Sign Now: Wet’suwet’en solidarity in the face of disaster capitalism

As I type this, in the midst of a pandemic, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in Canada is under attack by the same company behind the KeystoneXL pipeline.

We’ve seen this again and again over the last few days: Billionaire oil CEOs and industry lobbyists see the corona virus crisis as an opportunity to push through fossil fuel infrastructure and demand massive government bailouts while they think the world is looking the other way.

Today, it’s happening in Canada as TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) is pushing ahead with construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, putting communities and their workers at even more risk. The investment firm KKR is in the process of buying 65% of Coastal GasLink. If we can stop the sale, we can help stop the pipeline from being built.

That’s why today, March 23rd, we’re joining allies and friends across North America (turtle island) to flood the inbox, phone lines, and twitter feeds of this projects financiers with messages telling them to respect the rights of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and drop the risky Coastal GasLink pipeline immediately!

Take a moment to sign our #ShutDownKKR petition and tell all your friends to do the same! If you’ve already signed (more than 140,000 of us have as I type this), click here to take the next steps by writing, calling, and/or tweeting at KKR.

Here’s the back story, if you’re just learning about the Wet’suwet’en today:

The same company that wanted to build the KeystoneXL pipeline, TC Energy, is about to start building a 417-mile, multibillion dollar fossil fuel pipeline in northern British Columbia, Canada. It’s set to cut right through Wet’suwet’en lands without the consent of the hereditary chiefs. To protect their sovereignty and defend their lands, different camps were built along the pipeline route where land defenders have been living for over 6 years.

In the last month, militarized police have raided the Wet’suwet’en camps with assault rifles, dogs, sound cannons, and helicopters while Indigenous elders and youth stood by in shock. Now, all eyes are on Wet’suwet’en — and their hereditary chiefs are urgently calling out for massive global support. 

Here in the U.S., you can help by calling out the largest funders of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, JPMorgan Chase and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR). Their plans to invest in the pipeline aren’t final and there’s still time to stop them.

Sign the petition to protect Wet’suwet’en & demand climate chaos profiteers JPMorgan Chase and KKR to stop financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

photo credit Michael Toledano

Climate action in the age of Corona virus

It’s happened. A global pandemic crisis, which climate advocates have been warning was an ever-greater risk as permafrost and arctic ice melts, has arrived and nothing is the same in the wake of the virus. If you’re sick or caring for those who are – keep going. If you’ve got a little spare time, I’ve got 3 simple actions you can take (and a PS) right now to keep fighting climate change in the time of viral pandemic.

*UPDATE* Senators McConnell and Schumer are negotiating a corona virus response bill this evening (March 20, 2020). And, even more exciting, 16 Senators (Merkley, Booker, Sanders, Warren, Schatz, Hirono, Gillibrand, Wyden, Durbin, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Harris, Carper, Van Hollen, Duckworth, Markey) have issued the letter pressing on Senators Schumer and McConnell to include a national moratorium on all electricity, water, telecom and other shut-offs in the coronavirus stimulus package.

Click here or use the links below to send a letter to your Senators, now updated with this info and demand!

  1. Tell the Senate to focus on economic relief for people and communities, not the biggest polluting corporations on earth.
  2. Keep your eyes on the frontlines. We’ve already seen attempts to arrest protestors, expedite fossil fuel projects, and other climate crimes during the pandemic. Start by signing our solidarity petition with the Wet’suwet’en in Canada and #ShutDownKKR.
  3. Learn about mutual aid efforts to build an emergency Green New Deal right now in our own communities. Get involved how you can with your neighbors – as our friends at ShutDownDC said: solidarity is the best medicine.

More details, updates and news are below.

And my PS is simply that this project was created to provide digital support for direct action movements fighting climate change. The direct action work is having a moment of crisis and opportunity, but the digital part is more important than ever. Stay tuned for more emails, posts, actions and asks from us in the next few weeks as we try and skill up the movement and retool out tactics to adapt to our quickly changing times.

Tell the Senate to invest in people, not polluters

As I type, the US Senate is considering a potential trillion dollar ($1,000,000,000,000) economic relief package. Initial bad ideas included direct bailouts of the fracking and fossil fuel industries. The more recent bad ideas have included a big bailout of the airline industry (who needs help to support workers, but doesn’t deserve a bailout without strings and scrutiny).

