Climate Justice is the work we do to confront the climate crisis. While Washington State is a small proportion of the world population and economy, there are actions we can take to show leadership in solving the climate crisis. Some of the major issues we confront are listed in the menu item “Our Work.” Recent changes in the state’s action on climate can be seen in the news items posted below. Also, follow current legislative activity that we are tracking at our Carbon Pollution Accountability page in the legislative advocacy section.
Climate change affects all of us, but its consequences are not distributed equally. Climate impacts exacerbate existing inequities in society, whether they are related to poverty, gender, race or ethnicity, ability, or other factors. The slow-onset impacts of climate change are displacing communities and having severe impacts on human rights — the right to health, food security, water and sanitation, life, religious expression, and culture, among others.
Often, grassroots, frontline communities have the best and most appropriate solutions to these challenges. At the same time, these communities receive the smallest share of funding and are sidelined by state and international decision makers.
Beginning this month, UU Climate Action Network is kicking off a restructuring of the UU Climate Action Network (UUCAN) Roundtable calls, which will be a herculean effort of coordination and onboarding for a while until we can get into the new pattern and rhythm of things. If we succeed, the impact will be enormous — so please give it a shot in good faith. Most of the state Roundtable calls will be considering the adoption of a covenant — something new to the UU Climate Action Network. Click here to see the draft language that will form the foundation of the covenanting conversation. September, we will have the first Regional UU Climate Action Roundtable. I am defaulting to a meeting by UUA region (or by country for UUs outside of the USA), however, I am very open to input about how you would like to cluster up for Regional UUCAN Roundtables. if you are interested in attending the September Regional UUCAN Roundtable call, please fill out this Doodle Poll. For further information, contact email@example.com.
Save the Date: Global Climate Strike Sept. 20-27. It’s not climate change, it’s a climate emergency. The UUA is partnering with 350.org, Extinction Rebellion (XR), Sunrise Movement and others who have answered Greta Thuberg’s call with youth from around the planet to join the Global Climate Strike with a huge kick off on Sept. 20th and various actions throughout the week. Only our governments have the power to stop the fossil-fuel economy. Leaders of this movement, who have studied social movements that have led to real change, estimate that when 3.5% of the population is willing to strike or risk arrest or participate in ongoing protest that governments will respond. Our UUA Organizing Strategy Team will be sending out a Create Climate Justice alert next week with a sign up for UUs and listings of events. If you are not already subscribed,sign up here and check Create Climate Justice.
Strikes are already planned for Burien, Kirkland and Seattle's University District, with more coming. To find nearby events and times
“I know that gutting the Endangered Species Act sounds like plan from a cartoon villain, not the work of the president of the United States,” Healey said during a call with reporters. “But unfortunately that’s what we’re dealing with today.” The goal of the overhaul is clear: to “undercut the science” and reduce the number of listed species, according to David Hayes, the executive director of New York University’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center and former deputy secretary at the Interior Department under President Barack Obama. The only reason to consider economic impacts when making ESA decisions is to “poison the well and obtain a sort of public reaction to the listing,” he said. Read more here.
Olympia climate activists from several organizations and members of the Olympia Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons are working with three powerful speakers to put together a retreat that addresses the intersectionality of climate and nuclear issues. Save the date, November 16th, 2019/More information to come. Register here.
The Sierra Club, in conjunction with the youth group Sunrise Movement, has organized national action on the Green New Deal, which has also been endorsed by the UUA (see below). Sierra Club leaders are hosting debate watching parties, where people interested in pressuring the Democratic National Committee to approve a climate debate are being recruited. Sierra Club leaders are also organizing constituent visits, with members of Congress during the August recess, to discuss the Green New Deal. The club has organized a coach-activist network which will help prepare activists understand and promote the Green New Deal. For more information, click on https://www.sierraclub.org/resist/growing-green-new-deal-mobilization
After the UUA General Assembly passed an Action of Immediate Witness endorsing the Green New Deal (see below), the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) began actions to work for passage of the Green New Deal. The UUMFE has organized climate activists by state and region and appointed coordinators for each. JUUstice Washington Climate Lead Bill McPherson will be the Washington State and Pacific West coordinator. Each month there will be Climate Roundtable Conversations via Zoom teleconferencing, organized as follows:
- August, November, February and May: State networks
- September, December, March and June: Regional networks
- October, January, April and July: National network
The Green New Deal: Online Panel Discussion Can Spark Your Congregation's Climate and Economic Justice Activism
Much has been said and written about the political aspects of the Green New Deal. The substance of the Green New Deal has not gotten as much attention. House Resolution 109, introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, lists the goals of the Green New Deal. These goals are captured into two broad categories, climate and economic. Under the economic tent are goals of the creation of millions of good, high paying jobs; providing unprecedented levels of prosperity
Great places to begin these discussions on the goals and politics of the Green New Deal are our congregations and community groups. An excellent video to facilitate the discussion is “The Climate Crisis and the Green New Deal” by the Sanders Institute. It can be found here.
