A Call for Rapid and Just Climate Action in Washington State and Beyond

Article I: Emergency Declaration

We must limit global warming to 1.5ºC. There is less than a 1% chance of achieving this. There is no existing institution or government that is working to achieve this other than you, me, and us.

We the undersigned people of color, native, and indigenous people of the Coast Salish territories, Washingtonians, Washington-based organizations and institutions, and national organizations operating in Washington State hereby declare a climate emergency and call upon fellow residents, communities, businesses, organizations, and local governments throughout the state of Washington to fundamentally transition and transform our economy and our society into one that is just and sustainable within 10-years. We shall call this work Rapid and Just Climate Action.

WHEREAS

the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in October 2018​[1]​ describing ways to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. Eric Holthaus explains that beyond this limit, “the planet starts to really go haywire,” and that “hitting [this] goal would require a radical rethink in almost every aspect of society. But the report finds that not meeting the goal would upend life as we know it, too.”​[2]

MEANWHILE

the same report remains a conservative and inaccurate picture of reality. It perpetuates a form of climate denial that bargains with and stretches the truth leading to more inaction. It creates a false sense that we still have a chance of parking global warming at 1.5ºC by cutting emissions in half by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050 using aggressive carbon sequestration technologies. These have been ineffective, expensive, and dubious in practice e.g., sequestered carbon dioxide has been used in fracking wells to extract more fossil fuels, which leads to more emissions.

WHEREAS

The MCC Carbon Clock that shows how long we have left in our so-called carbon budget to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, officially ran out of time on September 8, 2018 based on a medium estimate of the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases.​[3]

MEANWHILE

that same institute has since compromised its evaluation by revising its estimate based on the IPCC 1.5 report. It arbitrarily added 440 gigatons of CO2 to the so-called carbon budget for limiting global warming to 1.5ºC by downgrading our chances of survival from 50% to 33% in order to disingenuously say that we still have nearly nine years more of present-level emissions available when we know that is not true.

WHEREAS

global average temperatures are now 1.1ºC above pre-industrial average, and for each additional half degree of warming the number and severity of climate impacts doubles. This means that 1.5ºC will double the impacts we are already experiencing, 2.0ºC would quadruple them, eight-fold at 2.5ºC, sixteen-fold at 3.0ºC, and so on.

MEANWHILE

“leading scientists recently published a study warning a domino effect of climate events could easily move Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state, making any efforts to reduce emissions increasingly futile. Their paper combines the consequences of 10 climate change processes (methane release in the Arctic, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, and the loss of coral reefs as a few examples), as each of these is a feedback loop that could amplify the other nine.”​[4]

WHEREAS

promises made as part of the Paris climate agreement would lead to about 3.0ºC of warming by 2100 and the Trump administration recently released an analysis that 4.0ºC of warming would occur if the neo-colonial world continues to take no action.​[5]

MEANWHILE

the Paris accord attempts to convince us that world governments wish to limit warming to 1.5ºC, but according to statistical studies, we only have a 1% chance of actually succeeding.​[6]

MEANWHILE

the fossil fuel industry continues to pay no taxes, continues to pollute the water, land, and air, and seize land from indigenous peoples and people of color. It continues to target indigenous women and women of color with rape culture, and instigate communal violence, while making record profits.

WHEREAS

scientists have warned that a path toward a “hothouse” state, “would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial [period] in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene.”​[7]

MEANWHILE

Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970​[8]​ and plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’​[9]​. In 2015, scientists declared that the planet is in mass extinction.​[10]

MEANWHILE

there is definitive evidence that climate change has been largely caused by only 90 corporations overwhelmingly owned and controlled by white and Western men.​[11]

MEANWHILE

indigenous peoples, people of color, women, queer and trans people, youth, and people on the frontlines continue put their bodies in the way of fossil fuel extraction to protect life as we know it.

WHEREAS

the International Energy Agency in 2011 said we must stop investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure by 2017 to have a chance of limiting warming to 2.0ºC.​[12]

MEANWHILE

since the signing of the Paris accord in 2015, banks in the United States alone increased their investments in fossil fuel infrastructure tenfold from $59B to $580B.​[13]

THEREFORE

there is no such thing as locking in “intermediate warming” at temperatures over 2.0ºC.

