This month’s action is to sign the Banking on our Future pledge, a campaign from THIRD ACT to get the big four banks to STOP lending to fossil fuel companies. It’s quick and easy, and could have a big impact! These four banks–Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo, are funding climate chaos with no plans to stop. You can help change that by signing the Pledge:TAKE THE PLEDGE!
Last year, the International Energy Agency stated that in order to meet the Paris climate targets there can be no new investments in oil, gas, or coal, starting immediately. Yet since the climate accords were signed, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have loaned the fossil fuel industry a trillion dollars with no plans to stop.
But these banks rely on their credit card and banking customers to stay in business. An effective consumer campaign could exert powerful economic and social pressure on them to stop funding the destruction of a stable climate through fossil fuel investing. You can help by pledging that by the end of 2022, if these banks are still funding fossil fuel projects, you will cut up your credit card and close your account with them. If you don’t bank there now, you pledge you won’t do so in the future.
To check your bank’s fossil fuel financing record:
Bank.green, a tool rating various banks on their fossil fuel financing record
Resources to find better credit cards for the climate:
Green America’s list of credit cards issued from banks that don’t lend to fossil fuel companies.
One of the most high-impact actions you can take towards decarbonizing is to electrify your machines. This is because electric motors are much more efficient than fossil fuel-fed motors at converting energy into useful work. In addition, we have proven technologies for producing carbon-free electricity.
This month’s action is to take a step toward electrifying your home or vehicle(s). Below are TWO actions, from inexpensive to ambitious. Please choose one and take it!
ACTION ONE: Download Redwood Energy’s 2-page Summary of All-Electric Retrofits for your home, and choose a home retrofit action to take:DOWNLOAD RETROFIT GUIDE
ACTION TWO: Take Rewiring America’s Pledge to Electrify! They have great resources on the benefits of electrification as well as guidance on top actions to take. When you take the pledge, you’ll be notified about new electrification news and resources, which are all free.TAKE THE ELECTRIFY PLEDGE!
If you’d like to learn more about the vital role of electrification in climate action, or are considering an electric vehicle for your next car, we’re providing some additional resources below:
Adele Peters, Every new car and truck in the U.S. can be electric by 2035, Fast Company, April 15, 2021
The 14 Best electric vehicles of 2022, Rate Genius, January 3, 2022
Most fossil fuel energy is wasted–New analysis shows how to fix this!, Power Up for Climate Solutions blog, August 28, 2020
Rewiring America: Electrify Everything In Your Home Guide
Saul Griffith, 12-minute video: One Billion Machines that will Electrify America
It’s crunch time for climate action! Let’s get loud.
This is how Citizens’ Climate Lobby is headlining their urgent call to action. President Biden is still negotiating with Congress to determine which climate provisions will be in the Budget Reconciliation Package they are working on passing, and how ambitious they will be. The focus now is on the Senate.
Please use the link below to contact your Senator and President Biden and urge them to include bold climate policies (such as a price on carbon) in Reconciliation that reach the critical goal of 50% emissions reductions by 2030, opening a path toward meeting our aspirations under the Paris Climate Accord.TAKE ACTION
Follow the easy instructions to call your Senators or email President Biden. If you are feeling ambitious, you can do both! The more voters they hear from, the more likely it is that Congress and the President will find a way to pass climate policies through Budget Reconciliation that truly meet the moment.
Many powerful interests are fighting to weaken and derail these efforts. YOU can help by letting your Senators and your President know you want them to pass sweeping, bold action tackling the climate crisis!
Most people are aware that climate has changed around the world. Fires in Greece, California, and Siberia; flooding in Belgium, China, Germany; and record-breaking temperatures in too many places to name.
The cause of all this: added gases to the atmosphere (called “greenhouse gases”) that hold heat close to the surface. Two of the worst are carbon dioxide from burning fuels, and methane, also called natural gas.
The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on the Climate Crisis announced a “Code Red for Humanity” August 9, saying we have very little time to make changes to reduce the gases we keep adding to the air. I now always wear a red shirt to meetings, as a sign of the climate emergency we face.