Senate champions like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (and others) are pushing back on those bad ideas, and raising questions about how to condition economic assistance on plans to pay workers, invest in communities, and more. Sanders, Warren and 14 others (Merkley, Booker, Schatz, Hirono, Gillibrand, Wyden, Durbin, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Harris, Carper, Van Hollen, Duckworth, Markey) have issued a letter pressing on Senators Schumer and McConnell to include a national moratorium on all electricity, water, telecom and other shut-offs in the coronavirus stimulus package.

This is the urgent thing you can do now: Click here to tell your Senators to make sure any economic recovery bill helps workers and communities – not corporations and polluters.

Keep your eyes on the Frontlines

Over the last few weeks as this crisis has developed, we’ve seen authoritarians in the Trump administration and elsewhere use the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on public debate and push through fossil fuel projects. As our dear-friends at Rising Tide said earlier: We need all eyes on the frontlines.

A few examples from the last few days of authoritarianism and fossil-fueled despots acting up:

  1. Last Thursday, Senate Republicans rammed through a vote on James Danly to be a new commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Danly is the first totally partisan nominee – traditionally one Democrat and one Republican are nominated together. And more than 14,000 of us wrote demadning changes at FERC (all your signatures were delivered to each Senator before the vote) But Danly is a fossil fuel industry darling, and Senators Murkowski, Manchin and McConnell were eager for him to secure their majority on FERC, which oversees all inter-state pipelines and fossil fuel export facilities. And now we know why: Hours after Danly was confirmed FERC fast-tracked the application to build the Jordan Cove gas export terminal proposed in Oregon, which was denied a permit by one vote in February. *Update* Sad to report that less than a week after ramming through a partisan nominee, FERC did vote to approve the Jordan Cove terminal in Oregon. Read more here.
  2. The comment period on Trump’s radical plan to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) closed last week, three days before Trump declared a National Emergency on corona virus. And the Trump team continues to push forward with efforts to ban science, public input, and community opposition to fossil fuel projects.
  3. The same company that wants to build the KeystoneXL pipeline, TCEnergy (formerly TransCanada), is about to start building a multibillion fracked gas pipeline in Canada. It’s set to cut right through Wet’suwet’en lands without the consent of their hereditary chiefs. In the last month, police have raided Wet’suwet’en protest camps with assault rifles, dogs, sound cannons, and helicopters.

Now, all eyes are on Wet’suwet’en — and their hereditary chiefs are urgently calling out for massive global support. KKR is in the process of buying 65% of Coastal GasLink. If we can stop the sale, we can help stop the pipeline from being builtTake a moment to sign our #ShutDownKKR petition and tell all your friends to do the same!

If you’ve already signed (more than 125,000 of us have already) check out the #ShutDownKKR: Get Your Hands Off Wet’suwet’en Lands! Toolkit for more information on how you can take action.

Solidarity is the best medicine.

In response to the coronavirus, community-based mutual aid groups are forming to support each other by sharing resources, running errands, providing financial support, and emotional care to each other. Dozens of groups have formed or been re-formed in the last few days.

Here are a few idea ideas on how you can take action for a just response to the coronavirus, from our friends at Rising Tide North America:

PS – What’s next

This is the dawning of a new age of organizing. As you’ve heard, this spring’s climate strikes, which were going to be the biggest climate mobilization in global history, are advising us to not plan in-person events and rallies.

Other networks we’re a part of, like the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition and ShutDownDC are similarly adapting their plans for big, rebellious spring actions.

When I started this project after Trump’s election, I thought we could be of service by offering digital support to direct action campaigns on climate change. Over the last few years, we’ve done a lot of that – some of it very recently as you can see from the #2 section above.

Now, as public events, gatherings and protests are canceled, there’s even more need for what we do. We’ve already started talking to our old friends at Beyond Extreme Energy about a series of webinars or live-streams that share skills for campaigning online in an era of social-distancing. We’ve got decades of experience, and dozens of examples of using facebook live, websites, call and text tools, and more to drive change and back up actions in the streets. And we intend to share what we know, learn more about what you and other groups are doing, and build a bigger, more courageous and more digitally-empowered movement for radical climate action in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned for updates later this week, and more ways you can be learn, teach and engage online.

And we intend to share what we know, learn more about what you and other groups are doing, and build a bigger, more courageous and more digitally-empowered movement for radical climate action in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned for updates later this week, and more ways you can be learn, teach and engage online.

