of building a vibrant, unstoppable climate justice movement. Please join us.

Climate Justice a Spotlight on Springfield TV

By Dineen O’Rourke

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In Springfield, environmental racism has been threatening one of humanity’s basic rights for years – the right to breathe. 1 in 5 people in the city have asthma, a rate that sharply increases for children and people of color.1 “We have to stop taking the air we breathe for granted,” shared Michaelann Bewsee, founder and organizer of Arise for Social Justice.

To highlight this issue, the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) recently organized a panel filmed live on Focus Springfield Community TV, bringing together representatives of local and statewide organizations working towards environmental and climate justice. The panel, hosted by Springfield Ward 1 City Councilor Adam Gomez, featured Michaelann Bewsee of Arise, as well as Claire Miller, community organizer at Toxics Action Center, Ivette Hernandez from Keep Springfield Beautiful, and Jesse Lederman, spokesperson for Stop Toxic Incineration Springfield.

Watch the stream of the entire panel discussion here.

Over 20% of children in Springfield have asthma, which is more than double the statewide rate of childhood asthma, and 50% higher than the national average. This rate almost triples for African American and Latino children in Springfield.1 This is what environmental racism looks like.

Ivette Hernandez spoke of being a single mother of three children while living in the North End, one of the most low-income areas of the city. One of her children has chronic asthma, which has caused upwards of 15 school absences a year. “The lack of accountability and action from our city’s government on these issues is unacceptable,” she said, adding that low-income communities like the North End are treated as “less than human.”

With over 500 known gas leaks in the city and a proposal to build a new toxic biomass incinerator, Springfield is heading in the wrong direction of fixing this asthma emergency, even though these organizations have been highlighting problems like this for years. Two years ago we marched to the Springfield City Hall and witnessed the unanimous vote to pass the Climate Action Resolution developed by the SCJC. The determined hope was palpable in the air of the courtroom. From the Springfield high school students who spoke about climate change, to the parents of children with asthma, and from religious leaders to community organizers, everyone had a pertinent story to share about why climate justice is the necessary path for Springfield.

But now, over two years later, Mayor Domenic Sarno still has not implemented the Climate Action Plan that his government unanimously passed. The SCJC has increased their pressure by demanding a Climate Justice Plan, one that would employ Springfield residents to alleviate the city’s unemployment issues. “We don’t want a climate change plan. We want a climate justice plan,” Michaelann voiced on the panel.

There’s a critical need for a framework of race and class politics when discussing sustainability and climate action. Without these frameworks, the constant push for renewable energy and electric vehicles from wealthy environmentalists becomes isolating and polarizing for those unable to afford such solutions. We are not going to buy ourselves out of climate change; our emotional and societal dependence on consumerism is part of the very problem that laid the groundwork for climate change. The changes we require come from collective action and dedicated grassroots organizing. We are not free until everyone is free.

Climate Action Now is one of the co-founding organizations of the SCJC. Our work has also included organizing against the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct, a pipeline that would have carried gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, from Pennsylvania through New England. After a two-year-long grassroots movement, with a wide array of strategies, Kinder Morgan withdrew their pipeline application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and our struggle became a success.

Yet even with this recent victory, fracked gas and methane will continue to be a threat in our region – our work is not over. Springfield is now organizing against a dangerous amount of methane leaks in the city’s gas heating system, with over 500 discovered in the city in one year alone. “These streets can explode at any given time,” remarked Jesse Lederman. “It’s unacceptable.”

Not only does this gas leak into the atmosphere, rapidly accelerating climate change and increasing the risk of asthma and neurotoxin disorders, it also is an economic loss that falls on the backs of electric ratepayers in the city. Home Energy Efficiency Team estimated that in 2014 alone, this escaped gas accumulated to a loss of $2.3 million. Northampton is facing almost 100 known gas leaks, believed to be have cost ratepayers $600,000 in 2014. The SCJC is currently awaiting a response from a letter sent to Colombia Gas, the city’s electric utility company, requesting a meeting to discuss this issue. You can sign this petition to demand Colombia fix these leaks immediately. “Yes, fixing the leaks can be costly,” remarked Ivette Hernandez. “But we have a lot of people here looking for jobs,” echoing the interconnected justice aspect of the Climate Justice Plan.

