2018 in review, from The Climate Mobilization

Game, Changed: 2018 in Review

Historians will say that 2018 is when the Climate Emergency Movement began in earnest. 2019 will be the year that the movement breaks through and Climate Mobilization becomes the mainstream position.

Our efforts to “move the movement” have proven enormously successful. We began 2018 as virtually the only organization in the United States advocating a 10-year transition to zero emissions plus drawdown of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, as we have since our founding in 2014. We end 2018 as part of a rich and thriving social movement ecosystem, advocating for these goals at emergency speed. After years of fighting uphill, this is a breakthrough.

The gradualist paradigm has been smashed. Together, we have changed the game. 

Game changer 1: Congressional support with a movement behind it!

Prior to her primary victory, Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez signed our Pledge to Mobilize [1], and was endorsed by The Climate Mobilization NYC. In taking our pledge, she committed to “organize with others to spread the truth of the climate crisis and build the power necessary to start the Climate Mobilization.” She has exceeded our wildest expectations in delivering on that commitment! In her recent headline-grabbing actions, even before being sworn in, she has embraced the concept of economy and society wide mobilization and made it her key platform.

For us that World War II-style economic mobilization includes very ambitious policies like a federal jobs guarantee and switching to a 100-percent renewable energy economy within ten years.

—Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, November 20, 2018 [2]

Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” is closely aligned with The Climate Mobilization’s Victory Plan [3] — and has been shaped in part through our conversations with the Justice Democrats and her advisors over the past two years. [4]

Watch a short clip of Ocasio-Cortez addressing the need for a WWII-style economic mobilization by clicking here.

The Green New Deal advocates a 10-year transition to:

  • 100% renewable energy;
  • the full decarbonization of industry, transportation, and agriculture;
  • commitment to drawing down excess greenhouse gases; and
  • a job guarantee in support of this transition! [5]

This proposal is based on the truth of the Climate Emergency. For the first time, national policymakers have stepped forward with a plan that is actually in line with the changes necessary for restoring a safe climate and a just transition.

Ocasio-Cortez’s visionary leadership is a seismic shift! An upwelling of vibrant and energetic people — intergenerational, of all identities and backgrounds — are demanding a solution that offers the speed and scale that could actually protect humanity and the natural world. Already dozens of major organizations and at least 18  Members of Congress, including Civil Rights hero John Lewis, have signed onto Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign for a Green New Deal. We are doing everything we can to mobilize our members and networks to help get a Green New Deal committee established in Congress.

Furthermore, we are thrilled that a new think tank supporting Ocasio-Cortez, the New Consensus Network, is planning to develop a proposal for a national “Office of Climate Mobilization” that would serve as a “hub for planning and administering an economic mobilization to address the threat of climate change.” [6]

This is unprecedented. And we are so proud to be a part of it.

Game Changer 2: Cities Declaring Climate Emergency & Committing to Climate Mobilization

In 2018 our City by City organizing broke through in California. Following the lead of Los Angeles, which kicked off its campaign for Climate Mobilization in 2017, Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, and Santa Cruz declared Climate Emergency and committed to emergency mobilization and rapid just transition. These declarations and commitments to regional cooperation have galvanized local coalitions in the Bay Area, across California, and across the country. It’s become a national and international campaign at this point: Hoboken, New Jersey and Montgomery County Maryland, as well as three Australian Cities and at least two in the United Kingdom have all declared Climate Emergency and committed to restoring a safe climate at emergency speed. [7,8]

In our work with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, The Leap, and a coalition of leading environmental justice organizations called Leap L.A., we are very close to creating the nation’s first ever Climate Emergency Mobilization Department, which will be tasked with implementing the sweeping changes necessary to race to zero emissions and beyond. Already we have succeeded in persuading the City Council to study the creation of the department and to earmark $500,000 in seed money toward the department.

