At the Port of Albany, business as usual on a Saturday is a parade of oil trains making their way into the rail yard, 15, 20, 30 cars at a time, but on May 14, hundreds of people from across the Northeast, coming from as far and wide as Maine to Maryland, stood in the way of the fossil fuel industry as part of a coordinated, global wave of escalation, Break Free Albany: Stop the Bomb Trains. In Albany, local groups have been fighting oil trains and the oil train terminal at the Port of Albany for about four years. May 14th was the first mass direct action, an escalation welcomed by the local community.
We are so glad you are a part of this. Let’s celebrate our victories from these last two weeks, and then continue on until all fossil fuels stay in the ground where they belong!
“Whenever we spend a dollar, we are saying ‘yes’ to something.” Those wise words have stuck with me and haunt some people every time they make a purchase of something they’d rather not be affirming. You probably try to buy local food, buy clothes and furniture second-hand, and maybe even buy solar power (or at least buy less fossil fuel). But have you thought about your investments? Your mutual funds and 401K may be invested in the same companies which are destroying our planet, and you may not even know what you’re saying “yes” to. Divesting your portfolio from these dirty stocks is the ticket. But how to begin?
Get the help you need to take the influential step of divesting from fossil fuel stocks, and ensure that you have other viable options to invest your money. You’ll be able to take the information to your place of employment and to your friends and family to encourage them to divest as well.
Topics we’ll cover include–
Start by checking out Central Vermont Climate Action’s Personal Divestment Workshop. Topics will include:
Defining fossil fuel free investing
How to know if you have fossil fuel stocks in your portfolio
Fossil fuel free investment choices and past performance
Divesting intelligently: how to avoid making costly general investment mistakes
When: Saturday, May 21, 2016 10:00 am-noon
Where: Capstone Community Action (20 Gable Place Barre, VT 05641)
50 teens attended, bouncing from workshop to workshop, pizza party to ice cream social, silk-screening to the healing arts space, there was something inspiring for everyone. Teens learned skills of observation, communication and transformation as in a Theatre of the Oppressed embodiment activity about racial justice. To lift up the importance of creativity in the struggle for justice we created an art space which was constantly full of young people creating their own stencils, banners for the march, and silk-screening tee-shirts. To center the importance of self-care in our movement work we created a healing arts space where participants could come and get massages, herbal teas, tarot readings, make fire cider and more. We had two packed days of games, singing, discussions and workshops. The workshops were generative and diverse and encompassed everything from gender and sexuality to archery, from bike mechanics to free trade. One highlight was the climate justice workshop which joined forces with the with best of Solidarity School workshop led by the Vermont Workers Center and got youth excited to participate in the upcoming Break Free Action in Albany, NY. As the weekend culminated we rallied before marching off into the rain and the Youth Summit teens called out to the crowd: “In the world we are creating there is…. racial justice, peace and unity, no discrimination, healthy soil and healthy water, equality…!” We intend that this weekend sparks the fire of resistance in all who participated and that we can more fully build an intergenerational movement for justice!
Break Free: Stop the Bomb Trains On May 14, people from across the Northeast will stand in the way of the fossil fuel industry in one of the largest actions in a coordinated, global wave of escalation. In Albany, NY, local groups have been fighting oil trains—which bring explosive fracked oil from the Bakken shale of North Dakota to the Port of Albany—for about four years. May 14th will be the first mass direct action, an escalation welcomed by the local community. This is one person’s call to action.
If I asked you to be part of a huge global day of civil disobedience for the Climate, you might well ask me “Why?” Why should I spend time and energy travelling to the distant city of Albany to shut down operation of a rail yard for a day, and then go home and back to business-as-climate-destroying-usual?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The truth is that we citizens and activists have been doing a really decent job fighting new fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s actually pretty hard for companies to build new pipelines, because of strident and sustained public opposition to them. But, I think the fossil fuel industry might be a bit confused. It seems they didn’t quite understand that it’s not just the pipelines that bother us. Transporting explosive fracked oil through our cities and towns on rickety railways bothers us too. It’s fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s the opposite end of “keeping it in the ground.” It’s more like “Frack it, transport it, refine it, send it half way around the world, burn it. Repeat.”
Fracked oil from the Bakken Shale magically became available in the mid-2000s. (http://www.what-is-fracking.com/bakken-shale/). Funny, because that’s right about exactly the time (2005) when the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill passed, exempting fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act and exempting companies from disclosing the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. And of course, fracked oil and gas is not for the benefit of the communities where the stuff is fracked. It’s for the highest bidder in the global market. They can all take that “energy independence” argument and throw it right out in front of a bomb train.