The study, which was completed with support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, also notes that even though humans have only been pumping carbon into the oceans for hundreds of years rather than the thousands of years it took for volcanic eruptions and other events to bring about other extinctions, the result will likely be the same.
"Once we're over the threshold, how we got there may not matter," Rothman told MIT News. "Once you get over it, you're dealing with how the Earth works, and it goes on its own ride."
Other scientists said the study, which will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, represents a clear call for immediate action to drastically reduce the amount of carbon that is being pumped into the world's oceans. Climate action groups and grassroots movements have long called on governments to impose a moratorium on fossil fuel drilling, which pumps about a billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year.
Read more here.
A disruption of the food chain is currently occurring in the Pacific Northwest as sea level rise, pollution and ocean acidification are causing an alarming decrease in the salmon and orca populations. Climate change is not only affecting the Salish waters, but also threatening tribal ancestral lands as wildfires have unfortunately become a statewide yearly occurrence, and the recent increase of outdoor recreationalist are interfering with tribal spiritual and hunting practices.
Read more here.
Indian Country Today
by Richard Walker
Tribal nations in Washington state are facing environmental challenges ranging from protecting wildlife habitats and waterways to protecting the livelihood of Washington state residents from toxic chemicals that have been released into the environment and water for decades.
Here are seven eco-disasters affecting Washington tribes as well as efforts to improve the waters on which all inhabitants depend.
Everything interrelates: The Salish Sea Campaign
Due to a consistent decline in the number of orcas that inhabit the Salish Sea, the Lummi Nation launched the Salish Sea Campaign on June 15 at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, calling for communities of the Salish Sea to stand together to protect the Southern resident orcas from extinction.
Read more here.
Advancing Economic and Climate Justice as a Moral Issue, Building a Movement for a “Green New Deal”, September 15-17, 2019, Washington DC
Advocacy Conference on Environmental Justice, Class and Race by UUs for Just Economic Community, UU Ministry for Earth and UUSJ
"We have twelve years!" The Green New Deal has spurred debate on the need for bold actions that make big differences. Carbon pricing is being debated. 156 Million Americans have pledged to keep the Paris Climate Agreement Commitments. Jack Ma says the U.S. wasted $14 trillion in wars rather than infrastructure among other investments. Communities of color wonder why they often pay the costs first, and deepest, but rarely get to voice their concerns.
How can we as UUs be in solidarity and fellowship? Learn how climate change is an economic justice issue with intersectional dimensions of race, ethnicity and class running throughout. Let us talk about how disproportionately at risk and impacted communities tend to be coastal communities, the poor, people of color and first nations communities.
When: Sunday, Sept. 15, 11:15 AM through Tuesday, Sept. 17, 4:00 PM
Where: Washington, DC
Beginning in Portland with the Juliana v US appeals court hearing on June 4th, I have been on a speaking tour visiting UU congregations with Levi Draheim, the youngest plaintiff in the Juliana v US lawsuit and a Florida UU, and Leonard Higgins, the "valve turner" and UU Ministry for Earth Board Member. After two weeks of touring through Oregon and Washington, we made our way to Spokane, Washington, where UUMFE had a phenomenal General Assembly experience.
Read more about our journey in the following four blog posts:
Speaking Tour Update #1 - The Juliana v US hearing & rally in Portland
Speaking Tour Update #2 - A Whale of a Time in Oregon
Speaking Tour Update #3 - Winding Through Washington
Climate Justice highlights from GA 2019
UUs have been giving generously throughout this tour and at GA, and we are now just $2,330 away from reaching the $10K fundraising goal.
There are just 2 days left to reach this goal --- the campaign ends on Thursday, July 4, 10:55 pm Eastern.
Starting with the premise “the Green New Deal manifests key UU values — both “the interdependent web” and “justice, equity, and compassion”— the UUA passed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) on June 22, 2019 at the General Assembly in Spokane, Washington. Among the actions that UUA recommended:
- Network with UU state action networks, national groups like UUJEC [UUs for a Just Economic Community], UUMFE [UU Ministry for the Earth], and UUSJ [UUs for Social Justice, the DC group], or sign up at www.createclimatejustice.net.
- Participate in the Sept. 15-17, 2019, conference in Washington, DC, on a Green New Deal” (www.uujec.com/gndconference);
- Form alliances with local groups working on aspects of a Green New Deal or national supporters like The Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, The Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, We Are Still In, Citizens Climate Lobby;
- Obtain background information from groups like The Post Carbon Institute, Data for Progress, Inside Climate News, Peoples Policy Project, Oil Change International;
- Organize congregational projects that align with the Green New Deal;
- Actively support the development of federal legislation to implement the Green New Deal as envisioned in H.Res. 109.
The Puyallup Tribe received some good news on Wednesday when Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced he no longer supports the construction of a liquified natural gas plant (LNG plant) on the Puyallup River Tideflats in Tacoma. The plant, which the tribe has opposed since 2015, would produce up to a half million gallons of highly volatile liquefied natural gas per day and would store up to 8 million gallons of it in a huge tank located at the facility.