We are in for a world of hurt. Global warming will worsen the problems of hunger, homelessness, education, immigration, mental illness, racial equity, social justice, and every other problem in society.
Meanwhile ad campaigns have promoted the idea that cutting fossil fuel use to reduce greenhouse gases means that we will suffer, lose jobs, hurt the economy, and be unable to live life as we wish. This is false: we will suffer much more if we do not create large-scale change. The actions below are all important, but require no change in your daily life.
What can we do? I want to suggest three actions for every one of us:
First, we must talk everywhere about the need to act on climate change. Although most people favor action, fewer than a third of Georgians had a conversation about climate last week. So please, make it a point to discuss it with someone every day. Call up a friend or relative. Post something on social media. Bring it up when you’re standing in line. Don’t be silent.
Second, we must share our concern with elected officials. Again, talk about it with these public servants. Write a letter or email. Call their office. Tweet about it, or retweet others. A state legislator once told me, “If three people in my District call me about the same issue, that becomes my issue.” When they don’t hear from us, they only hear from lobbyists.
Finally, we must join a larger group to take action together. Although we all benefit by reducing fossil fuel use in our daily lives, the actions of corporations and governments that employ millions have a larger impact on overall carbon emissions. We must all work together to influence their decision makers. I volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (cclusa.org) and can recommend it. Other climate groups include 350.org, the Sunrise Movement, Fridays for the Future, Extinction Rebellion, and Climate Reality. You can even join multiple groups!
Many many actions can help us reduce our emissions. Go to drawdownga.org for a list of 20 different ways Georgia can cut greenhouse gas emissions in half in just ten years, including building improvements and large-scale solar projects. Every step can help, but think as large as you can.
I want to close about the need for immediate action. What’s at stake is not nature, but people. Remember, this is Code Red for humanity.
A CCL member recently wrote, “If there are children in a burning building and I have the ability to save some of them, I have a responsibility to save as many as I can.”
Please join me in action.
Henry Slack is the Citizens’ Climate Lobby co-coordinator for Georgia, and a mechanical engineer. He originally wrote this for the Atlanta Friends Meeting (Quaker), then adopted it for a wider audience.
Note from Carla Wise: This essay expresses what I have been feeling and wanting to say more perfectly than I’ve been able to put into words. I’m grateful to Henry for giving me permission to re-post it here. Below are several links to climate actions and organizations to join in addition to Henry’s Georgia-specific links. Right now, the most urgent action you can take is to tell your Members of Congress to act now. You can use the easy #Call4Climate tool to do so!
Great organizations to support:
It’s good to be back! After five months off from climate advocacy following the train wreck known as 2020, our organization is coming back online. Thank you for sticking with Power Up for Climate Solutions during the break. I hope that you are feeling some sense of renewal and hope as we enter summer, as I am. Yet as the heat wave that smothered and scorched the Pacific Northwest inches eastward, I also feel a renewed sense of of the scale of the climate crisis we are facing and the challenges ahead. So with this clarity and sense of urgency, let me tell you about our organization’s next steps:
Power up for Climate Solutions will continue to focus on providing tools, information, and inspiration to help you engage in climate action. We will continue to emphasize actions that build political and societal will for enacting effective national climate policies while sometimes including personal and community actions. We remain committed to unifying around any and all fair and effective climate policies as long as they protect the most vulnerable among us.
We are bringing back our climate action invitations and our blog, with a new schedule. We will send you climate actions only when we have something really important you can do, so frequency will vary. Some months you may receive several actions, and some months you’ll receive none. This will allow us to send only actions we feel are especially impactful. The blog will come out six times a year instead of twelve. We will continue to have a social media presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, but with less frequent postings.
Starting this fall, we will be introducing a new initiative: Climate Circles. I’ll be offering these experimental circles to anyone interested in bringing a small group of friends, family, or colleagues together for monthly gatherings to connect, learn, and take action on climate solutions.