Stop Trump’s NEPA rollback

This is the last week to comment on Trump’s latest plan to to ram through climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects without public comment or environmental review. 

If you haven’t heard, Trump’s latest scam is to fundamentally alter the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is a one of America’s oldest environmental laws, created in the 1970s and 80s along with the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, all of which Trump is also trying to undermine

This is the last week to speak out against Trump’s NEPA rollback in the public comment process. Will you send an official comment now?

Where the Endangered Species, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts protect specific resources — like animals, water and air — NEPA regulates how any infrastructure project is reviewed by the federal government. Fundamentally, it is supposed to say that you can’t build a new pipeline, power plant, or other infrastructure project without considering the impact on our environment and giving the public a chance to consider those impacts too. 

Trump want’s to do away with that – and is proposing that climate impacts, in particular, are no longer studied or reviewed. It’s not exactly surprising coming from Trump’s team — but it is incredibly dangerous. Trump’s NEPA rollback would not only exclude climate impacts from being considered, they would silence frontline communities by eliminating town-hall meetings and public comment periods

The window for us to take radical action that averts climate catastrophe is rapidly closing. With less than 10 years to overhaul our economy and society, we need more tools to asses and report on the climate impacts of every infrastructure project, not less. And as we’ve seen from Standing Rock to West Virginia, not to mention the ongoing human rights violations against the Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation in Canada this is no time to cut public comment or remove indigenous consent from the decision making process.

The comment period closes this week, but there’s still time to get your statement in. If enough of us speak out,  we have a chance to delay Trump’s rollback, and we strengthen the case of our friends who are suing the Trump administration in court. If we can delay this disastrous plan even by a few months, a new president can choose to not only stop Trump’s deadly deregulation, but invest in the opposite; Strengthening NEPA so that it is an even more vibrant and accessible tool to stop the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure and kickstart a Green New Deal.

Send your letter now to stop Trump’s rollback of NEPA, one of our bedrock environmental laws.

Investigate Rick Perry

You remember Rick Perry as Trump’s former Secretary of Energy – the man appointed to lead an agency he famously said he would eliminate, but could not recall the name of during a 2016 Republican Presidential Debate. You might also remember that as one of the “three amigos” Perry was a minor player in Trump’s impeachment drama, which might be what convinced him to resign abruptly at the end of last year.

But did you know that Perry, less than a few weeks out from the revolving door at the Department of Energy is rejoining the board at Energy Transfer LP? Energy Transfer is the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, and dozens of other environmental calamities. And Perry’s quick return to the paid employ of these climate profiteers is not just unseemly, it might be illegal.

Will you help us shine a light on the revolving door between climate criminals and Trump’s cabinet by demanding Congress investigate Rick Perry?

Perry’s term as Energy Secretary was not exactly time spent away from the fossil fuel industry. He met with major coal leaders and proposed to bail out the entire coal industry. He pressured the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to support fossil fuels over renewables. And he was a huge supporter of the US exporting more fracked gas, famously praising it as “molecules of freedom”

But it was his help negotiating gas deals with high-ranking Ukraine officials in the middle of Trump’s campaign to get them to dig up ‘dirt’ on Joe Biden that got Congress’ attention. Perry quickly resigned, rather than face questions. But it turns out Congress can still hold him accountable – if they have the political will to act.

In the age of climate crisis we now live in, the Department of Energy has a tremendous opportunity, and obligation, to take action. We’ve already suggested how FERC, which is technically an independent division of the DOE, could be transformed into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission as part of a Green New Deal. And that’s only one part of the transformation the Energy Department could lead – investing in renewables, innovation, job training, battery storage, infrastructure to make our communities resilient to climate impacts – candidates and climate leaders have been laying out plans for more than a year.

As Energy Secretary, Rick Perry had a duty to act on those plans and proposals in ways that would save lives and fight the climate crisis. Instead, he cashed in a favor to go back to the board room of one of the biggest companies in the world profiting off climate chaos. At Energy Transfer, again, he’ll make big bucks ramping up fossil fuel infrastructure that locks us into decades of further dependence on the fuels that threaten our climate and common home. This cannot go unchallenged.