But I know what you’re thinking: Please not another sign-holding, slogan-chanting protest march! And this is where I tell you the good news. This isn’t that. This time we’re actually putting our bodies in the way of the dirty, explosive oil-by-rail which sends a very different message: When it comes to fossil fuel infrastructure and global warming pollution, no means no. And yes, we can and will shut down operation at your rail yards just like we do your pipeline construction. It will take tactics that are gutsy to be effective, but we can and will break free from the dirty fossil fuels of yester-year.
We’re saying no, our cities and towns are not sacrifice zones. We’re saying yes, will remember the Lac Megantic disaster, when a train carrying Bakken crude derailed and caused an explosion that killed 47 people in the little Quebec town. It left roughly half of the downtown area destroyed, and contaminated an area so large that all but three of the remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished. We will remember, and we’ll make sure the fossil fuel companies don’t forget about it either.
And so we’re making some important connections. Why go to Albany on May 14? Because these bomb trains rumble by on tracks in the back yards of low income housing communities like the Ezra Prentice community. Residents there are victims of a botched assessment for environmental injustice by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. We’re standing with them because there are children and families in danger right now. And because our oil soaked economy is like a smoker who is going to quit, eventually…maybe after these last two packs.
Break Free is not just against one company like Exxon, Koch Industries, Halliburton, Kinder-Morgan, TransCanada (although any chance to stick it to them is reason enough for me to go). This is really an opportunity to stand against all climate crimes and all climate criminals. Against extreme methods of extraction. Against an unjust economic system that allows these atrocities to continue as somehow inevitable and ensures that the evil elite profit off the destruction of communities, planet, and future.
So why am I hopping a bus in May to go to Break Free Albany 2016? I’m not really going because of Dick Cheney, or Charles and David Koch. I’m going because I’ve been told we need technological and social mobilization of World War II scale if we want to solve this climate crisis. We need to start treating it like the global crisis it is. And I’m not currently seeing that vital mobilization underway. I’m going because a few years ago I didn’t think that it would come to this—to global mass action by the peoples’ climate movement—but it has.
You’re not alone if you feel powerless, overwhelmed, isolated, and even cynical. But they can’t ignore climate change just like they can’t ignore thousands of people blocking the train tracks at Albany. They can’t ignore millions of people all over the globe saying the same thing—“Keep it in the ground!”—and acting on it.
If you’ve done the chanting and the marching and the letter writing, this action is for you. If you haven’t done any of those things, this action is for you. If you have something to say, this is a big chance to say it in bold and effective non-violent direct action. I’m going because that’s the most important thing I can do.
Jane Pekol is an active member of Central Vermont Climate Action, a 350 Vermont Node group. For more information about this Saturday May 14, 2016 Break Free direct action and to get on the bus to Albany check out www.albany2016.org and http://www.albany2016.org/the-action/getting-to-albany/. Non-violent direct action training is strongly encouraged will be offered Friday night and early Saturday morning. Join the local movement to solve the global climate crisis by sending an email to email@example.com or checking out Central Vermont Climate Action on facebook.
Over the past few months, students and teachers from over a dozen Vermont high schools and colleges have given up their Sunday afternoons to plan a major day of action to promote greater political action on climate change.
They are calling this event the Youth Rally for the Planet, and hundreds of students have already signed up to attend! They could really use your help to make this day a reality! These students will march together in solidarity, learn more about climate change through educational booths on the Statehouse lawn, and stand together to listen to speakers and performers demand greater political action on climate change.
This young climate leaders are also trying to organize a keynote performance by the world famous youth activist Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh. Xiuhtezcatl comes to us from Boulder, Colorado and these youth need to secure $4,500 to bring him, along with his brother and a chaperon. Xiuhtezcatl has already modified his schedule to allow this visit to happen, but needs to purchase plane tickets and pay for lodging.
Please Donate Whatever You Can to help bring Xiuhtezcatl to Vermont to inspire the next generation of climate change activists. It only takes a few minutes and any amount helps…$5, $10, $20, $100 – Whatever you can donate will get us that much closer to our goal.
350VT is collecting funds for the Youth Lobby Day. All donations will go directly to the Youth Lobby Organizing group and are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law; no goods or services were received in exchange for this donation.