Climate circles are intended to be fun, flexible, and focused on learning something and taking action at each gathering. The format will be adaptable to meeting virtually or in person, and will be flexible to meet the needs of each group. This program will start small, but in time I hope to make it available to anyone who is interested.
As I write to you, it’s a much more uncertain time for climate action than it’s been in a very long time, and that’s a good thing. Anything (or nothing) is possible. We have the largest majority of Americans ever who are worried about the climate crisis and want government action. We have a president who understands the science and the urgency. We have ever-improving technological and policy tools to undertake rapid decarbonization and ways to do it that will be good for people. At the same time, we have a divided government and problems with misinformation and mistrust. We have challenging divisions within the climate community and a vocal and powerful minority fighting hard against a clean energy transition. I hope you’ll stay with us. I’m excited to get back to work. Let’s make rapid decarbonization and solving climate change the story of the next decade.
In just six weeks, we’ve seen three major climate proposals indicating that the factions of the Democratic Party are aligning on climate policy after a decade of disarray and disagreement. This policy platform on climate shows how much interest groups and politicians agree on and lays critical groundwork for enacting a transformative green recovery and a just transition to a clean energy future. It illuminates a path to finally passing big, bold climate policy solutions at the national level.
If you aren’t someone who spends time in the weeds of climate change news, you may have no idea what I’m talking about. With the pandemic raging, the economy destabilizing, and a rational racial justice/policing crisis, unification of the left on climate policy hardly made headlines. Yet if you are hoping that after the next election we will enact a green recovery and a just transition to a clean energy future, take a moment to celebrate, because such action just got a lot more likely.
Here’s a quick summary: On June 30th, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis issued its report . This included a detailed Climate Crisis Action Plan put together by House Democrats. On July 8, the Biden-Sanders unity task force on climate (chaired by John Kerry and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) issued its policy recommendations. Finally, on July 14, Joe Biden released his Build Back Better proposal on climate, a $2 trillion proposal for clean energy investments, economic stimulus, and a transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Here’s how journalist David Roberts summarized this in Vox: “For the first time in memory, there’s a broad alignment forming around a climate policy platform that is both ambitious enough to address the problem and politically potent enough to unite all the left’s various interest groups.”
These plans have a lot in common: they all set standards for net-zero emissions by 2050 (or sooner), they all focus on climate justice, and they all include large-scale public investment.
- Setting standards: Two-thirds of US emissions come from sectors where clean alternatives are already available–cars, electricity, and buildings. Details vary, but the plans agree on a common core of strong performance standards and incentives for these big three emitters to make rapid progress on emissions in the next ten years. Doing so can get us a long way toward meeting the 2030 emissions reduction goals the IPCC says are critical to prevent the worst, most catastrophic climate change impacts.
- Climate justice: Unions, fossil fuel workers, and frontline communities helped develop these plans. They include polices such as coal worker transition programs, equity mapping to identify vulnerable communities and send public investment there first, and incentives that favor union workers for clean energy jobs.
- Large public investment: Support for green industries, manufacturing, research, and job creation is in these proposals, as are a number of ideas for combining recovery from the COVID-10 economic crisis with transformative climate solutions.
Pre-pandemic, when I used to give in-person talks about climate solutions, I sometimes ended with this quote attributed to Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” This summer, the left’s new unity on climate policy makes transformative climate progress seep a little less impossible.
If you are interested in more details about these plans, see links below.
Carlie Clarcq, “Biden’s clean energy plan proposes economic recovery through green investments,” Climate Change, July 23, 2020.
David Roberts, “At last, a climate policy platform that can unite the left,” Vox, July 9, 2020.
Working from home, I look out my window at the altered world. No cars pass for long stretches but walkers are always about, and I hear bird songs I’ve never noticed before. I drive so rarely that I haven’t charged my electric car since mid-March. Of all the changes (many of them painful) brought by the pandemic, road traffic decline might be the one I like most. This quieting down of our engines, it turns out, might also be providing us with a precious gift–a little bit more time to avert the full-scale climate catastrophe we are heading for.
