By Acacia Williams, Dana Johnson, Micah Parkin, and Mary Gilbert
Just over a week ago, climate activists across 17 states campaigned with rallies, meetings, calls, and letters to demand that their elected officials protect the Clean Air Act. The message was clear: represent your constituents, not your corporate donors.
In states such as Colorado, the message was a 'thank you' to climate champions. In Michigan, however, hundreds of people loudly voiced their disappointment with Representative Fred Upton’s recent Dirty Air Act and choice to side with corporate polluters instead of his constituents.
Every now and then, we here at 1Sky
are invited to work together with a local climate group doing something extra special -- and we love
invitations to get involved. Why do we like it? The truth is that facts and figures only get you so far in the world (and occasionally
just hold you back); whereas stories not only inspire us to work harder, they also personalize
the everyday battle for a safer planet.
With just over two days left to go in at the climate talks in Cancun, the U.S. is unfortunately emerging as one of the main roadblocks to progress. Unwilling to move forward with urgency on any given issue unless other issues advance at the same pace, the U.S.'s negotiating stance is effectively stalling out the talks, to the great frustration of civil society organizations here.
We are about to enter Week 2 of the U.N. climate negotiations. It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours.
We arrived late Saturday night and immediately trotted down to Señor Frog’s, where the civil society representatives at the talks were partying like it was 1999. It felt like a climate spring break, maybe because some folks required a shot of tequila or two to deal with a couple key disappointments during Week 1.
As I write this post, the year 2010 is now known to be the hottest on record globally. Climate scientist James Hansen predicts that, once we get beyond the cooling effects of La Nina this winter, 2011 will be even hotter. Time is running out for the U.S. to show leadership in slowing the rate of climate change from greenhouse gas emissions.
Janelle Corn, Ph.D., is an ecologist and wildlife biologist living in western Montana. She has lived and worked in the western U.S. for 30 years, and is currently an activist for addressing climate change before it's too late. Her new blog is Natural History Now. The author's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the 1Sky campaign.
Young voters celebrated a decisive victory against Big Oil by defeating a deceptive ballot measure, Prop 23. The initiative, funded with millions of dollars from oil corporations, sought to wreck California's clean energy economy and effectively repeal the state’s landmark clean air and clean energy laws.
Who owns our democracy: Big Business or We the People?
Corporations -- led by Big Oil and Dirty Coal -- are trying to buy this election in plain sight. Their front groups are on target to spend more than $300 million to buy the election -- and this is after big polluters have already spent a fortune lobbying Congress, mounting a PR offensive after the BP oil spill, and trying to kill California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) with Propositions 23 and 26.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, there's been an unprecedented amount of outside spending during the 2010 mid-term elections, with a far greater increase in funds from conservative-leaning outside groups. Right-wing groups have spent $169.2 million so far -- up from $19.6 million in the last midterm (increased by a factor of 8.5). Analysis from Center for American Progress notes that more than $68 million of outside political spending is coming from dirty energy industries like Big Oil and coal-heavy electric utilities.
It’s impossible to look past the corporate influence in this election cycle -- brought on by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling -- from big polluters and climate science deniers. It's glaring even at the state level: Out of eight Northeast states with contested governor's races, only Vermont has a race where both candidates affirm climate science. Anti-climate candidates in these key states could roll back the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) or state renewable energy standards.
There’s no sugarcoating the chances for future comprehensive climate policy in the next two years. In fact, we anticipate an all-out attack on the EPA and the Clean Air Act by several House and Senate members.
But anger and despair can’t lead to inaction or apathy. Voting still matters for the climate movement. Why?
Recent polling consistently shows an 11-point spread against California Proposition 23. Getting the vote out in California is crucial to defeating both Prop 23 and Prop 26 at the polls and widening a margin that only a month ago favored Big Oil.
Climate champions like Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) are all committed to pushing for climate-related legislation next year. Waxman told Politico: "I think the issue is becoming more and more serious and people are realizing it, which I hope will increase the pressure on the Congress to take the actions we need to.”
Brad Johnson at the Wonk Room outlines 15 House races and six Senate races where climate heroes are running against climate deniers. These are races in which candidates need to hear that climate is still an issue.
More importantly, voting is a right that gives voice to your concern about climate change. People in the climate movement -- or anyone who believes in what we’re doing to avert a climate crisis and bring about an energy revolution -- can push back on Big Oil and Dirty Coal by exercising their right to vote. See you at the polls on Tuesday!
California’s ballot initiative Proposition 23 has received a tremendous amount of public attention and financial support from both sides over the past few months. Prop 23 would suspend implementation of the state’s AB32 climate change law that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 until unemployment falls below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. Thanks to the large coalition of investors, politicians, and influential figures that have sided with the ‘No on Prop 23' campaign, it appears as though the measure to prevent climate progress in California has little chance of passing.With the majority of Prop 23 funding coming from two Texas-based oil companies, namely Tesoro and Valero, gaining support to reject this blatant effort by out of state big oil to stop carbon regulation has been relatively easy to do.
While the public has been focused on efforts to stop Prop 23, an alternative “stealth initiative” filed as Proposition 26 has gone practically undetected by comparison. Prop 26 would effectively derail AB32's carbon reduction mechanisms such as the renewable energy standard and cap and trade program by amending “the state constitution to require a two-thirds majority -- rather than the current simple majority -- to enact any regulatory fees by declaring them taxes,” reports SustainableBusiness.com. The proposition officially named “the Stop the Hidden Taxes Initiative” but commonly referred to as the ”Polluter Protection Act” is being spearheaded by Big Oil, along with tobacco and alcohol companies, to essentially strip away the funding needed to effectively run AB32. Most notably, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would find it almost impossible to raise the necessary fees needed to implement auctioning, monitoring and reporting systems needed to run an effective cap and trade program if a supermajority vote from the Senate was required.