Break Free Albany is a mass action for climate justice on May 14th where thousands of people will stand up against the fossil fuel industry in North America. Break Free Albany represents a coalition of communities and organizations gathering for a mass civil disobedience act against oil trains, gas pipelines, and other fossil fuel projects. It is time for the fossil fuel era to come to an end! Many people will participant in the direct action or come to rally and stand in solidarity.
This action is part of the 350.org initiated Break Free From Fossil Fuels global week of action – May 7 through 14. Albany 2016 is one of the actions in the United States, complementing other actions across the country and on five other continents. Sign up to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry here!
Check out this video, A Danger on Rails, about the dangers posed by trains that transport explosive oil across North America.
Read Patrick Mazza’s piece below on why we’re breaking free from fossil fuels!
The climate hour is late – Time to rapidly Break Free from fossil fuels
This is all that Typhoon Winston, the most powerful landfalling storm in Southern Hemisphere history, left Kalisi and her three-year-old son, Tuvosa, when it hit Fiji Feb. 20. Climate disruption created by the richest nations is hitting the poorest nations hardest. This compels us in the global North to rise up for climate justice.
The climate hour is late, too late for anything but the most sweeping and fundamental efforts to break free from fossil fuels. Lying oil companies have skewed our political system, blocking effective response for over 25 years. Now the Earth’s climate is severely twisting under the effects of fossil fuel carbon pollution. Never has the disruption been more visible than in recent months.
This is the first of a series of blog posts leading up the largest direct actions against the fossil fuel industry in history. From May 4-16 Break Free, staged by the global 350.org network and other groups, will mount actions at six U.S. locations and in 10 other countries around the world. Civil disobedience will play a leading role. That will definitely be the case for the Pacific Northwest action, taking place from May 13-15 at oil refineries in Anacortes, Washington and organized by a broad coalition of mainly grassroots groups and collectives from around the Northwest.
After many years of political system failure, we can rely only on a massive people power wave capable of making demands for fundamental and rapid system change. A political system corrupted by the greatest series of corporate crimes in history leaves no other option.
Investigative journalists recently uncovered how oil companies systemically lied about climate disruption, knowing the monstrous implications of their deceits. Journalists documented that Exxon scientists researched fossil-fuel-driven climate disruption in the 1970s and 1980s, and accurately predicted the outcomes. These revelations are now fueling fraud investigations by 20 state attorneys general across the country.
Exxon and its cohort of oil companies knew exactly what they were doing when in the late 1980s they began funding disinformation campaigns meant to cast doubt on climate science and stop regulations that would have reduced carbon pollution. Their tragic success already spells the death of millions of people and extinction of uncounted species. It is the absolutely pinnacle example of how powerful corporate institutions driven by the imperative to preserve profit and the value of capital assets will take our planet down if we let them.
Thus, to break free from fossil fuels, we need to break free from the institutional corruption that pervades our society, and prevents meaningful progress. To paraphrase John Lennon, we need to free our minds from the institutions that have held back our imagination of what this society could be if we decided to make a world fit for our children.
Make no mistake. Our generation is well on the way to leaving a legacy of utter desolation. Severe climate disruption is already upon us. We need to understand what this means. Climate is an abstract word, and that is part of the challenge in drawing people to respond to it. Climate is in essence the pattern of wind and ocean currents that drive weather patterns around the globe. It hits home in the amount and intensity of rain and snow a region receives, or does not, as well as extremes of heat and cold, and the way they lock in for extended periods. Wind and ocean currents are becoming seriously twisted.
This is evidenced by the Pacific Ocean’s third monster El Nino in 34 years, affecting weather patterns across the Earth, and by warm winds blowing over the Arctic leaving the March 2016 maximum Arctic Ocean icepack tied for 2015 as the lowest ever recorded. Going into melt season, this could set up record low ice cover this summer, with expanded patches of blue water soaking solar heat that white ice would otherwise repel into space. Heating of the Arctic is likely slowing and stalling the jet stream, one of the world’s major weather generators, resulting in massive deluges and snowstorms in some places, scorching heat and drought in others. And, as much feared, it is now documented that Greenland icecap meltwater is interfering with North Atlantic currents that transport warm water from the tropics. While the world is seeing record warmth, the North Atlantic is witnessing record cold. The cold-warm contrast is already fueling more intense storms.