As you’ve probably heard, COVID-19 restrictions have caused a worldwide decline in carbon emissions. According to an analysis by the scientists who track the annual Global Carbon Budget, at the peak of COVID-19 restrictions in early April, global CO2 emissions were down 17%. A whopping 43% of lowered emissions came from road traffic decline. Depending on the lifting of restrictions and our behavior in the coming months, this analysis predicts a 4-7% decline in overall greenhouse gas emissions for the entire year.
Many pundits have already weighed in on the meaning of this carbon drop—some framing the emissions decline as impressively large, others as surprisingly small. But what I see in this pause in greenhouse gas emissions growth is possibility. In all likelihood, this pandemic moment presents our very last real chance to preserve a livable climate.
As a climate advocate, I think a lot about how we might still bring greenhouse gas emissions down fast enough to prevent the full-scale climate catastrophe we are hurtling toward. According to the UN’s most recent scientific report, this requires us to begin steep emissions reductions by 2020 to get on a pathway to 50% emissions reductions by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050. Few people have really taken onboard what this means or what the stakes are. I believe many in the youth climate movement do understand the science and the stakes. That’s why they are so angry and so scared.
Greenhouse gas emissions have been rising 1% per year for the past decade. Now a terrible global event has had the side effect of reversing this upward trend for 2020. This has bought us a bit more time, offering us just one last golden opportunity.
I’m not advocating giving up our modern lifestyles, or living under COVID-19 restrictions any longer than necessary: in fact, just the opposite. I’m searching for a pathway we can take to cut emissions fast enough to have a chance of preventing massive human suffering, preserving modern civilization, and allowing our children a shot at a habitable world.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, tackling the climate crisis is within our technological, policy, and economic capabilities. Advances in clean energy and energy efficiency are continuing to make decarbonizing more feasible and ever cheaper. Capable experts are devising workable plans that combine economic recovery from COVID-19 with rapid decarbonization. Polls show a strong majority of Americans agree it’s time to tackle the climate crisis.
To help this moment become a turning point, we can each stick with those changes that have surprised us by making us happier (for me, this includes less driving, more walking, and giving up the gym). We can advocate for changes in our communities that speed decarbonization and increase well-being (for example, cities making more room for walkers permanent). We can block the bailing out of fossil fuel companies and support clean energy and energy efficiency projects instead. We can give our time, money and votes to elect climate champions in the next election, and each election that follows. Then we can advocate for passing bold policies for a climate-friendly recovery and a livable future.( Here’s one way to help).
This is not a rehearsal. The recovery we choose will determine the fate of our species, so let’s do this!
Reposted with permission from Ensia.
There is one statistic easing pangs of guilt for people who feel they are not doing enough to fight climate change: About 71% of greenhouse gas emissions from 1988 to 2015 came from only 100 companies. Increasingly, the message is: Stop worrying about yourself and take the fight to the corporations and policymakers who refuse to stop them!
But you’re not off the hook yet. Individual action matters for a number of reasons: It stimulates and supports social action. It is central to honoring our moral duties to respect life. And it can be a force for social change in subtle or unexpectedly powerful ways.
Here are four arguments to keep riding your bike and doing all the other green things that each of us should do.
Argument 1: It’s Them and Me
It is disempowering to realize that most of the harm from climate change primarily comes from relatively few actors. In the face of this knowledge, it would seem, our individual actions don’t really change a thing. Social change, on a massive scale, is what we need. As author Derrick Jensen bluntly states in his essay, “Forget Shorter Showers”: “Personal change does not equal social change.”
He’s right, but only to a point. In fact, the individual and the social are intertwined in two crucial ways. First, enough individuals making changes does equal social change. And individual actions can have a ripple effect that we should not discount.
Each of our behaviors affects those close to us. People have a strong desire to fit in and build bonds with like-minded people. Once two of my friends installed solar panels, I did, too. Hopefully, when people see the panels on my roof, they will consider it as well. Everything we do is a signal to others about how we think the world should be.
