350 CHICAGO Newsletter
Your bi-weekly newsletter for all things climate-related
September 29th, 2020
Good morning friends and climate advocates,
Major movements in the political realm over the next few weeks will determine the course of the U.S. response on climate action. Meanwhile, China has announced plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. And a new policy paper outlines how the U.S. can become a global leader in energy innovation.
- The 350 Chicago Team
Elections Matter: So Much to Report
A child observes wildfires raging in the distance.
Source: Robert Gauthier/ LA Times / Getty Images
Just five weeks until the election, and there are many election-related topics to cover...
The importance of this election was emphasized by 350.org founder Bill McKibben when he said “Vote Like the Future of Humanity Depends On It - Because It Does.” Leave it to Bill to get right at the essence of things.
Joe Biden continued to put climate change at the center of his campaign during his recent speech addressing the California wildfires, and last week he received endorsements from both 350 Action and Friends of the Earth Action.
The first presidential debate is tonight. Despite pleas from a coalition of 45 different environmental organizations and from 68 members of the House Democratic caucus, debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News failed to include climate in his planned list of topics for questions.
The loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is heart-breaking on many levels, including for those pushing climate justice issues. A blog post from the Rocky Mountain Institute nicely summarizes some key lessons RBG leaves behind for those of us in the climate fight. Bill McKibben describes how this ties in with the fight to move away from an economy based on fossil fuel energy, including the importance of several key Senate races.
The House just passed a massive clean energy bill, but Trump has indicated a likely veto. Following a White House order, the EPA has postponed a training program on environmental justice for communities of color. And the Rhodium Group has a new report that totals up the damage from all of Trump’s environmental rollbacks: “We find that Trump’s major climate policy rollbacks have the potential to add 1.8 gigatons of CO2-equivalent to the atmosphere by 2035. This cumulative impact is equivalent to nearly one-third of all US emissions in 2019.”
With the endorsement of Biden from 350 Action and other environmental organizations, you may be wondering how you too can provide pro-climate support to the campaign effort. Here's one option: a letter writing campaign sponsored by The Sierra Club.
China’s Ambitious New Climate Goal
Source: IEA, "CO2 Emissions From Fuel Combustion: Overview"
China is currently the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, at about one third of global carbon emissions. So when China announced last week that it plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, it provoked a host of reactions from the global climate community, ranging from excitement to skepticism to curiosity.
President Xi Jinping made the announcement before the UN General Assembly, adding that China plans to reach peak carbon before 2030. Details on how the nation will achieve its goals are still lacking, but since China, as a signer of the Paris Accord, is required to provide an update on its plans by the end of the year, more information should be forthcoming.
Todd Stern, former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change under the Obama administration, hopes that a Biden win in November could lead to renewed cooperation between the United States and China on climate change mitigation; the two nations had collaborated during Obama’s tenure as president, but this cooperation has been lost under Trump.
While reaching carbon neutrality will be expensive, China’s economy stands to benefit from the transition in the long run, and these benefits could spill over to other countries (although not always in good ways—for example, more electric vehicles in China could mean lower oil prices around the world.) And China’s announcement leaves many questions unanswered, such as whether their net zero target includes greenhouse gases other than CO2 and whether this means China will do away with their massive coal infrastructure.
Green Tech: A New Energy Economy
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
From gulf coast hurricanes to west coast wildfires, it is increasingly apparent no region is safe from the effects of global warming, and each disaster seems more costly than the last. While these events dominate news feeds across the globe, academics and scientists alike hope the winner of the 2020 election will take the lead on the cross-sector energy investment required to mitigate the risk of irreversible climate catastrophe.
In a recently published policy paper, researchers from the Colombia University constructed a detailed "how-to" guide for governmental investment in green tech across a number of industries. To achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and keep global warming under 1.5°F by the end of the century, the paper encourages incoming legislators to make progressive energy policy a top priority. The authors make a case for the United States to become a global leader in energy innovation by tripling the current annual investment in green tech to $50 billion by 2025. They also emphasize the potential for an energy revolution and state "The global market for clean energy products and services is exploding."
