On eve of Senate showdown and COP15, the climate movement locks in
Photo: 1SkyAside from all the immense negatives, the recent Van Jones character assassination has done one very important thing for the climate movement: catalyzed our passionate opposition to dirty energy and politics as usual, while cementing our determination to achieve clean energy solutions this fall.
It’s as if you can hear the collective fist-clenching of youth organizers and activists in communities and campuses across the country. It is a signal that the battle for just and prosperous clean energy solutions has begun again. The climate movement has been preparing for this moment, and whether we fail or succeed, the movement as a whole will look back on this fall as the turning point in our activism.
As this summer progressed, and especially as the events of the last few weeks transpired, all of us have realized that the Senate side of the climate-bill debate will be much different and much harder than our spring organizing in the House. The game has changed, new players have arrived, and the climate movement has been forced to adjust to the new playing field.
The health-care debate showed that there was no floor for the underhanded and scandalous tactics of entrenched industries and interests. The coal and oil companies quickly copied the playbook. Now the most important global legislative challenge of our time has begun to take a back seat due to the current “political climate,” and the administration seems unwilling to get into the ring. To overcome these barriers and achieve legislative change during this vital window of opportunity, the climate movement needs to mobilize, engage, and collaborate on an unprecedented level — and that’s exactly what it is preparing to do.
Three national partners are set to join forces for the first time by executing a collaborative and diverse campaign. Energy Action Coalition, Avaaz, and Focus the Nation, each with their unique campaign plans and strategies, have spent the last few weeks coordinating to maximize impact and flex the most organizing muscle possible.
EAC’s Power Shift campaign is preparing for statewide Power Shift summits in targeted states across the country, and as its numbers swell with youth activists signing up, it remains the most visible beacon within the youth climate movement to get involved and take action. With the help of national and regional partners, EAC will not only generate great statewide trainings, but also tens of thousands of letters and phone calls into the White House and Senate offices calling for a strong climate bill and a strong presence at the COP15 global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.
Focus the Nation has transformed its 2008 town-hall model into a system of more inclusive and diverse community forums. In targeted states across the country, these “clean energy forums” will bring constituents together to discuss clean energy solutions and make strong asks of their senators, thus creating important systems of political accountability and intergenerational constituency-building for the Senate debate on climate legislation.
Avaaz and 350.org will host actions to increase the visibility of the debate, and create important levels of inspiration and awareness across the country and the globe. Avaaz is set to host a series of creative demonstrations around the capital throughout the fall, and 350.org has set Oct. 24 as a day of action across the world. Powerful images of these actions and demonstrations will circulate to policy makers and media outlets across the grid to maximize impact and remind people that every voice counts in this fight — even if politics isn’t your cup of tea.
Catapulted by the momentum generated in its “Back to DC” campaign, 1Sky is also gearing up to activate its large grassroots network for Senate-side engagement. The new Clean Energy Works Coalition is set to join the fight as well. The coalition, made up of hunters, farmers, veterans, environmental, and labor organizations, plans to target 28 Midwestern, Western, and Southern states with hundreds of field workers, a lobbying campaign, and television, radio, and internet advertising.
Whether they are planning a state Power Shift summit, a clean energy forum, a 1Sky “Flood the Senate” house party, or all of the above, young people across this country are igniting their peers and communities for action. The same generation with the organizing and electoral power to elect the first black president is set to accomplish another great feat.
If successful, this movement will give the Senate and Obama administration a clear choice: Stand up, utilize the political backing they have been given, and strengthen and support the climate legislation; or ignore their constituency, and gamble their children’s future away by representing the dirty industries of a failing and unjust pollution-based economy. The creation of this dichotomy will not just achieve the climate solutions we and future generations all deserve, but it will lift our towns up and shift the political winds back to a system where policy makers are accountable to those they represent.