Underscoring the emergence of a climate emergency, scientific agencies reported that this January and February were by far the hottest ever recorded. It was the largest spike over average temperatures on record. At 1.35° Celsius, reported by NASA, it came perilously close to the 1.5°C limit set as an aspirational goal by the recent Paris climate summit, and regarded by many scientists as an absolute limit to prevent runaway climate catastrophe. In fact, with climate-twisting carbon emissions at a record, we are well on the way to a 4°C increase as early as this century. This represents a massive crime against climate justice.
“As the planet warms, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes which occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, and considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the ‘new climate normal’ as we approach 4°C – a frightening world of increased risks and global instability,” the World Bank recently reported. “The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise. Ending poverty, increasing global prosperity and reducing global inequality, already difficult, will be much harder with 2°C warming, but at 4°C there is serious doubt whether these goals can be achieved at all.”
The human face of this could be seen when the most powerful storm to make landfall in Southern Hemisphere history plowed into Fiji February 20, killing 42 and destroying the homes of 62,000. At seven percent of the nation’s population, that would equate to 23 million Americans being suddenly driven from their homes. Category 5 Typhoon Winston, with winds up to 185 mph, was the second most powerful tropical cyclone to hit land in the planet’s history after Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines in 2013. These storms underscore the tragic fact that the fossil fuel consumption, mostly by the richer countries, is taking from poor people of color what little they have.
In the face of all this, when the world should be taking desperate measures to reduce carbon emissions, 2015 saw record growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The Titanic is headed toward the iceberg and the captain is ordering the boilers stoked to speed the ship toward its destination.
The climate emergency is now staring us in the face, as is the bankruptcy of politics as usual. We must break free from fossil fuels, and relentlessly drive for a rapid and just transition to 100% renewable energy. The next post will detail how we must undertake this energy revolution, which is well within our grasp.
And check out Patrick’s blog for more great articles!
New Orleans, LA | March 23, 2016 | K.C. Whiteley reporting
As part of the national Keep it in the Ground campaign, the “No New Leases” action on March 23rd at the New Orleans Superdome represented an historic moment in the environmental movement here on the Gulf coast.
Hundreds of protesters from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia arrived in New Orleans on the morning of March 23rd to defend the waters and eco-life of the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf coast communities joined national and global partners to say no to the continued exploitation of the Gulf as a “sacrifice zone” for fossil fuel development.
At stake was 43 million new acres of federally controlled ocean for fossil fuel development, an area the size of the entire state of Louisiana and half of Mississippi, and the 8th largest carbon source remaining on the planet.
National partners 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Indigena, Rising Tide and the Center for Biological Diversity joined local groups, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 350LA, the New Orleans Healing Center and indigenous leaders Cherrie Foytlin and Monique Verdin to organize a week of workshops, water ceremonies, films, workshops, trainings and a huge art build thanks to the Radical Arts and Healing Collective.
Although the protest did not stop the auction, it sent a clear message that the days of burning dirty fossil fuels are coming to an end. Indigenous leaders and spokespeople from frontline communities of color like Houston’s Hilton Kelley spoke about the rampant sickness, air pollution and poisoned water that are dumped on poor communities that are standing up and demanding “shut it down!”
If the U.S. has any hope of meeting the terms of December’s Paris Agreement on climate change, drilling for new oil in the Gulf moves us in the opposite direction. Just six years after the ongoing devastation caused by the BP oil spill, new drilling in the Gulf is a guaranteed bad ending.
To the argument that we need jobs from the fossil fuel industry, Louisiana climate activist, Cherri Foytlin, responds that oil workers are being laid off by the hundreds. Instead we could be employing thousands of workers to repair the 27,000 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf, cleaning up what the oil companies are supposed to be doing themselves.
Foytlin declares the fossil fuel industry as a “carousel of death that we must get off.” We can make the Gulf 100% renewable if we choose to invest in that. And, as the banner says, “To Change Everything We Need Everyone.”
For more information about Keep it in the Ground actions in the Gulf, you can reach 350VT’s K.C. Whiteley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you all for your solidarity with the Gulf.
For photos and coverage of the No New Leases Action:
The following blog post is by Terence Cuneo, UVM professor, father, and resident of Williston, VT, who faces eminent domain. Terence and his family aren’t giving in. Please consider helping them in their legal battle with a donation.
It’s a big deal when the state decides to seize a family’s land. Yet, given its agreement with Vermont Gas (VGS), this is exactly what the state of Vermont is now doing to our family. I would be hard pressed to find the words to express our anger about this. The decision makes no sense.