As City Councilor Adam Gomez aptly stated to close the panel, “creating real change in our community will begin with real unity.” In a world rapidly warming world with rising seas and increased pollution, hope can understandably be a difficult emotion to turn to. Our hope for a better world becomes more actualized when we come together and take collective action.Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.40.05 PM

Get involved with the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition!

What: SCJC Monthly Meeting
When: Wednesday, June 8, 6pm
Where: Arise for Social Justice office, Springfield
RSVP: (413) 734-4948

This meeting is open to all interested in being apart of the campaign to make Springfield a most just, sustainable, and healthy place for all. Whether you were apart of the founding of the coalition or you know little about climate change, all are welcome to learn about the work of this inspiring coalition.

 

Dineen O’Rourke is a student at Hampshire College and an organizer with Climate Action Now. Follow her on Twitter: @dineenorourke.

 

References

  1. Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition

BIG New-England-wide BOSTON MARCH, RALLY and ACTIONS Sat DEC 12. Join us!

PART 1: RALLY-MARCH  from 1-3 on BOSTON COMMON (bandstand)

Our movement comes together for a big rally at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common.  We will then march through the streets to the Boston State House.

click here for more info, and to RSVP to facebook event for this action

PART 2: ACTIONS IN AND AROUND QUINCY MARKET/FANUEL HALL 3:30-5:30

We need singers, dancers, banner holders, people to speak out, film and photo, people to talk to passers by and hand out info.  Something for everyone!

SIGN UP FOR many ACTIONS HERE

click here for more info, and to RSVP to facebook event for this action – this is the “Change of Service T Action”

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Do you want to take a bus with us? Sign up here!!

tinyurl.com/BusToRally

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Carpools from Northampton:

Carpooling to Boston for 12/12  march and rally will gather at 10:15 at the Northampton Norwottock rail trail parking lot (which is located at the end of Damon Rd) and we will depart promptly at 10:30 am.

It is great if folks could contact me (Marty Nathan at martygjf@comcast.net or 413-531-9915) beforehand but just showing up is perfectly acceptable

 

boston

 

 

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Climate Justice as the Basis of the Springfield Climate Action and Resiliency Plan

Climate Justice as the Basis of the Springfield Climate Action and Resiliency Plan

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition is dedicated to ensuring that climate justice is the basis of every aspect of the city’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, from design and implementation to evaluation and modification.

Climate justice begins with the recognition that low-income individuals and communities, people of color and indigenous people bear a disproportionate impact on their health and lives from environmental pollution and climate change. It ensures that a just transition creates economic and other opportunities for those who have been most affected by climate change. Climate justice acknowledges the debt owed to the community by those who have benefited economically from the burning of fossil fuels, and does not allow financial institutions and corporations to exercise undue influence on the climate change planning process.

Because low-income people and people of color have relatively little power, their neighborhoods are more likely to be chosen for toxic dumping, extractive processes, refineries, factories and transportation infrastructure. They are more likely to live with air, water and soil pollution. Climate change places additional burdens on the poor, who do not have the financial resources to move away from rising waters, to install air conditioning to survive heat waves, to grow food on marginal lands, or to afford the rising price of food caused by droughts and floods.

Our carbon-based economy must necessarily evolve to meet the challenge of climate change, providing Springfield with both the opportunity and the responsibility to place climate justice at the center of its climate change planning. With the rapid growth of solar and other renewable energy industries, and with growing support by the federal government for a “Green New Deal,” we have an opportunity to remake our communities with an eye to healing the economic divide, empowering those who have been powerless, strengthening our democracy, and creating a more just and sustainable society. A thoughtful, rapid, and responsible transition to a just, clean, and low-carbon economy will develop new jobs, create new community organizations, and integrate into our political and economic structure the people who until now have been marginalized and under-served.

We offer the City of Springfield our time, energy and support as we work together to carry out these principles and reach these goals.

1.       All decision-making processes that are undertaken by government and industry in regard to climate change must be open and transparent, and must be translated into the languages spoken by our city’s low-income, immigrant, and marginalized communities.

2.       All decision-making processes that are undertaken in regard to climate change must include poor and indigenous people, people of color, and their legitimate representatives. Members and representatives of these communities must be directly involved in formulating the approach, issues, questions, and possible solutions, and participants should receive compensation for their work. In many instances interpreters will be necessary, and will be provided as part of the process.

3.       The jobs that are created in the process of addressing climate change, which might include planning, surveying, communicating, installing renewable energy, installing insulation, sealing leaky pipes, shoring up dams, planting trees, building and driving new public transit including bike paths, will go preferentially to members of local environmental justice communities and their organizations.