THEREFORE

We now must do something that we’ve only done once before (i.e., World War II). We must now create an entirely new system whose sole function is to protect and preserve life on Earth against the tyranny of the fossil fuel empire, and simultaneously we must dismantle the old system that protects the fossil fuel empire. Existing institutions have failed us and will continue to fail us. We must create new institutions that disrupt and innovate. Older institutions must be hospiced​[14]​ and shut down. Explicit plans for this transition must be made in any case.

THEREFORE

In creating new institutions, we must be careful not to perpetuate the patterns of the old institutions that failed us. In order to successfully do this, we must use principles of organizing for rapid and just climate action (outlined in Article II of this document). These radical principles disrupt the systems of oppression. Without them, it is not possible to create a system that will protect life.​[15}

Article II: Principles of Organizing

Forefront in our motivation is to protect life on this planet. How and whether we work together to do so will determine our success. Therefore, we shall work with the following principles:

Justice

  • We will practice anti-patriarchy, anti-racism, de-colonization, and Just Transition in order to recenter humanity, dismantle capitalism, and build a living economy.
  • We will acknowledge our privileges, and apply them in service of the movement.
  • We will stand up to, dismantle, and reconsider our access to power.
  • We will confront our own fragility—we will take time for feedback to improve how we show up, reflect, and rest.
  • We will do inner work to be able to share our experiences with each other truthfully, in order to have trusting relationships.

Showing Up

  • We will show up with urgency and radicalism, including engaging in nonviolent direct action to disrupt systems of oppression.
  • We will find joy in taking action and have fun working together in community, even though the work is serious and challenging.
  • We will meet people’s needs and include everyone in the movement regardless of their level of ability, and achieve this by having roles that explicitly create accessibility.
  • We will literally reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon dioxide.
  • We acknowledge the need for and role of community organizers, and will work to support and uplift them.
  • We will acknowledge that we are much more than our bodies. In order to have a just movement, we must have a spiritual movement.
  • We will show up as whole people to treat ourselves and each other as humans. People need support to be able to show up e.g., eat food, drink water, take rest, have shelter, and have access to transportation. Anytime we must leave a part of ourselves or anyone out of a conversation or the movement, we are acting from and perpetuating the systems of oppression.

Accountability

  • We will center the people most impacted in our decision-making, including but not limited to place-based communities, in order to acknowledge history and prioritize historic grassroots and community-based leadership.
  • We will apply and practice transformative justice principles to hold ourselves and each other accountable.
  • We will acknowledge feelings, actively find and give space for healing and grief work, hold each other’s humanity, and cultivate compassion.
  • We will uphold progressive stack in visible and transparent ways e.g., by following the lead of, being accountable to, and prioritizing the needs of—and lifting up the voices of—historically marginalized people (indigenous and native people, women of color, people of color, femme, queer and trans, youth, disabled people).
  • We will specifically center youth organizing, providing mentoring when appropriate.
  • We will seek to create safety for everyone, particularly those who are marginalized. We will not compromise the safety of marginalized people to protect the safety of those with privilege.

Strategy

  • We will take action that builds power within communities, centers local and placed-based priorities, and creates a regenerative economy e.g., by using Just Transition Framework to change the way decisions are made to:
  1. Shift economic control to [local] communities
  2. Democratize wealth and the workplace
  3. Advance ecological restoration
  4. Drive racial justice and social equity
  5. Relocalize most production and consumption
  6. Retain and restore cultures and traditions
  • We will prioritize work on Just Transition, community organizing, public education, and storytelling over climate science, policy advocacy, or clean energy technology.
  • We will educate ourselves in and follow climate justice principles.
  • We will oppose false technical solutions such as geoengineering, new sources of hydropower, fracked gas as a “bridge fuel,” and new nuclear fission reactors, and false capitalist solutions such as carbon offsets, revenue neutral carbon taxes, and cap and trade.
  • We will confront internalized climate denial within the climate justice community and within ourselves, which historically and continually causes inaction and inadequate incrementalism. We will not waste time confronting the climate denial industrial complex.

Innovation

  • We will co-create a rapid and just climate action pattern language that focuses on actual action at every level including household, neighborhood, community, city, county, etc. and by defining action categories, case studies, models, solutions, visions, goals, etc.
  • We will employ Agile methodology to prioritize action, build practices in collaboration, and guarantee ongoing success within the capacities of each group.
  • We will make the most of every opportunity to meet and gather by using liberated facilitation techniques that do not perpetuate the current patriarchal and capitalist standards.
  • We will use the best available tools to manage our work to be effective, while consciously avoiding complicity in oppressive nonprofit industrial complex tactics.