The right to own and retain property is among the most fundamental rights that we enjoy as US citizens. I think everyone agrees to that. I think everyone also realizes that the right is not absolute. There are circumstances in which the state must appropriate land that belongs to others. But the circumstances are rare. And the reasons for doing so had better be extremely powerful. The bar they must clear is very high.
It is plainly obvious to me that the primary reason the state has offered for seizing our property is not powerful. It does not clear the bar. Here is the reason the state offers: providing natural gas to roughly 2600 customers over fifteen years is a public good. This public good, moreover, is of such importance that it entitles the state to seize the land of property-owners. Nobody denies that installing this pipeline has some benefits. But I strenuously deny that the good is of such importance that it justifies the state seizing our property.
In fact, the more I’ve learned about this pipeline, the more I’ve found myself baffled by how it could’ve seemed like a good idea. I’ve asked myself three questions when trying to think through this issues: First, does the project make financial sense? Second, does it make sense as state policy? And, third, does it make ethical sense?
As for the first question, many of you know that the original estimate of the cost of this project was $60-70 million. It is now $154 million. Who pays the additional $80 million? The customers of Vermont Gas do. Moreover, as of today, oil costs roughly $1.45 a gallon. Given the present price of oil and natural gas, customers will save no money by switching to natural gas. In fact, they would lose anywhere from $80 to over $300 per year by doing so. The project makes no financial sense.
As for the second question, the state of Vermont’s comprehensive energy plan states that it will achieve “90% of Vermont’s total energy needs from renewable sources by 2050“. Yet this project is estimated to operate in the red for over thirty years. By building the pipeline, the state virtually guarantees that it cannot meet is aims. As a matter of state policy, this project makes no sense.
Honestly, it’s the third question that most bothers me. The state of Vermont has banned fracking, for excellent reason. It is, by the state’s own admission, an environmental disaster. Yet the state is happy for Canada to provide fracked gas to Vermont citizens. This would be like abolishing slavery within our borders because it’s wrong but paying Canadian slave-owners to make what we want. This makes no ethical sense.
As I write this, I am listening to the buzz of chainsaws and wood chippers as VGS demolishes my neighbors’ trees. Against our will, VGS intends to do the same to our property. In doing so, it will violate our family’s rights. Not only will it violate our rights, it will also make it much more difficult for you and me to fulfill the obligations we have. These obligations are not what they were fifty or one hundred years ago. Back then, we didn’t know what the massive use of fossil fuels would do to our world. We now know and are experiencing what it does. Our obligation is to do better, to act in the interests of my children and yours. Installing a fracked gas pipeline is not doing better. It is not acting in their interests. It is going backward. It is a failure to provide for my children and yours what we owe them.
Terence Cuneo, Williston, VT
Please support the Cuneo’s in their legal fight against eminent domain:
As part of an interdisciplinary, independent study project in both the media arts and environmental studies, Ross Henry, a junior at St. Michael’s College, is telling the story of climate change’s devastating effects on both the landscape and the culture of Alaska. Throughout the month of March, Ross is on the front lines of climate change: remote villages, century old glaciers, iconic dog mushing races, and entire ecosystems. Ross hopes his documentary, will both educate about a region that is misunderstood, but also inspire people to realize the beautiful regions that are teetering on destruction.
The 2016 Iditarod restart in Willow, Alaska. Dog teams move through forests and across frozen lakes, on their way North to Nome.The waters of the Matanuska Glacier, flood the valley. This usually only happens in the summer, but the rivers were at full flow even in MarchOn the shores of the Yukon River in Russian Mission, there are no garages or covers for the summer fishing gear, just the beaches. The Yukon River used to be flowing with Salmon, but because of over fishing by commercial fishing companies–Salmon are hard to come by.Just on the outskirts of Russain Mission, in the Yukon Delta, a carcass of a moose laye in the bushes. The moose population are under attack by the tumultuous climate of Alaska. Alaska is feeling the effects of climate change 2 to 3 times more than anywhere else in the country.Russian Mission is a village that depends on nature for both its food and economy. This Russian Mission women is fishing for dinner, and is lucky to have caught a fish. The Yukon River, where this photos was shot– was once teeming with Salmon, but because of overfishing by commercial operations the river is now mostly bare.
Over the weekend of February 6-7th, 350Vermont hosted a Climate Organizer Leadership Training in Starksboro, Vermont. The training brought together a large group of people of all ages, interests, and hometowns. But the one thing that everybody had in common was that they all wanted to become better organizers in the climate movement. The training helped people to become more educated and aware of how to affect positive change in the climate movement. We are having another training in June; if you are interested in getting involved, please read the Q&A below!
