Our guest blogger is Julia Nerbonne, the 350.org organizer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Here in the Twin Cities things are heating up in the grassroots climate movement. This Saturday, we’ll be joining with people in nearly 170 countries across the world to celebrate Moving Planet, a global day of action to move beyond fossil fuels.
After our event as part of last year’s 350.org Global Work Party, when we pulled over 500 people together for a rally to successfully shut down the last coal-burning plant in Minneapolis, we realized we might be on to something. Fast forward to today: after months of meetings, countless phone calls, 40,000 email blasts, a brand spanking new web page, and a handful of great radio interviews, thousands of people will come together on the grounds of the Minnesota state Capitol this weekend. Faith leaders from across the state, cyclists en masse, and great big puppets will be there all calling for bold action to address climate change.
We aren’t alone. We’ll be sending a strong message to our leaders that if they won’t stand up for a livable planet, we will! That message will be echoed through more than 2,000 events, and more than 700 of those will be in the United States. We’ll be standing with folks in Bali, Boston, London, Columbus, Auckland, San Antonio, Nairobi, Denver, carrying one message: move beyond fossil fuels.
Here in Minnesota, it’s not just our scrappy organizing team anymore. The Minneapolis movement has ballooned with the support of nearly 40 partner organizations, from churches to solar panel installers, from labor to public health officials, from farmers to human rights groups.
Whether you are in Minnesota or Mali, we hope you join us on September 24th to call for bold action on climate change. We also hope you stand with us after Sept. 24. No one else is leading the way for us. Let’s get moving.
Moving Planet: 2,000 Rallies Around The World To Move Beyond Fossil Fuels |
Going from knowledge to action, 350.org is building on the Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality with Moving Planet, a global day of rallies this Saturday, Sept. 24 — 700 U.S. events and nearly 2,000 events worldwide — around the theme of people-powered movement, from bicycles to kayaks, foot to public transit. Events include a New York City bike rally to the United Nations headquarters with the Vice President of the Maldives, leaders of indigenous communities, and scientist James Hansen; a San Francisco rally with bikes, boats, and electric cars outside San Francisco City Hall with 350.org’s Bill McKibben and the Sierra Club’s Mike Brune; and a ride from Boulder to Denver stopping at two coal plants along the way and ending in a massive rally in front of the Colorado State Capitol.
Climate Caravan Across Bangladesh |
From the 15th of November to the 4th of December, a climate change caravan will travel across the length of Bangladesh. The national action, organized by the Bangladesh Krishok Foundation, will “inform and mobilize vulnerable peasant populations throughout Bangladesh in order to respond to the threats of climate change; increase awareness about gender discrimination and the disproportionate impacts of climate change upon women; and build upon international solidarity networks concerning climate change and food sovereignty.” International participation in the 20-day caravan, including accommodation, meals, and transportation across Bangladesh, is encouraged; the deadline for registration is Aug. 24. (Facebook)
Climate activists are comparing the right-wing, corporate agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the villains that bedevil Harry Potter in a new website. Chamber President Tom Donohue looms as a Lord Voldemort figure on the site. This mini-campaign was launched in conjunction with the final installment of the Harry Potter movies, like climate change, one of the defining phenomena of the millenial generation. At the U.S. Chamber of Secrets, the 350.org campaign exposes the lobby group’s sordid history of opposing progress:
As spooky as the last installment of Harry Potter might be, the real life story of the US Chamber of Commerce might actually be hiding more sinister secrets. From fighting against civil rights and clean air to their attempts to dismantle health care and stop action on climate change: The US Chamber is hiding much of its history away.
“Hogwarts isn’t the only place with a dark secret,” the site explains, asking people to join 350.org’s campaign against the Chamber’s anti-American activities, “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me.”
