In solidarity with BLM + the rise of renewable energy

350 CHICAGO Newsletter

Your bi-weekly newsletter for all things climate-related

June 9, 2020

Good morning 350 Chicago,

On June 2nd, we issued a statement standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against racial inequality and injustice. Recent events have brought national focus to the painful truth that institutional racism is still very much alive in the U.S. The senseless acts of violence which took the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many other black men and women show just how much work there is to be done to challenge systemic racism, ensure accountability, and dismantle racist justice systems.

The underlying message behind the climate movement is about justice and equality, the same pillars that support the fight for racial justice. We as an organization commit to listening and amplifying the voices of front line communities in the fight against climate change, as well as those disproportionately affected by COVID-19, police violence, and other forms of inequality. We cannot create a sustainable and climate-conscious world without addressing the harm and violence that comes from systematic racism and inequality towards black and minority communities.

We discussed more in depth how we can better become allies to the black community and communities of color during our monthly meeting this past Saturday. If you weren't able to make it, you can watch the Zoom recording here. You can also check out our full statement for a few suggestions for how to take action for racial equality and justice.

In solidarity,

- The 350 Chicago Team

350 Chicago – Board of Directors 2020 deadline is coming up!

350 Chicago is seeking interested individuals to help our organization grow by serving on the board of directors. If you are passionate about climate change and helping Chicago transition to a green economy, review the role description and apply by June 14th.

Support the Illinois CEJA (Clean Energy Jobs Act)

Help pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act and spark our clean energy recovery by contacting your lawmakers. Simply enter your information into this form, and your message will automatically be sent to your state legislators and Governor Pritzker.

350 Chicago along with coalition partners at the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition are working to get all 177 legislators in the Illinois General Assembly to support this important bill.

Thank you for pitching in!

350 Chicago World Environment Day Fundraiser has been postponed indefinitely

Due to recent events, we have decided to indefinitely postpone our World Environment Day fundraiser and ask that you redirect your contributions to bail bond funds, the George Floyd Memorial Fund, My Block, My Hood, My City, or any of the numerous other organizations working to enact meaningful change by dismantling systemic racism or supporting communities of color.

- The 350 Chicago Fundraising Committee

Contact Sylvia Panek and Larry Coble for more information.

The Rise of Renewable Energy

This year will witness the largest-ever drop of investment and consumer spending globally, across all major sectors. With the current coronavirus pandemic, the shutdown of fossil-fuel power plants continues to accelerate, according to reports by the International Energy Agency (IEA). As coal-fired plants remain uneconomical and the cost of solar power cascades (it is 80% cheaper to build large-scale solar projects now than in 2010), many energy companies are re-evaluating and implementing strategies to capitalize on promising trends.

Alliant Energy is filing applications with the Public Service Commission to purchase six solar projects across Wisconsin. The $900 million capital outlay would make Alliant the largest solar operator in the state. This comes around the same time that the company also announced plans to retire its 380 MW coal-fired unit by 2022, following the retirement of two similar coal units in 2015 and 2018.

As these options become more economical, many energy companies are following suit. Southern Company announced its plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 as it paces ahead of its midway climate commitment to reduce operational emissions by 50% below 2007 levels by 2030.

Joe Biden has a chance to make history on climate change. All he has to do is embrace the consensus that’s waiting for him.
Source: Zac Freeland/Vox; Getty Images

Elections matter: Unity on the Left?

This newsletter segment looks at climate issues within the framework of the upcoming election, but at this particular time, it is critical to remember that elections matter because of so many other important issues, as well. Social justice and inequality are right at the top, and these issues are also part of the climate movement. Solidarity matters.

We want to focus attention this week on important reporting from David Roberts at Vox. He has written two must-read pieces that describe recent activity among a broad range of left-of-center climate leaders. These discussions are an attempt to formulate a common core understanding of climate policy for the Biden campaign and other Democratic candidates. We encourage you to read these in full, but here is a brief highlight.

The first (and longer) piece goes deep on the discussions, and Roberts summarizes the resulting policy framework with these words:

Over the past few weeks, I have talked to more than a dozen people involved in this extraordinary burst of policy discussion and development. Just about every one of them made a point of commenting on the degree of comity and good faith shown thus far, even across some traditionally tense factional lines…
Because policy development did not begin within a legislative process, it was not bound from the outset by compromise. Thanks in part to the Green New Deal, it began in imagination and aspiration. And it uncovered more and deeper agreement on climate policy than anyone might have predicted a few years ago. Though plenty of issues remain to be addressed, the broad left-of-center appears aligned around rapid decarbonization through stringent sector-specific standards, large-scale public investments, and a commitment to justice (“SIJ,” in my unwieldy acronym).
He then expands on each element in the “SIJ” framework, and his second piece looks at how this new “SIJ” framework might impact the 2020 election strategies for Democrats.

Will the pandemic recovery be green?

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit global economies hard, and the energy sector is no exception. The pandemic has led to a startling $400 billion slump in energy investment worldwide. Most of the decrease is in oil since fewer people are traveling. Unfortunately, wind and solar investments have also declined, which could complicate the transition to renewable energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s annual World Energy Investment report provides a more detailed picture of the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the energy sector and how to mitigate them.

With the economy in need of a bailout and the planet in need of climate solutions, can we make our recovery from the pandemic sustainable? Larry Elliott of The Guardian writes that the case for a Green New Deal is stronger in 2020 than ever before—governments are frantically spending money to undo the economic damage caused by the pandemic, and the climate-related disasters earlier this year emphasize the urgency of a sustainable recovery. For UK politicians squeamish about a national GND, Elliott proposes a trial run in a major city first.

The European Union is leading the way on a sustainable pandemic recovery, pledging to fund everything from energy-efficient homes to zero-emissions trains. It’s not all good news, though: The EU has relaxed climate change restrictions on its budget for the next three years in response to the pandemic, and critics worry that some of the recovery funds could be used to back natural gas projects. Closer to home, the Sierra Club is pushing for a stimulus plan that will inject $6 trillion into infrastructure improvement and clean energy over a 10-year period.

Upcoming 350 Chicago Meetings & Events

***Important: Please note that all meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future due to the situation around COVID-19. Please contact committee leads for information regarding remote meeting arrangements.***

6/9 Tuesday - 6.00 - 7.30pm CST
350 Chicago Research Committee Monthly Meeting
Interested in getting involved in the Research committee? Contact committee lead Alex McLeese for digital meeting details.

350 Chicago Education Committee Meeting
Interested in getting involved in the Education committee? Contact committee lead Melissa Brice for more details!

Additional Reads

  1. How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change – by Barack Obama (Medium)

  2. The Climate Justice Movement Must Oppose White Supremacy Everywhere – Sunrise Movement (Medium)

  3. U.S. critics of stay-at-home orders tied to fossil fuel funding (The Guardian)

  4. Delaying COP26 is not a reason to delay climate action (Nature)

  5. As Protests Rage over George Floyd’s Death, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice (Inside Climate News)

  6. Watch Trevor Noah's explanation of systemic racism and John Oliver's look at the history of policing.


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