Sign the petition to demand Congress investigate Rick Perry who never stopped getting paid to work for climate criminals.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Day #F2D2

2020 is shaping up to be the year of Divestment, and today is a great day to join in the fun! Right now, students at more than 50 college and university campuses are taking action today for Fossil Fuel Divestment Day and online using the hashtags hashtags #fossilfueldivestmentday & #F2D2. They’re taking a stand and fighting for climate justice by calling on their universities to divest — or withdraw their assets — from fossil fuel corporations. (You can read their op-ed announcing the action in TeenVogue here)

If you’re a student, faculty or administrator at a college or university, we hope you’ll get out and join the #F2D2 actions today. But for everyone else (and everyone in general) there’s another divestment campaign you can support as well – Divestment of our local, state, and federal employees’ pension funds. Click here to write to your local elected officials and demand they divest our public pensions in honor of Fossil Fuel Divestment Day!

Every single one of us is subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with our tax dollars, and we don’t even know it! That’s because nearly all public pension funds in the U.S. are invested in fossil fuel companies. That’s the retirement savings of every public school teacher, every local fire fighter, and all of our Mayors, County clerks, and other hard-working state and local officials being used to prop up the profiteers of climate chaos.

In many cases, the same first responders on the front lines of responding to climate chaos have their retirement funds invested in fossil fuel companies causing the problem.

To make matters worse, state pension funds’ investments in fossil fuels actually place our those workers’ retirement at risk. Fossil Fuel companies are already underperforming compared to the rest of the market. And when the “carbon bubble” bursts, it could cause losses greater than the 2008 financial crisis, according to a recent study.

The Big California pension funds CalSTRS and CalPERS, which represent nearly three million retired teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public employees, lost more than $17 billion already, costing an average teacher or firefighter $5,572 – $6,072.

That’s probably why “Mad Money” creator Jim Cramer (no friend of the climate movement) recently said, “I’m done with fossil fuels. They’re done.”

One essential step in solving the climate crisis is to move our collective money – bank accounts, retirement funds, insurance coverage all of it – away from the fossil fuel companies that are causing the climate crisis, and instead invest in a just transition to a low-carbon economy based on renewable energy and green jobs. State Treasurers, Governors, and local elected officials have the power to divest these massive state and local pension funds. But they wont act unless we speak out together, and in support of bold youth-led movements like today’s.

It’s time to demand that our elected officials act to freeze all investments in fossil fuel companies and divest public funds from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels.

Sign and send a letter to your governor and state legislators urging them to divest pension funds from fossil fuel industries. It is time to stop supporting climate chaos with our retirement money!

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline stops (here)

On Feb 24, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case to determine if the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) can cross the Appalachian trail. This is the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case about a pipeline in years. And the first chance in years to put a meaningful check on the power of pipelines and the fossil fuel industry.

Nor is this likely to be the last case the court hears on pipeline siting – other rulings striking down an ACP Compressor station and several other cases are moving through the courts challenge pipeline companies’ right to claim a ‘public necessity’ to take private land through eminent domain and degrade public benefits like health and climate.

We invite all pipeline fighters, mountain defenders, Water protectors and climate resisters should join us in DC on the morning of February 24, 2020. Together we will demonstrate the resolve and power of impacted communities and allies to stop the ACP and all pipelines, no matter what.

While the legal teams for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Sierra Club make their case to the Justices inside the courtroom, we will demonstrate that a majority of the public outside the court wants a check on the power of fossil fuel and pipeline companies.

It is the responsibility of the Court to hold the interest of citizens in balance with the Executive and Legislative Branches of government.  With the undue influence that fossil fuel and pipeline companies have currently, it is critical that we unify our movement through escalated action against all pipelines and to let our position be known.  

Click here to RSVP and join us on the morning of February 24 at the Supreme Court.

A lot of details are To Be Determined, but this we know:

  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is an environmental and human rights disaster. 
    • If built, the ACP would generate more than 67 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year — the equivalent of 20 coal plants. 
    • It would require 38 miles of mountaintop removal and damage thousands of acres of farm and forest land.
    • What’s more, the ACP would disproportionately harm poor, African-American and Indigenous communities all along the route. The plan includes building an enormous fracked gas compressor stations in Union Hill — an African-American community of great historical and cultural significance in Virginia — and thirty thousand Native peoples live in the project area across North Carolina.
  • To demonstrate the seriousness of this issue, and our resolve to stop the ACP and all climate-wrecking pipelines, many of us are prepared to risk arrest at this event. 
  • We will do nothing that is violent and nothing to disrupt the oral arguments, which we want to proceed and hope to win along with allies in Virginia and West Virginia who brought the case.