4.       The immediate co-benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation will also be ensured for these communities. For example, these communities can have ready, affordable access to renewable energy and to insulation. Industries polluting their neighborhoods can be the first to be converted to non-polluting energy sources. Dikes can be built for low-lying neighborhoods and plans developed to ensure safe evacuation. Public transit can be expanded, and public support provided for community gardens and for food coops that sell locally grown sustainable food. Already-existing local businesses can be patronized; trees can be planted; green space can be created and protected from development; and solid waste reduction and recycling can be made more effective and convenient.

5. Fighting climate change means educating a new generation of students who can become experts in sustainability.  Society will need specialists in every field – from engineering to biology, science writing to environmental ethics, solar installation to organic agriculture – who have the skills to help transform society.  Resources for this purpose must be given to our region’s public schools.  Culturally appropriate environmental studies, including opportunities for urban youth to connect with the land and to have hands-on learning outdoors in natural settings, must become a core component of our children’s education.  Our local colleges and UMass/Amherst can and should recruit students from Climate Justice neighborhoods so that young people can help their communities to thrive.

      6.       Asthma, COPD, heart and vascular disease will be aggressively treated in the neighborhoods that have borne the brunt of air pollution. Adequate and affordable health care will be provided for all, including the undocumented.

Springfield is rich in diversity and brings together the talents and cultures of many people. We can and must be leaders in our region. Together, we can prepare for climate change, reduce our city’s carbon footprint, and build a more just and sustainable community.

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition

 

Nov 29 Global Climate March: Amherst, Northampton, Spingfield, Athol Join 2,330 actions around the globe!

On the eve of the big U.N summit in Paris, the climate movement is taking to the streets. With climate change in the global spotlight, this is our chance to make the talks work for our movement. This is our chance to set the agenda for ambition.

Our message: keep fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Please help spead the word! by sharing and rsvp’ing these facebook events for northampton,amherst,springfield!
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ATHOL DEtAILS:

Residents and Friends of the the North Quabbin Region are invited to our Global Climate March from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, Sunday, November 29th
We invite folks Join the March – bring signs and banners;  read a short message or sing a song;  bring hand drums, string or wind instruments;  or just come to witness and support the March.
Many of the major environmental and Climate Justice Action groups in the North Quabbin Region have joined as Sponsors of the March, including:  Earthlands, North Quabbin Energy;  NQ Pipeline Action, Mt. Grace Conservation Land Trust, Sacred Earth Network, Ritual Expressions, N.Q. Women in Black, Petersham Energy Committee, Ritual Expressions, Common  Grow, and many others.
Speakers and musicians are getting lined-up.
After the March, all are invited to the Annual Earthlands Thanksgiving Potluck & Gathering at 39 Glasheen Road, Petersham, MA 01366 for good food, amazing music, stimulating conversation, and inspiring community.

SEE ALL EVENTS  https://secure.avaaz.org/en/event/globalclimatemarch

MOre info http://globalclimatemarch.org/en/

Ferocious Love Will Save This Place.

Deirdre1

 

 

 

 

 

Blockadia and Ferocious Love: This is how it’s done.

Naomi Klein describes Ferocious Love and Blockadia in her book, “This Changes Everything”:

The power of this ferocious love is what the resource companies and their advocates in government inevitably underestimate, precisely because no amount of money can extinguish it. When what is being fought for is an identity, a culture, a beloved place that people are determined to pass on to their grandchildren, and that their ancestors may have paid for with great sacrifice, there is nothing companies can offer as a bargaining chip. No safety pledge will assuage; no bribe will be big enough. And though this kind of connection to place is surely strongest in Indigenous communities where the ties to the land go back thousands of years, it is in fact Blockadia’s defining feature.

 

A weekly vigil has sprung up in Northfield at the proposed site of a compresser station. This action started with one or two people. Last week it was 25.

Many people have been working tirelessly to stop the monstrosity that is the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.  From understanding the complexities of the energy business, politics, and law, to spreading the word, making phone calls, contacting legislators, speaking up, writing, organizing, learning,  documenting the fight and the beauty of this place, making signs and standing, standing up. This is the latest installation in our story of ferocious love for our land, the region, the habitat, the creatures that share this place with us,  and our children.

“Love will save this place”.