What is the goal of the leadership trainings?
350Vermont hopes to connect more people throughout the state to the climate movement, and provide them with the skills necessary to be a successful organizer in the climate movement. We will be hosting another training the first weekend of June; please reach out to Brittany, email@example.com if you would like to be involved!
Who can participate?
Anyone can participate! Our trainings draw people who are interested in improving their organizing skills within the climate justice movement, or who want to learn more about how to be involved in the movement. We have had participants from all over the state of Vermont, as well as someone from Massachusetts who heard about our training and was inspired to attend! Many participants are involved in our 350 Nodes.
How is the weekend structured?
Our training is packed full of workshops and activities to keep the participants engaged and active all weekend. During our February training on Saturday, we heard Climate Justice, Racial Justice, and Facilitation workshops. We ate all of our meals together and had the opportunity to learn from and teach each other new things. It was a great time to discuss the workshops and continue our learning process. Sunday involved our Personal Narrative, Theory of Change, Divestment and Legislation, and Campaign Development workshops. Everybody worked, listened, and collaborated so beautifully together.
What topics do you cover, and why are they important?
Our workshop topics in February were Climate Justice, Racial Justice, Facilitation, Personal Narrative, Theory of Change, Divestment and Legislation, and Campaign Development. Each workshop highlighted a different aspect of the climate movement, and the skills necessary to take action together. Each topic was very different, yet integral to a holistic approach to understanding the climate movement and what needs to be done.
What do the participants gain from the training?
One of the major take-aways from the most recent training was that when people with similar goals come together, there are infinite possibilities for taking action. Being in a room with so many activists in the climate movement was inspiring, motivating, and important. It reminds us all that even though working for climate justice is challenging and oftentimes frustrating, collaborating with like-minded people and learning from their successes and failures is a huge part of a movement’s success.
How can I get more involved with 350Vermont?
To get more involved with 350Vermont, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at 350vermont.org. We host weekly Node meetings all over the state, and have a plethora of volunteer opportunities. Please be in touch!
Beth Sawin at UMass Lowell Climate Change Solutions for the Future We Need. Photo Credit: Climate Interactive
I’m home and I have read (well skimmed) the Paris Agreement and read lots of commentary from many smart people who have written about what the deal itself means, so I won’t add to that. (There’s a good easy to understand summary at Grist, by the way).
Instead my last ‘update from Paris’ is about .
1. Feedback. Healthy systems need timely and accurate feedback. Here our tiny Climate Interactive team has had a role since Copenhagen, a role I think we played well in Paris. The world didn’t close the emissions gap yesterday, but the gap is so clear now and so well understood that no one is leaving Paris thinking the work is over.
2. Goals. Systems steer toward goals. That’s why the inclusion of the 1.5°C goal is so important. The goal doesn’t itself change the world, our hard work and joyful collaboration does that. But the goal keeps us focused, it motivates, and 1.5 is a significant enough goal that it rules out the distractions of false and partial solutions.
3. Beliefs. About ourselves, each other, and our Earth. At one event I went to Mary Robinson spoke, and then Casey Camp Horinek, an indigenous women from Oklahoma. And Casey said: “Never did I think I’d hear the former prime minister of Ireland use the words Mother Earth.” There’s some convergence happening between worlds that used to not intersect. I felt it a year ago at the People’s Climate March, and felt it more in Paris. Jobs, health, the rights of nature, the rights of future generations, the fact that we survive together or not at all. Suddenly all of that is so obvious it’s as though we always knew it. But we didn’t. We really didn’t. (And I know it’s not universal, not nearly enough, but in Paris what connects us felt, to me, stronger than what divides us).
And so my deepest gratitude to those who, at Paris and beyond, weave the connections. The diplomats who held 200 countries together, the young people who see themselves as citizens of a planet, not nations.The indigenous people, the workers, the healers, the farmers, the city planners who are all showing up and saying, we hold a part of the solution, listen to how it looks from where we sit.
It’s messy, slow, and incomplete. It’s organic, surprising, and invigorating. Frustrating, unfair, insufficient. But most of all, not done yet, but not blocked either. With a place and an important job for each of us.
Beth is Co-Director of Climate Interactive, a not-for-profit organization based in Washington DC aimed to help people see what works to address climate change and related issues like energy, water, food, and disaster risk reduction. A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years. Below is her reaction to the news from Paris.