There will be roles and responsibilities for all who want them, just like there always are in our movement. To make it possible for as many people to participate as possible, we’ll host a communal breakfast, prayer vigil, and briefing on Monday February 24 for those who are able to join. 

We also welcome your participation with shared travel, housing and other arrangements. Let us know on the form if you need assistance or are interested in helping.

Sign now to turn FERC into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been binging on fossil fuel approvals again. In the last few months they’ve voted on party line to make ratepayers pay more money to subsidize fossil fuels, tried to influence the outcome of court decision in favor of fossil fuels before the trial, and called the fight to stop tolling orders a “losing the PR battle badly”.

At the same time, a growing number of elected officials and candidates are seriously considering our proposal to turn FERC into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC) as part of a Green New Deal. Leading presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have signed on, and Congress held a hearing last week on potential reforms to the Natural Gas Act.

FERC’s next meeting is February 20th, and our friends at Beyond Extreme Energy and many other groups will be making our presence felt. Sign on to this statement to support them, and consider their invitation to join us in DC as well!

What’s FERC been up to that’s so bad?

That is why 198 methods, BXE and 220 other organizations are campaigning for FERC to be replaced by FREC, a new Federal Renewable Energy Commission. As part of a Green New Deal, FREC would be charged with ending all fossil fuel use and regulating utility markets as they transition to 100% clean and renewable power over the next few years.

We urge you to consider taking part with us in our nonviolent action on February 20th. Click here to learn more and sign up to join us in DC.

As a first step, please sign our petition to turn FERC Into FREC. We’ll deliver all the signatures to leaders in Congress and on the campaign trail.

Fire William Pendley, Trump’s racist, climate denying public lands director

If you’ve been paying attention for the last 3 years, it won’t shock you to learn that William Pendley, Trump’s Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is a climate-denying white nationalist.

But even in Trump’s swamp, Pendley is worth paying attention to – because this corrupt critter is dangerous, dirty and Congress has the power to remove him – if we speak out.

Sign here to tell Congress: Acting Director William Pendley must resign or be removed from heading the Bureau of Land Management.

Let’s start with the basics. The BLM is responsible for maintaining federal lands and resources for everyone’s benefit across the country. They manage federal monuments and wilderness areas, and even have a role in protecting national parks. The job of the BLM director is, basically, to take care of public lands. To be a good steward and protect them for future generations.

But that’s not Trump and Pendley’s vision. Pendley is a long-time advocate of selling off public lands or giving them to states to sell. His vision is about profit, not protection — and he’s made a fortune selling our public lands to the fossil fuel industry for a pittance. Pendley’s last job was lawyer for a couple counties in Utah that wanted to carve up sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments for drilling, fracking and mining. Check out this informative video from the Years Project for more.

Like a lot of corrupt, climate-denying Trump administration officials, including his Boss Andrew Bernhardt, and Bernhardt’s predecessor Ryan Zinke, Pendley never stopped working for the fossil fuel industry. At last count, Pendley had a whopping 57 conflicts of interest — and that’s just the ones he’s chosen to disclose to the ethics office.

But actions speak louder than disclosure reports, and Pendley is not only corrupt, but a climate-denier. At BLM he’s prioritized killing Wild Horses over action to stop climate change. And Pendley literally wrote a book (5 of them, actually) on fighting environmental laws and deregulating public lands in which he calls conservation “radical” says scientists lie or cheat to accomplish their goals, calls Native American religions “pantheism” and accuses the government of carrying out a “war” on the western states. Which is one reason why nearly 100 environmental groups have denounced him publicly.

Being an anti-environment climate denier is bad enough, but Pendley’s brand of public land for private profit also traffics in white nationalism. Pendley has argued that “local law enforcement bears primary responsibility for enforcing state and federal laws,” amplifying the agenda of white nationalist organization Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

It’s the same ideology that lead him to support the Bundy family when they held a Wildlife refuge at gunpoint. Those same ranchers were later pardoned by Donald Trump.

Any one of these actions – his conflicts of interest, his climate denial, his radically anti-public lands message or his close ties to white nationalist militias is enough to disqualify Pendley from serving. And here’s the thing: Pendley is only at BLM by Congress’ agreement – he’s another “acting” director who can be hauled in front of Congress to explain his past-deeds, and removed if enough members of Congress don’t like his answers.