Click here for an Yes Magazine interview with Naomi Klein, speaks about Blockadia.

Click here for Info on the vigil in Northfield, Gulf Road every Thursday 4:30-5:30

Deirdre2 Deirdre3

 

Thank you, Deirdre Derchin Olson for these gorgeous photos!

Article featuring CAN work

The year 2014 was the warmest ever recorded. Every region of the United States except Hawaii has seen more extreme precipitation episodes in the last 10 years, led by the Northeast with a stunning 71 percent increase.

This past winter’s snowfall records in Boston and elsewhere are consistent with climate predictions that warmer ocean temperatures feed storms with moisture, causing the blizzards and heavy rains we’ve been experiencing

Whether it’s flooding in the Northeast or drought in the Southwest, climate change is affecting all of us. This is the “new normal.” Although the science has been clear, world leaders have spent the last quarter-century doing little to address the crisis. We now have a small window of time left to prevent climate catastrophe. The U.N. Environment Program says we need to reach “net zero carbon” by century’s end — this will probably require stopping almost all fossil fuel usage worldwide by around 2050. To succeed, we need to start cutting back right now.

One heartening development is the rise of grassroots groups of people across the country and around the world discovering ways to prevent climate chaos and create positive and equitable solutions. The Valley is home to Climate Action NOW (CAN), a diverse grassroots community of people connected by our passion to preserve a livable world and create a more just society. We work to build coalitions that inspire, educate and organize individuals and groups working on climate change issues.

CAN serves as the Pioneer Valley branch of 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future (350Mass), a volunteer-led statewide climate action network. Central to this movement is a call for a drastic and immediate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  [edit: we have since changed our status to working in collaboration with 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future instead of functioning as as “node”.]

This requires a fundamental global shift in how we produce and use energy. We have our work cut out for us, because we are contending with powerful and wealthy interests, including multinational energy corporations whose profits depend on continuing the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

There’s a place for everyone in this global surge to create meaningful change in the window of time we have left. To be successful, we need as many people as possible to step up.

Here in the Valley there are many vehicles for getting involved:

Building a sustainable energy future for Massachusetts.

We are organizing for a clean, renewable energy future while we join with others to stop fossil fuel infrastructure expansion in Massachusetts and beyond through the ReNEWable Massachusetts project. We are working to promote local control of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and conservation in order to reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuel-based energy.

We’ve also organized opposition, including non-violent civil disobedience, to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will greatly increase global CO2 emissions from dirty tar sands oil. Tar sands exploitation also threatens indigenous communities in Canada and the United States.

CAN/350Mass helps organize community efforts for a climate action plan in your town or city to oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure (pipelines or power plants) and to shift town and faith communities’ energy sources to 100% renewable.

Demanding divestment from fossil fuels.

From students calling for their universities to divest endowments, to faith communities and state workers calling for cutting institutional ties to corporations profiting from fossil fuels, the divestment movement is a global and growing force with institutions committing to remove these investments from their stock portfolios. CAN/350Mass will help you develop and promote resolutions in your town or faith group to divest from fossil fuels. We’re also supporting state legislation to divest the state pension fund from fossil fuels.

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition.

CAN is a founding member of the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, which brings together diverse groups to fight for climate justice in Springfield. Our current focus is ensuring that the city fully implements its Climate Action Plan. We’re working to ensure that the plan reflects the needs of those most affected by pollution and the impacts of climate change.

A fair price for carbon.

Most economists agree that putting a price on carbon is the best way to reduce the emissions that cause global warming. One path toward this goal is to end fossil fuel subsidies by having our state legislature approve a fair and equitable fee and rebate program. The state legislature is considering two bills to put a price on carbon. The Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future — a broad coalition including business, labor, civic and environmental groups — is currently facilitating a statewide dialogue so the best legislation will emerge; CAN is an active participant.

Arts and media.

CAN is looking for people to work on street theater, giant puppets, music and art so we can bring our passion to the streets and public art to our actions. We also need people with media skills to help with our weekly online newsletter, and our presence on the web, in print and on social media.

Climate change is happening, but together we can prevent catastrophe. If you’re ready to get involved, together we CAN make a difference.

Movements Without Leaders

What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet 

“It’s our job to rally a movement…big enough to stand up to all that money”

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175737/tomgram:_bill_mckibben:_a_movement_for_a_new_planet/#more

Do the Math – The Movie