Calling All Climate Warriors! How to Be a Climate Advocate
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We may not be expecting to march in the streets for climate justice in the near future, but with the recent 50th anniversary of Earth Day in mind, and less than a decade to rein in our carbon emissions, it’s important to focus on the things we can do. Even from our houses, we’re not without the tools to take action for a sustainable economy and healthy planet. Here are some ways you can be a climate activist at home.
Keep an Eye on Environmental Policy
Our government plays a significant role in the ease or difficulty of our transition to a clean energy economy, from funding and incentives to regulations that make things like solar more accessible to everyone. For example in Maine you can now go solar even if you don’t own a roof to put panels on, thanks to changes in regulations to allow community solar farms – while current net-metering policies in New Hampshire still preclude CSFs. Even if you live in a state (or a country 😉 ) that tends toward not very sustainable policy, there are still bills being put forth in the legislature dealing with these topics, from EV charging, to bag bans, to solar net metering. What can you do?
Get in touch with your representatives and ask them to support bills that support a clean energy economy. Ask the people you know to also consider if clean energy and a healthy environment is important to them, and if they can write or call their representatives as well.
Do Your Part at the Polls
Do you research on candidates at election time and make sure they support renewable energy and a clean energy economy. Vote, and encourage your friends, family, neighbors, and others around you to vote as well. While you can’t tell people who to vote for, you can share the reasons why you supporting the candidates that you do.
Don’t forget your local elections either – we’ve seen towns, cities, and states making a difference on the local level, with sustainability pledges and projects to pare down their carbon footprint. The more change we can enact locally, the more we’ll see change from higher levels as well.
Bank on Sustainability, Not Fossil Fuels
Where you spend your money makes a difference, but so does where you keep your money. The Banking on Climate Change 2020 report shows that our large banking institutions both in the US and internationally are funding fossil fuel production and climate change. If your bank won’t divest, you can divest from your bank and take your money elsewhere.
It can be difficult to find a new bank whose investments match your values, but local, member-owned credit unions are generally much less likely to have funds invested commercially – or you can look for banks specifically geared toward ethical investing. Did you know banks can be B Corps? There are already have two Certified B Corp banks in NH. Other banks participate in organizations like the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. While banks with locations in New England are few, there are nationwide online options if you are comfortable doing your banking online.
If you do end up changing banks, it’s important let them know why. Write to the bank you are leaving to let them know you are moving because you do not want your money to be used for the destruction of the planet. You can send an email, a physical letter, or even post on social media.
Lend a Hand to the Youth
It makes sense that young people are the most concerned about climate change and the future of our planet because if we do not act now, they will be the ones left to deal with the damage. Young people are organizing and making a difference. High school student Siri Pierce began by working with her sustainability club for solar on her school, and in the process launched SolarRISE Portland to campaign for sustainable solar energy for the entire district. Siri’s experience and advice is valuable for anyone trying to start a climate movement in their community, and points out that students are a force to be reckoned with – but adult help is still useful and appreciated. Volunteer help to a group of young people who are already committed to and working towards change in your community.
Support Climate Justice Organizations
By that same token, there are already plenty of groups out there working for climate justice, like 350.org, or the Sunrise Movement. You can support these groups and others like them by volunteering your time to help put on events and reach more people in your area, or you can give by donating money that will help them keep up the work they are doing to raise awareness and lobby for change.
Organize for Sustainability Locally
You may not be allowed to gather in groups, but you can still rally your community. Organize an event – like a roadside trash cleanup day that everyone can do near their own home while still social distancing. Use the power of social media for good to talk to everyone you know about why you want to protect the environment and what you’re doing about it.
If you’re trying to find a sustainability organization in your community and not finding any, maybe it’s time to take on a bigger project and start one. Take Siri’s advice and start by building a team of people in your community ready to fight for clean energy solutions, as well as reaching out to already established groups that can help you be successful. For example, Sierra Club has community organizers that can help towns commit to Ready for 100 – a campaign that, “…[asks] mayors, CEOs, religious leaders, principals, civic and community leaders, parents and students to commit to solutions that help us achieve 100% clean, renewable, and just energy across the United States by the year 2050.” If that sounds like something you want for your town, start gathering some allies and figuring out how you can get there.
In summation, we need to organize on the local level if we’re going to make the kind of changes we need to in order to halt climate damage. Fortunately there’s a lot we can do, even from our homes. So let’s take action!