TCM has emerged as a central force uniting elected officials, grassroots coalitions, and technical experts to get the climate mobilization started right away. As part of our City by City campaigning, local governments are enlisted as champions for emergency Climate Mobilization. They are spreading the emergency Climate Mobilization paradigm to other cities, and to the state and national level. Berkeley’s Vice Mayor Cheryl Davila convened the first-ever Climate Emergency Town Hall, bringing together leaders from the greater Bay Area to begin collaborating for regional Climate Mobilization.

All of this earned Climate Mobilization some fantastic press this year from Inside Philanthropy, Yale Climate Connections, and from other outlets highlighting our various impacts. [9,10]

Game Changer 3: Climate Emergency Civil Resistance

Extinction Rebellion’s efforts in London have inspired a global movement of escalating non-violent civil disobedience to force emergency climate action. Extinction Rebellion (XR) has taken on the bulk of the The Climate Mobilization’s demands, and are calling for governments to declare Climate Emergency and communicate the scope of this emergency with the public. They are demanding policies to reach zero emissions and reduce overall consumption by 2025 and that these efforts be overseen by a citizens assembly to ensure that the voice of the people is forefront throughout. [11]

As emergency climate action leader (and our advisor) Paul Gilding puts it:

Extinction Rebellion proposes something quite different. They plan civil disobedience blockades at scale – and if they get sufficient support, to shut down cities. To stop the world and make us think. It’s kind of Occupy Wall Street meets the Arab Spring and Tahrir Square, but armed with the world’s top science and clear, practical, and actionable solutions.

TCM has had the honor of working with XR on international expansion — and developing their operating systems to help them scale. Our executive director Margaret even got to occupy some bridges with them on Rebellion Day 1! You can watch a recorded livestream from the ground on “Rebellion Day” to get a sense of the energy behind this effort. [12]

The ‘great dying’: rapid warming caused largest extinction event ever, report says (Oliver Milman, The Guardian) Many outlets cover a new study published in Science which shows that, according to the Guardian, “rapid global warming caused the largest extinction event in the Earth’s history, which wiped out the vast majority of marine and terrestrial animals on the planet”. The newspaper adds: “The mass extinction, known as the ‘great dying’, occurred around 252m years ago and marked the end of the Permian geologic period. The study of sediments and fossilised creatures show the event was the single greatest calamity ever to befall life on Earth, eclipsing even the extinction of the dinosaurs 65m years ago. Up to 96% of all marine species perished while more than two-thirds of terrestrial species disappeared. The cataclysm was so severe it wiped out most of the planet’s trees, insects, plants, lizards and even microbes.” The scientists says the world is currently “about a 10th of the way to the Permian”. One of the authors, Stanford University’s Jonathan Payne, is reported as saying: “It does terrify me to think we are on a trajectory similar to the Permian because we really don’t want to be on that trajectory…It doesn’t look like we will warm by around 10C and we haven’t lost that amount of biodiversity yet. But even getting halfway there would be something to be very concerned about. The magnitude of change we are currently experiencing is fairly large.” The Atlantic, MailOnline, Associated Press and the Sun are among the many other publications covering the study.

It’s time to face the inescapable truth: We’re running out of time on climate change (Editorial, The Washington Post) “The inescapable truth: The transition from fossil fuels is essential, it is going to be hard, and the US must step up…World leaders have missed their chance to avoid the warming already here and built into the system. The Trump administration would have humanity miss its window entirely.” Elsewhere in the same paper, Chuck Schumer, a Democrat senator from New York, writes: “Now that Democrats will soon control one branch of Congress, President Trump is again signaling that infrastructure could be an area of compromise. We agree, but if the president wanted to earn Democratic support in the Senate, any infrastructure bill would have to include policies and funding that help transition our country to a clean-energy economy and mitigate the risks the US already faces from climate change. For too long, Congress has failed to act in a meaningful way to combat the threat posed by climate change…That’s why I’m sending a letter to President Trump that describes the kinds of policies Democrats expect in an infrastructure bill. For example, we should make massive investments in renewable-energy infrastructure, especially in exciting new technologies such as battery storage.”