Second, collective action doesn’t happen without individual action. Jensen is right that, “Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance.” What we really need to do, he argues, is to confront and take down the political systems that have gotten us into such a situation.
Indeed, there is no avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change without major changes on a global scale. But that starts with campaigning and voting for politicians who will act on climate change, shopping less and more ethically, and doing what you can to disrupt business as usual. In other words, social change starts with you.
Argument 2: It’s Just the Right Thing to Do
Even if you learned that turning off the lights when leaving a room will not make a measurable difference in reducing climate change, would you then feel free to leave lights on all the time? If you truly believe that doing so is wasteful, then probably not.
Most people’s moral sensibilities tell them that we have an obligation to do the right thing, even if nobody else does it or its impact is small. And the right thing to do is to respect other life forms and not waste resources, as you are able.
Our moral responsibilities may also extend to future generations. Philosophers may quibble about such things, but ask yourself this: Even if your grandchildren aren’t born yet, would they be out of line to blame you for not doing what you could have done to protect our planet?
It is a matter of moral integrity. If you are not willing to live in a way that is true to your convictions and invite others to do so as well, who will? The right thing to do is the right thing to do. Period.
Argument 3: Be a Rock in the River
One hopeful metaphor for thinking about the effects of our actions comes from philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore. Just as particles in a river can combine to change its course, our “small” acts can alter the course of climate change.
In life, as in rivers, everything changes. To quote Moore: “Our work and the work of every person who loves this world — this one — is to make one small deflection in complacency, a small obstruction to profits, a blockage to business-as-usual, then another, and another, to change the energy of the flood.”
The upshot is that our small acts absolutely can make a difference in unexpected and possibly powerful ways. Our individual choices join with others’ choices to disrupt the flow of destructive ways of living. Small acts are a witness, inspiring others and contributing to a momentum of change that can trigger a social change faster than we anticipate. That’s what we need. Soon.
Argument 4: Channel Your Inner Greta Thunberg
Once in a while someone comes along who dispenses with the calculus of whether their sacrifices will amount to a hill of beans and just says, “Enough!” And thank God. One such person is the Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg.
I’m guessing she — or other young activists who came before her — has little time for those who say that individual choices don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Who would have thought that one schoolgirl sitting on the steps of the Swedish parliament building every Friday with a simple sign would change the world? Good thing she didn’t let the “smallness” of her individual act discourage her. The world is changed because she sat — alone.
Some of us choose to bury our heads in the sand and continue shopping. Some of us make halting steps as an increasingly grimmer picture of future life for our children emerges.
But sometimes you just have to shrug off all the moral calculus and just say, “Enough.” Will my solar panels make enough of a difference to justify my sacrifice in buying them? Stop thinking. Just take action now.
We all must do what we can — in our homes, our communities and our countries. Writing in Orion Magazine years ago, author and climate activist Bill McKibben captured the “both-and” approach we need: “If 10 percent of people, once they’ve changed the light bulbs, work all-out to change the system? That’s enough. That’s more than enough.”
So change your lightbulbs. Walk or bike instead of drive. We are all responsible, individually and together.
Reposted with permission from ENSIA.
Instead of wasting time trying to convert opponents, we should invest it in motivating passive allies to act.
November 20, 2019 — “How do you convince people that climate change is real?” is a question I’m invariably asked after I give a talk on climate change and health. Even as wildfires incinerate communities in California; hurricanes decimate islands, taking thousands of lives; and Qatar starts to air condition its outdoors from scorching heat, some continue to “not believe” in climate change.
I have struggled to come up with a convincing answer. Should I show them the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report? Share gut-wrenching facts on the mass extinction of species? Offer statements from trusted medical organizations?
But I know none of this would work. Research shows us that presenting scientific facts, the “information deficit model” of communication, is often not effective in changing deeply held beliefs about climate change.