As renewables become cheaper and an increasing number of countries adopt carbon neutral policies, the notion of a global shift towards sustainable energy appears undeniable. And with the economic viability of coal continuing to plummet and companies like BP acknowledging the glory days of oil consumption have passed, the after-COVID-times energy economy seems greener than ever.
Additional Reads & Resources
Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal – Noam Chomsky, Robert Pollin - Penguin Random House
Noam Chomsky’s Green New Deal - A chat about his new book with co-author Robert Pollin – Vox
Covering Climate Now - a global journalism initiative committed to more and better coverage of the defining story of our time – Covering Climate Now
Hurricane Sally, mutant sloth – Heated
Oil Industry’s Shift to Plastics in Question as Report Warns $400 Billion in Stranded Assets – DeSmog
Do we need to stop eating meat and dairy to tackle climate change? – CarbonBrief
World’s richest 1% cause double CO2 emissions of poorest 50%, says Oxfam – The Guardian
12 major cities pledge fossil fuel divestment – Utility Dive
Actions You Can Take Today
Learn About the Fair Tax System
In November, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to choose a Fair Tax system. What does the Fair Tax mean for Illinois? Briefly:
(1) Tax relief for everyone earning under $250,000
(2) The wealthy begin to pay their fair share
(3) Fair funding and investment in our communities
Visit the Vote Yes for Fairness site for more details on the Fair Tax, and be sure to attend one of their weekly virtual presentations where you can ask questions and learn more.
Check Out the Power Up Series
Tune into any or all segments of this four-part series during which the Ready for 100 Chicago Collective will be discussing Chicago's clean energy future and how it will incorporate long-term jobs, better health, electric transportation, and saving money. Learn from community leaders, tech experts, and other participants about what this transition can look like for our city and share your thoughts and ideas, too.
Brought to you by 350 Chicago, the Sierra Club, and fellow members of of the Ready for 100 Chicago Collective.
Support the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA)
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!
Take action against Target and Exchange 55
Join us in supporting the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in the fight against Hilco’s Exchange 55 project.
Use this form to send a message to Target Corporation executives and to local reps in opposition to Target's lease. Your participation in this action is a simple yet powerful one in the movement for environmental justice.
Upcoming 350 Chicago Meetings & Other Events
**Please note that most meetings are currently being conducted online, and any physical in-person meetings are subject to change due to COVID-19. **
SEPT 8TH - OCT 30TH
Third Coast Disrupted: Artists + Scientists on Climate
Third Coast Disrupted is a Chicago area collaborative effort that started with a convergence of cutting-edge artists and scientists, gathering and talking for a year to explore climate change impacts and solutions. Their conversations inspired artworks, special programs, and even more dialogue, building momentum and forging action. Visit the Third Coast Disrupted site for details on viewing the art exhibition and joining in the dialogue during these upcoming online presentations:
SEP 16TH 7PM CT - Katharine Hayhoe: Connecting Global Change to Local Impacts & Solutions
SEP 17TH 8AM CT - The Art of Communicating Climate: A Conversation
OCT 1ST 6:30PM CT - Water, Water Everywhere: First-Person Flooding, Impact & Action
OCT 8TH 6:30PM CT - Avian Effects: Climate Change and Birds
OCT 22ND 6:30PM CT - Getting Around Carbon: New Looks at Transportation Options
OCT 3RD, 2020 (Saturday) 10:00 - 11:30pm CT
350 Chicago VIRTUAL Monthly Meeting hosting Aaron Huges of Justseeds
OCT 5TH, 2020 (Monday) 6:00 - 8:00pm CT
Ready for 100 Chicago Collective POWER UP Series Session #4 - Electric Transportation and Clean Energy
OCT 13TH, 2020 (Tuesday) 6:00 - 7:00pm CT
Interested in getting involved with our research efforts? We have plenty of tasks for new volunteers to help with our #DivestChi campaign and other projects. Join us! This meeting will be hosted via Google Hangouts. Contact committee lead Alex McLeese for meeting information.
350 Education Committee
Interested in getting involved in the Education committee? Contact committee lead Melissa Brice for more details.