Posted by Nathan Empsall, Sierra Club.
Earlier this week, we shared a video from Climate Parents, Mom’s Clean Air Force, and the Sierra Club about parents, kids, and the need to move forward on climate. Here it is again — this time, in Spanish!
In the first State of the Union address of his second term, U.S. President Barack Obama promised to tackle the greatest threat facing our planet – catastrophic climate change. The President made clear his continued commitment to use his executive authority to tackle U.S. carbon pollution and meet the country’s carbon pollution reduction targets. This strengthened federal policy should have implications for Canada which is lagging behind on its climate record. The President should also reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as part of his commitment to confront climate change.
Photo credit:Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States) via Wikimedia Commons
Americans recognize the imperative to act now. Last year, was the hottest year on record in the contiguous U.S. The effects of extreme climate change can be seen in every corner of the country: freak storms, raging wildfires, and persistent drought across the American heartland. These extreme weather events are costing jobs, creating massive economic losses, and wrecking homes and businesses. Climate change is already costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars. The total cost for Hurricane Sandy was $71 billion. Shrinking water levels along the Mississippi river has put more than $7 billion worth of goods at risk. And, sadly, extreme weather is costing lives. It’s no wonder that in a poll taken immediately after the State of the Union message, NRDC found that 65 percent of Americans think climate change is a serious or very serious problem.
President Obama’s commitment to tackle climate was unmistakable:
But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. …
The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.
Obama’s climate promise should have implications for Canada.
President Obama has committed the U.S. to reducing carbon pollution by 17 percent by 2020 and is clearly forging new leadership on this critical issue. This is in stark contrast with the Canadian federal government as Canada has slid backward, and there are no indications they will be able to meet their 17 percent goal. Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy have both said Canada does not have policies in place to meet its target. Canada’s climate track record reached a low point when Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that Canada would be the only country that has formally withdrawn from the Kyoto accord.
The President’s commitment to action should have implications for Canada’s growing tar sands oil industry and the decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a fundamental element in the oil industry’s plan to triple production of tar sands oil from 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 6 million bpd by 2030, and in the longer term to hike production to more than 9 million bpd. Approving a pipeline that would carry over 800,000 barrels of carbon intensive oil would be inconsistent with progress on climate.
Millions of citizens across America have sent President Obama their recommendations for making early progress on his climate promise. And last month, over 70 leading environmental organizations asked President Obama to take three actions :
Posted by Nathan Empsall, Sierra Club
From the Sierra Club. Posted by Nathan Empsall.
We have a moral obligation to ensure for a clean and safe planet for future generations. It is that simple, and it is why the Hip Hop Caucus rejects the proposed plans for the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
The Hip Hop Caucus has joined with 350.org, one of the most dynamic and efficacious climate movement organizations in existence today, and the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest environmental organization in the country, to co-convene the largest climate rally in U.S. history – Forward On Climate on Sunday, February 17, 2013. Over 80 organizations have partnered on this effort, and as a result of so many different groups and people coming together, the climate movement has never been so energized and mobilized.
The stakes are so very high. With so many people in the streets marching, with so many people on social media discussing and sharing information, and with so many diverse leaders and celebrities speaking out and standing up, President Obama truly has a serious decision in front of him. He can either reject the pipeline and stand with the people for a sustainable future for our planet, or he can approve the pipeline to please big oil companies who have spent over $150 million to promote this pipeline project.
I know there are those within President Obama’s fine Administration who are wondering why there are so many people making such a big deal about ‘this one pipeline project.’ The status-quo folks inside Washington, DC do not agree with the line in the sand that the movement has drawn. The line in the sand being that either President Obama is really about a sustainable future for this planet and the health of our people (if he rejects this pipeline project), or instead, he cannot overcome the incredible power of corporate oil interests on our political process (if he approves this pipeline project). This Keystone XL decision is a true litmus test.
The status-quo folks inside Washington, on the left and the right, would rather just give the oil lobby the decision they want on this pipeline, and have the movement look the other way.
I could not be prouder of the leadership of our fellow Forward On Climate Rally co-conveners 350.org and the Sierra Club, and all the partners listed here, for rising above the powerful culture in Washington, DC, where all are encouraged and incentivized not to demand what is right for the people, but to demand what is convenient for the politicians.