So let’s get the ball rolling on that and remove another racist, corrupt, climate Denying Trump administration official before its too late! Sign the petition: Demand Acting Director William Pendley resign or be removed from heading the Bureau of Land Management.

Trump’s racist, climate denying Puerto Rico Policy

Last summer, more than 70,000 of us wrote, called and spoke out to Demand Congress send emergency relief money to Puerto Rico despite the Trump Administration’s racist objections. More than 200 days later, and after Puerto Rico has been rocked by earthquakes left more than 8,000 people without a safe home to sleep in, Ben Carson is releasing less than half the money, and only on the conditions that Puerto Rico pay workers less than $15 an hour, and do nothing about the island’s electric grid.

The crisis is still unfolding, but one thing is clear: Trump and Ben Carson – his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – are using aid money Congress has already appropriated as leverage to enforce their racist, climate-denying policy agenda. Will you speak out now to stop them? Sign here to demand Trump and Carson stop illegally withholding ALL federal aid to Puerto Rico.

Sadly, this is only the latest example of how Trump combines climate denial and racism into a policy that hurts our neighbors and fellow citizens. Carson was legally required to disburse the money last September, but has been delaying the release of $18 billion that Congress appropriated for Puerto Rico. The money is supposed to upgrade infrastructure, including the islands old and fossil-fuel powered electric grid, and help mitigate and adapt to climate-fueled super storms like Maria.

Trump’s ongoing anti-Puerto Rico agenda– to deny 3.2 million Puerto Ricans funding—is based on racial and ethnic prejudice, petty politics, and a calculated agenda to beat down the island’s economy and people so banking and big real estate & development cronies can cash in. A slew of reports have shown that the island remains at great risk of natural and man-made disasters. The 2020 Global Climate Risk Index ranked Puerto Rico, along with Myanmar and Haiti, at the top of places most vulnerable to extreme weather events.

If the money had been spent on-time, it’s possible that houses, schools and the electric grid could also have been more resilient to the huge earthquakes that rocked the island in recent weeks.

Instead, HUD is releasing less than half the money – about $8 billion in emergency disaster aid funding. And that movement is only coming after intense coverage of the human suffering caused by the earthquakes, and after Congress threatened to defund all of HUD unless they answered questions.

We’re proud to fight alongside allies from the Power 4 Puerto Rico Coalition once more. Together, we demand that Carson and Trump release ALL the aid money, and stop adding ridiculous pre-conditions like how much to pay workers. Sign here if you agree and tell Trump and Carson to stop illegally blocking aid for Puerto Rico. Note – after you sign well redirect you to a page where you can chip in to support local PR groups working to rebuild after the earthquakes.

2020 foresight

2020 and the new decade are not off to a very encouraging start: Australia is on fire. So is the Amazon and there was just a huge oil spill in Brazil. Puerto Rico is being rocked by earthquakes even as it struggles to get the relief money Congress appropriated, and which Trump’s racist administration still wont deliver. Trump might start a war with Iran to distract himself from Impeachment. And the blitzkrieg assault on the planet continues apace: with Trump opening new attacks on (another) one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws: the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

And that’s just the part of the list from the last two weeks; The first of the 2020s — a decade in which we need radical action to stop the climate crisis on a scale rarely seen in the human endeavor.

But there’s good news too: 88 people chipped in just under $1000 to support this project in December – so we’ve got the funds we need to keep writing and emailing you. New coalitions are launching and re-launching with exciting plans for a 72 hour climate strike in April to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the new generation of climate leaders. And lawsuits are advancing to honor treaty rights and stop Keystone XL, as well as to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from Crossing the Appalachian trail, and much more. Not to mention the 2020 election – with primaries starting in a few weeks.

A famous phrase notes that the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation; And the opposite of fear isn’t courage, it’s action. So with the pre-amble that this is very much a ‘going gets tough’ moment, here’s three key themes of our plans to get going, creating and taking action in 2020:

Redefine radical

One of the big lessons of the last three years is that things that seemed radical now have to become common. Twenty years ago we had time for incremental solutions to the climate crisis – driving less or recycling were appropriate actions for people to take when we ‘only’ needed to cut emissions by 3% a year. Now we need to cut them 15% a year, every year and those actions, any individual action really, just aren’t enough.

What we need now are big changes in big systems – electrify everything, de-carbonize the shipping industry, put millions of people to work building the new energy economy. And we absolutely have to stop building and investing in the fossil fuel projects that are literally killing us all – which means we need to be ready to put our bodies, our lives, and our collective will in the way.