Gov. Inslee, a Democrat who announced in March he is running for president on a climate change platform, previously supported the construction of the plant. But he changed his mind and announced his reversal on the same day he signed a bill banning the use of hydraulic fracking in Washington state.
Read more here.
June 18, 2019
Four municipalities in British Columbia’s Comox Valley have agreed to declare a climate crisis, spurred in part by actions taken by the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship (CVUF).
The municipalities’ declarations followed a letter issued by the CVUF’s social and environmental justice group, which was sent to all the councils in the area. Two Unitarians, Mike Bell, and Steve Faraher-Amidon, subsequently made a presentation to the Comox Council. Another Unitarian, May Partridge, presented to the Courtenay Council and made the case for the declaration.
CVUF’s letter began by recognizing municipalities in the region for efforts they had already made at climate change mitigation and adaptation. It went on to state that further action is needed to address what is clearly a worsening situation. The letter cited deepening summer droughts, increasingly violent winter storms, and severe flooding as evidence of climate change’s impacts on the region. These examples were backed up by the recent report indicating Canada is warming at twice the global rate.
The letter went on to ask the four councils to formally declare a state of climate emergency, which “will enable the necessary planning and measures required to meet the kinds of potential disasters which may occur and to move proactively to prevent them.”
CVUF called on the municipalities to undertake a series of measures as part of the declaration, including an initial approach to plan how communities can meet extreme climate events such as storms, fires, and floods; the establishment of a standing committee on the climate emergency; and a commitment that staff will keep the community continually informed on its progress in meeting the climate emergency.
Members of the fellowship were pleased with the outcome of both presentations, with the Comox and Courtenay councils subsequently approving motions to declare a “climate crisis” (the councils’ preferred terminology). The fellowship is awaiting news on what the next steps will be.
Learn About the Climate Emergency Campaign.
The UU Young Adults for Climate Justice Network is curating a zine exploring the threads between theologies of place and climate justice, and we want YOUR art! Art is a powerful tool for change, and we will use this zine to mobilize our communities and connect our movements. Intergenerational submissions are welcome as long as young adults are involved, and submissions can be anything that can be rendered in a 2D format - words, visuals, photos, etc.
Check out the FAQ here, and find resources to get inspired here.
Please fill out this interest form to stay in the loop!
Questions? Contact Amelia Diehl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Createclimatejustice.net - make an account for you and your organization/congregation, learn and start sharing information. Become part of a prophetic, faith-based UU movement for climate justice.
The Strengthen Local Climate Commitments (SLCC) campaign provides resources and peer support for UUs to find out how their local elected leaders are doing on their climate commitments — and then to help them aspire higher so that humanity can realize a Just Transition to an ecological civilization and not exceed the 1.5°C global warming threshold.
The JUUstice Washington Board of Directors and the Social and Environmental Justice Committee of the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship have voted to to become signatories on an interfaith amicus brief to be filed on behalf of the youth in Aji P. v. State of Washington. This case has been brought by Washington youth to demand the State take action on climate change and to treat climate change as an issue that belongs within the Public Trust. It was dismissed by the lower courts and is now going through the appeals process and will be filed in either the WA Supreme Court or in the WA Court of Appeals (if the WA Supreme Court declines to hear the case). We will be encouraging and working with WA UU congregations to prepare for and join future briefs in this case. More information can be found at Our Children’s Trust.
In similar news, Juliana v. US heard arguments on June 4th before the Ninth Circuit (Federal) Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4th, 2019. In this case, Levi Draheim, an eleven year old UU from Florida, is a plaintiff. "Their complaint asserts that, through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources." Oregon Voices for Justice signed onto the amicus brief for this case. More
Backbone Campaign is honored to co-host two screenings of the highly anticipated Dammed to Extinction - in Seattle this Friday (June 7) and on Vashon Island next Tuesday (June 11).
We are also co-sponsoring two more Human Orca Murals next weekend, bringing our total of Human Murals up to 13 since Tahlequah carried her deceased baby across the Salish Sea, so we would witness what is happening to the Southern Resident pod and the dire conditions of their habitat. If you'll be in Gig Harbor or Bainbridge Island this Saturday, show up in black and stand up for the orca! Info is at the links below.
Dammed to Extinction Film Screening, June 7th, Seattle
Dammed to Extinction Film Screening, June 11th, Vashon Island
About the Film: Directed by eastern Washington native Michael Peterson, "Dammed to Extinction" chronicles the plight of the endangered Southern Resident orcas who depend on Chinook salmon for food, including Columbia Basin salmon runs especially in winter/spring.
The film features interviews with scientists and experts across the Northwest, from the Salish Sea to the mountain rivers of Idaho, who make the case for removing four aging dams on the lower Snake River to bring back many thousands of chinook salmon to thousands of miles of pristine rivers in the Snake River basin, providing much-needed food for orcas. Currently, all runs of Snake River salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened and endangered. This year's adult returns are predicted to be the lowest in decades.