Last fall, thousands of youth climate activists called on President Obama to restore solar to the White House, removed 20 years ago by Ronald Reagan. In October, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that “by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.” Today, with less than 24 hours before the summer solstice, Ramamoorthy Ramesh announced that the date of White House solar installation won’t even be publicly decided until September at the earliest, based on the timeline for the DOE’s Rooftop Solar Challenge:
The Energy Department remains on the path to complete the White House solar demonstration project, in keeping with our commitment, and we look forward to sharing more information — including additional details on the timing of this project — after the competitive procurement process is completed.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge, part of the Department of Energy Sunshot Initiative to accelerate the deployment of solar technologies, is designed to encourage local and regional governments to improve market conditions for rooftop solar installations. The Sunshot Initiative program was only announced in April of this year, and the final date for submissions to the rooftop challenge is August 31. There is no date established for when the “competitive procurement process” is to be completed.
Although the work being done by Ramesh, one of the nation’s top solar-power scientists, as the head of the Sunshot Initiative, is crucial, tying the White House demonstration solar installations to this program is a transparent excuse for a broken pledge.
The threat of our polluted climate and the urgency of rebuilding our economy with clean technology should be the Obama administration’s paramount concern. Their deferral of a commitment made to our nation’s youth in the midst of this crisis is a grave disappointment.
Our guest blogger is Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org.
Will President Obama meet his self-imposed deadline to get solar panels back on the roof of the White House by the end of this spring? On Oct. 5, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the Obama Administration would be returning solar panels to the White House roof. (President Carter installed solar panels on the roof in 1979 only to have them removed by President Reagan a few years later.)
“As we move toward a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example,” said Chu. “I’m pleased to announce that, by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.”
This year, the final day of spring is June 21. That gives the Obama administration just under two weeks to meet their commitment. That’s ample time, according to most solar contractors. We asked Danny Kennedy, the CEO of Sungevity, how quickly he could get a set of solar panels on the White House roof if he got the call. The answer: “72 hours.”
Our team here at 350.org has a vested interest in seeing solar panels back on the roof. Last summer, we launched a campaign, “Put Solar On It,” challenging world leaders to install solar at their presidential residences. Some elected officials seized the opportunity. President Pratibha Devisingh Patil announced a new 50kw array for India’s presidential palace. In October, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives took the challenge a step further, actually getting on his roof to help install the solar panels himself.
The Obama administration proved a bit more difficult to convince. After a number of unproductive phone calls with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, our team at 350.org decided to help push the process along a bit.
As it turned out, one of the original Jimmy Carter solar panels, after being exiled from the White House by Reagan, had ended up on the roof of the cafeteria at Unity College, a small environmental college in Maine. So, on Sept. 7, 350.org founder Bill McKibben and a group of Unity students took one of the panels, put in the back of a bio-diesel van, and began to drive it back to its rightful home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
After great rallies along the way in Boston and New York, our team and the Carter solar panel arrived at the White House. A meeting with administration officials ended in disappointment, however. The officials would neither accept the original Carter panel nor commit to installing a new set of panels on the roof. The promised only to “continue their deliberative process.”
How the installation would play in the press must have been part of the deliberations. Less than a month after our visit, and after taking a bit of a “shellacking” in places like Time, the Washington Post, and the AP for their refusal to commit to our request, the administration announced that deliberations were over and a set of panels would be up by spring 2011.
And now, here we are. With two weeks left in spring, we’re still optimistic that the White House will stay true to their word. As Bill McKibben said recently:
Well, they promised they’d have them up this spring, and I’m sure they will. They’re a can-do bunch, and two weeks is plenty of time to finish a job I’m sure they’ve been hard at work on this since making their promise last fall; only a cynic would suggest they did it simply to get us off their backs. Maybe the president will even strap on a tool belt himself, like the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who installed panels on his residence in a matter of weeks last year.
In the meantime, we’ll be collecting another round of signatures to send over to White House showing that the American people want President Obama to fulfill his promise. Installing solar panels on the White House isn’t a replacement for a sound climate policy, but it’s concrete step in the right direction.