As Rebecca Solnit said in a beautiful essay on the first day of this decade:

I have seen change that was unimaginable until it happened and then became so ordinary-seeming a part of everyday life that people forgot there was a struggle, forgot there was a transformation, forgot how we got here, forgot that we are living in the once-unimaginable. I believe that there are many unimaginables in this moment that will become, must become ordinary, including the end of the era of fossil fuel. Almost no one seems to know that 20 years ago, we literally did not have the solution, because wind and solar were ineffectual and expensive; we have had an energy revolution that now makes it possible to make the transition we need, and it’s not unimaginable now—just unimagined because it’s so overlooked.

https://lithub.com/letter-to-a-young-climate-activist-on-the-first-day-of-the-new-decade/

We’ll try and embody this goal in 2020 by focussing on more & more escalated actions to stop fossil fuels. We’ll still have online petitions for you to sign, from time to time, but we’ll try and pair each and every one with a specific, in-person delivery event. Where possible we’ll also try and have a way for you to participate no matter what zip code you live in. And at big moments like the April climate strikes we’ll focus our attention on the second day of action –

Creation & social media

Another key lesson from the last few years is not to underestimate the value and role of art and creativity in our work, and also the importance of co-creation: of building things together. There’s just something so authentic and powerful about painting a banner together, singing a song together, assembling the lock box together. You’re not just talking about community, you’re literally making it.

By contrast, at the same time we’ve been re-learning the value of creating together, we’ve seen the utter failure of social media as a space for community building. The last few years took us from Tahrir square and digitally-powered movements that toppled dictators, to the Trump administration and the era of paid disinformation as a Facebook ad policy.

As Zeynep Tufekci said in this must-read article from last year:

What is to be done? There are no easy answers. More important, there are no purely digital answers. …The way forward is not to cultivate nostalgia for the old-world information gatekeepers or for the idealism of the Arab Spring. It’s to figure out how our institutions, our checks and balances, and our societal safeguards should function in the 21st century—not just for digital technologies but for politics and the economy in general. This responsibility isn’t on Russia, or solely on Facebook or Google or Twitter. It’s on us.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611806/how-social-media-took-us-from-tahrir-square-to-donald-trump/

That article was gutting for me because I spent the last 10 years trying to use tech tools to expand democracy and movement building in the US. The original idea of 198 methods was to update Gene Sharp’s anti-fascist methodology to use modern, digital tools like social media.

But we’re going to try and use Tufekci’s advice in 2020 by building the communities we need, not idealizing the ones we could have had. In particular we’re committing to building a curriculum of direct action training tools online. After 2 years of ignoring Facebook and other big social platforms, we’re also going to take another shot at using it to create authentic, multi-directional conversation through live video chats and Instagram stories. And of course we’ll keep, texting, emailing and continuing to reply to all the messages you write (eventually, and not counting the trolls).

Your vote matters, but it’s not enough

Last thought, since this is a very consequential election year, is about the 2020 election. Like social media, we’re forced to admit that we don’t live in the world we want, or have the things we need. But we also see that we can create them.

Specifically, we’re forced to confront these two facts:

  1. Defeating Trump and his corrupt, climate-wrecking administration in 2020 is incredibly important. No single thing will make as much of an impact on the climate as removing this regime from power.
  2. Our election system is deeply broken: Trump won without the popular vote, and millions of our fellow citizens are already disenfranchised by bogus redistricting, an arrest or incarceration record, and lots of other racist features of our system.

We have to vote. Everyone we know has to vote. And we have to spend time and resources (as best we’re allowed as a non-profit group) making sure people are registered, informed, and able to exercise their right to vote. But that simply can’t be the sum of our work.

No politician can be elected to save us. We have to save ourselves.

Too many things need to happen while the campaign is ongoing – from fighting Trump’s NEPA rollback, to pressing Congress and the Courts to act and hold Trump’s corrupt regime accountable, to building intentional and creative communities of action to stop pipelines.

And no matter who is elected at the end of this year, we need to keep pushing – because we only have this one last decade to make big changes in every part of our society. To change everything, it will take all of us, pushing everywhere.

So that’s our plan for 2020 in a nutshell: take radical action that reflects the urgency of the climate crisis; begin again with the project of using digital tools to build creative, connected action with people; And pay attention to the 2020 election and politics, without getting consumed or distracted by it.