The thousands, upon thousands of people who are coming on buses from across the country this Sunday, February 17, sacrificing time, money and energy to march in the streets, are coming to demand what is right. It is surely not convenient for them to travel hours and hours so that they can march in the cold of February and then turn back around and ride home, facing a full workweek ahead. The climate movement is so energized right now because we are standing up for what is right, not what is easy, not what is politically expedient.
This is a courageous moment for our movement, which in turn demands courage from for our President. I believe President Obama is a courageous leader who will make the right decision by rejecting the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, and when he does, the people who elected him for a second term - the young, the old, the working class, the middle class, the beautiful Black, Brown, Asian, White, and American Indian people of this country - will have his back.
Join us this Sunday, February 17! #ForwardOnClimate.
From crippling drought to Hurricane Sandy, and overall record-breaking temperatures extremes across the country, it’s hard to ignore the effects of climate change. The American people recognize that the climate is changing. President Obama’s inaugural speech included a call to action on climate change and organizers across the country intend to hold him to it – starting with the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s why the Will Steger Foundation along with 120+ organizations across the US have joined the Sierra Club and 350.org to launch Forward On Climate rally, expected to be the largest climate rally in U.S. history - February 17th on the National Mall in Washington DC. 350.org is calling it “the largest symbol of hope for a safe climate future that this country has ever seen,” with tens of thousands of people expected to attend.
Young people are expected to make up a large number of the participants with organizations like the Energy Action Coalition, League of Young Voters, the Hip Hop Caucus, and the Sierra Student Coalition organizing massive youth turnout across the U.S. The President’s inaugural address hit home for a generation of young Americans deeply committed to tackling the most pressing issue of our time.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” - Barack Obama, January 22nd, 2013
In the words of Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition’s young Executive Director: “The inaugural address felt like both a validation of all the work we’ve been doing, and a renewed call to action.” Two years ago, Maura and a small group of key youth leaders sat down across the table from the President. “I will never forget his words,” she wrote in a recent blog post, “Your job is to push me.” Youth across the country are working tirelessly to do just this.
For Midwest youth, the call to action is tied closely to a deep sense of place and regional identity. The Upper Midwest is home to some of the United State’ largest industrial and agricultural centers and a major emitter of greenhouse gasses. The region is poised to play a pivotal role in America’s clean energy future because of this strong industrial base, as well as its vast potential for generating power from wind and other renewable sources, and the crucial role of its Congressional delegations in shaping national energy policy.
Student organizers in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota have been deeply involved in the coal fight, successfully organizing to transition their campuses off of coal and joining larger coalitions to close municipal plants such as the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago. Members of the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition have been working tirelessly with partners across the state to halt the unregulated fracking boom currently underway. In Minnesota and Michigan, students are lobbying for clean energy policies at the state level and modeling sustainability initiatives in a wide range of communities.
Across the Midwest youth are organizing in large numbers to send delegations to the Forward on Climate rally – most traveling by bus. Liz Starke, Coordinator for the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, feels the momentum building and sees 2013 as the time to focus on “building power, in our movement and network and in our students.” The rally provides an opportunity to energize youth climate networks across the U.S., and send the message loud and clear that a generation of young people demand action to ensure a clean and just energy future.
A preliminary count of Midwest youth turnout for the rally includes (as of February 11th):
The Will Steger Foundation is committed to empowering youth climate leadership across the Midwest as a critical means to winning on climate. We are proud to support a delegation of high school students from our Youth Environmental Activists Minnesota (YEA! MN) program who will be joining the rally and sharing their experiences through video and blogs. Stay tuned!
Posted by Daniel Kessler, 350.org
Incredible video from around the world.
Posted by Nathan Empsall, Sierra Club
Dear President Barack Obama,
Your legacy as 44th president of the United States rests firmly on your leadership on climate disruption. Only the president has the power to lead an effort on the scale and with the urgency we need to phase out fossil fuels and lead America, and the world, in a clean energy revolution.
We support your demonstrating the strongest resolve in fighting the climate crisis on every front.
Michael Brune (Sierra Club)
Bill McKibben (350.org)
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. (Hip Hop Caucus)
Van Jones (Rebuild the Dream)
Julian Bond (NAACP)
Tom Steyer (The Center for the Next Generation)
Edward James Olmos
Medeski Martin & Wood
Mike de la Rocha
My Morning Jacket
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
The Black Angels
The Wood Brothers