As Bill said at the time of Secretary Chu’s announcement:
The White House did the right thing, and for the right reasons: they listened to the Americans who asked for solar on their roof, and they listened to the scientists and engineers who told them this is the path to the future. If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installations across the country and around the world.
Our guest blogger is Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.
350.org is a little more than three years old; it was born with NASA scientist Jim Hansen’s crucial paper showing that 350 ppm co2 is the most we can safely have in the atmosphere if we want a planet “similar to the on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” We do want that—and we think that one reason we’re not getting it is the lack of a mass movement around global warming.
It’s not that we haven’t had an environmental movement—we have, with big, well-respected, well-funded, and powerful groups centered in Washington. But not big enough or rich enough to take on the fossil fuel industry—that was demonstrated last summer with the demise of cap-and-trade efforts, despite every compromise and conciliation. Senators can tell when there’s not enough juice behind the smart and committed green lobbyists; we need to generate that juice, and fast. Since we’ll never match the oil industry in money, so we have to find a different currency: bodies, creativity, spirit.
We’ve been a kind of beta test for that movement. Beginning with myself and seven college students and no resources, we’ve managed to at least demonstrate that there’s a chance to build something big: our first day of action, in October of 2009, coordinated 5200 rallies in 181 countries. Last year, in the fall of 2010, we hosted an even bigger Global Work party: 7400 events in every country on earth save North Korea. People everywhere—most of them poor, since most of the world is poor—are joining around that scientific target to demand real action. We don ‘t exactly ‘organize’ all this—it’s more like a potluck supper, where we have a date and a theme, but where tens of thousands of volunteers do the work, knowing what’s possible in their place. And then we bring the images together to make the whole thing more than the sum of its parts. If you want some hope, look through a few of the 30,000 pictures in our Flickr account. You’ll notice that they’re wildly diverse, except for that wonky scientific data point that everyone is organizing around.
You might think it’s odd to take a number as a rallying cry.
Power Shift 2011, the biennial national summit of the youth climate movement, begins this Friday in Washington, DC. The challenges facing the Millennial generation posed by the dirty energy economy is seemingly insurmountable: the destruction of our planet’s atmosphere, the poisoning of our political discourse, the dissolution of the American Dream. Armed with the vision of a cleaner, greener, future, the participants in Power Shift are choosing not just to fight back, but to organize and realize their collective potential.
This year, the conference is focused on movement building, with the intent of being the largest organizer training session in history. As many as 10,000 youth activists will be trained in community organizing, facilitation, and campaign leadership, led by professionals from the New Organizing Institute, founded by Judith Freeman and Zach Exley, using the knowledge built by the likes of Marshall Ganz. The conference is departing from the earlier Power Shifts in 2007 and 2009 with the recognition that the youth climate movement can’t simply be part of the “chorus of advocates simply calling for change,” but must emerge “into a position of leadership“:
As the largest generation in American history, we are ready to build the green economy city by city, to transform higher education, to join forces on the ground with our religious and local community leaders so together we can build the future we know is essential for our long term success as a nation.
Over the course of Power Shift, participants will work through a series of sessions to learn powerful skills to share their own stories, create powerful strategies to motivate others in collective action, and lay the groundwork to launch grassroots campaigns across the country. The organizing trainings will condense what is usually a week-long course in progressive leadership methods into two four-hour sessions, Saturday and Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon will be spent on action-oriented training on lobbying and nonviolent direct action, preparing participants for protests and lobbying Congress on Monday, April 18.
This ambitious schedule means that participants will have to choose just three from among over 100 panels taking place Saturday afternoon, ranging from panels on the Koch brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to workshops on sustainable agriculture and weatherization training. Or participants can instead join the Clean Economy Canvass, hitting the streets of Washington DC with Weatherize DC to teach homeowners about how they can participate in the green economy.
Keynotes will be delivered by climate leaders like Al Gore, Van Jones, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Bill McKibben. However, this year the real leadership will come from the Millennial generation, who are preparing for the awesome challenge of inheriting this earth.