So instead of asking myself how I should convince someone of climate change, I started asking why instead. The answer is simple, isn’t it? If they “believe” in climate change, they will want to take action. They will cut down their carbon footprint, vote …
I lost confidence in what I was saying halfway through that sentence. As a physician, I know how difficult behavior change is. Smokers, who are well aware of the harms of cigarettes, take a long time to move from the stage of “pre-contemplation,” where they are not considering quitting smoking, to the “action” phase of quitting smoking.
When we look at climate-behavior change, an analysis by Yale Climate Communications in 2018 might give us an insight into the tedious nature of the task. The study estimated that 70% of respondents believe in climate change. But only 57% believe humans cause it. So, first, we need to convince people it’s real. Then we need to convince them it’s man-made. Then we need to motivate them to take action — action that essentially requires changing every aspect of their lives.
Well, if we don’t convince everyone that climate change is real, how do we fix it? A common misconception is that to create change, everyone needs to act. However, the data show otherwise. According to the Washington Post, a Gallup Poll in 1961 showed only 28% of respondents in a U.S. survey approved of the lunch counter sit-ins and freedom buses during the Civil Rights movement. Only 57% supported same-sex marriage when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in its favor in 2015. Erica Chenoweth from Harvard University analyzed hundreds of nonviolent campaigns over the course of a century. She found that it takes only around 3.5% of the population actively participating in civil protests to cause real political change.
In other words, the efficient move now is to take the time and energy we want to expend on convincing deniers and use it instead to assemble the critical mass to turn the tide.
With a few exceptions — speaking truth to leaders in power and helping loved ones recognize the magnitude of the threat — we need to shift our way of approaching climate communication from changing minds to giving people already on board concrete tasks on which to take action.
An excellent way to visualize this is an advocacy tool called “Spectrum of Allies.” This tool is based on the premise that the most effective way to create social change is to convince, not vehement opponents, but people who are neutral about an issue or passively agree with you to support your cause.
The “Global Warming’s Six Americas” 2018 survey on climate attitudes of Americans showed that 29% are “alarmed” and are taking action. Another 30% are “concerned,” and 17% are “cautious” but not taking action. The Spectrum of Allies framework suggests that for greatest impact we should focus action-oriented climate communication on the latter two groups rather than trying to convince the 18% who fall in the “doubtful” and “dismissive” categories that they’re wrong.
So, what should you do when your uncle calls climate change a liberal hoax over the Thanksgiving dinner table?
Here’s my suggestion. Estimate how many minutes you would likely invest in this “discussion.” Then — don’t. Engage about something else that connects you on shared values. And once you’re done with the interaction, use the time you didn’t spend arguing about climate change to call your legislator or write a letter to the editor. Better yet, mobilize a friend who already believes climate change is a problem. Help them set up an in-person meeting with their representative, join a protest or build a relationship with a local environmental nonprofit.
We are past the time for convincing. It’s time to act.
Listen to a Climate Cast interview with Laalitha Surapaneni: Doctor’s advice: Forget the climate change deniers, focus on the ‘passive allies’
Editor’s note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily of Ensia. We present them to further discussion around important topics. We encourage you to respond with a comment below following our commenting guidelines, which can be found on this page, or submit a Voices piece of your own. See Ensia’s Contact page for submission guidelines. The author is a associate at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, where Ensia is based and which provides funding to Ensia. Ensia is an independent publication of IonE. To learn more, please see our Code of Ethics.
There is one simple step you can take that many climate experts say is the single most effective thing you can do to help solve the climate crisis. Talk about it with your friends and family members. Talk about why you care, and what actions you are taking to contribute to solutions.
There is no need to talk to skeptics or deniers. Talk to those who are concerned about climate change to some extent. As climate scientist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe has said, “The biggest challenge isn’t science denial, it’s complacency.”
Here are several resources to inspire you:
Katherine Hayhoe, Why you should talk about climate change right now, Gizmodo, October 13, 2021.
Funny 1-minute Video on talking about climate change.