Solidarity

  • We will be in service of the movement by being in solidarity with social justice movements, and we will organize to address intersecting issues at the same time.
  • We will be in relationship with the climate justice movement at all scales e.g., locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
  • We will ensure affinity groups in which we participate agree on practices and develop working agreements.
  • We will stand in solidarity with, network with, and hold accountable other statements, declarations, and movements when needed.
  • We will acknowledge the struggles of communities we are as yet not aware of, and we are willing to learn and grow with them.

Endorsements

We the undersigned pledge to heed the emergency call for action, adhere to these principles, and work together to support the movement to achieve a rapid and just transition. We call on others to join in working with us by also endorsing this document.

Credits

This work was developed by Derek Hoshiko in collaboration with community organizers, authors, and editors listed here: Zarna Joshi and Kamal Patel. To find out more and to support his ongoing work visit forthepeople.earth/derek.

Version 0.1 dated April 5, 2019. Declaration and principles drafting led by Derek Hoshiko, For the People Organizer. This is a living document. New versions are created periodically to refine language, develop concepts, and evolve to the changing needs of the movement. New versions are being developed with the participation and consent of authors, editors, endorsers, and partners like you.

Notes


[1] IPCC, Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, ​https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/​.

[2] Eric Holthaus, “With the world on the line, scientists outline the paths to survival,” ​Grist ​ , October 4, 2018, https://grist.org/article/with-the-world-on-the-line-scientists-outline-the-paths-to-survival/​.

[3] Richard Roberts, “A 6-point plan for building a new carbon economy,” ​Fast Company ​ , September 10, 2018, https://www.fastcompany.com/90233607/a-6-point-plan-for-building-a-new-carbon-economy​.

[4] Dahr Jamail, “Sixth Mass Extinction Ushers In Record-Breaking Wildfires and Heat,” ​Truthout ​ , August 20, 2018, https://truthout.org/articles/sixth-mass-extinction-ushers-in-record-breaking-wildfires-and-heat/​.

[5] Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say,” ​The Washington Post ​ , October 7, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/energy-environment/2018/10/08/world-has-only-years-get-climate-change-under-control-un-s cientists-say/?utm_term=.1519ab64ec99​.

[6] Oliver Milman, “Planet has just 5% chance of reaching Paris climate goal, study says,” ​The Guardian ​ , July 31, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/31/paris-climate-deal-2c-warming-study​.

[7] Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, et al., ​Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene ​ , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 14, 2018, ​https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252​.

[8] Damian Carrington, “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds,” ​The Guardian ​ , October 29, 2018, ​https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/humanity-wiped-out-animals-since-1970-major-report-finds​.

[9] Damian Carrington, “Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’,” ​The Guardian ​ , February 10, 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature​.

[10] Jeremy Hance, “How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction,” ​The Guardian ​ , October 20, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2015/oct/20/the-four-horsemen-of-the-sixth-mass-extinction​.

[11] Douglas Starr, “Just 90 companies are to blame for most climate change, this ‘carbon accountant’ says.” ​Science ​ , August 25, 2016, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/just-90-companies-are-blame-most-climate-change-carbon-accountant-says​

[12] “The world is locking itself into an unsustainable energy future which would have far-reaching consequences, IEA warns in its latest World Energy Outlook,” ​International Energy Agency ​ , November 9, 2011, https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2011/november/the-world-is-locking-itself-into-an-unsustainable-energy-future.html​.

[13] ​Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2019 ​ , ​Rainforest Action Network ​ , March 20, 2019 https://www.ran.org/bankingonclimatechange2019/​, Full report https://www.ran.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Banking_on_Climate_Change_2019_vFINAL.pdf​ (PDF).

[14] See also “Theory of Change,” ​Berkana Institute ​ , ​https://berkana.org/about/our-theory-of-change​.

[15] Jane Morton said, “Moving to emergency mode – effective and urgent action with a single focus engaging our whole beings,” in “Jane Morton: Don’t mention the emergency,” ​YouTube ​ , February 19, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBGHTRx6xAU​.

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