OUR MISSION AND GOALS
At The Climate Reality Project, our mission is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society.
Because today, the truth is clear. Our fossil fuel economy is making the Earth hotter and more dangerous seemingly by the day. Unless we slash emissions by 2030, scientists say we could pass a point of no return and see the crisis become a global catastrophe.
At Climate Reality, we know that if humanity created this crisis, we can solve it too.
Led by former Vice President Al Gore and CEO Ken Berlin, we’re working to do just that, fighting for a just transition to clean energy that will not only help stop climate change, but create a fairer and healthier future for the many.
This is the story of that fight in 2018. It’s a story of everyday people coming together to speak truth to power. It’s a story of the many standing up against the few for a better tomorrow for us all – and winning.
Most of all, it’s a story that was only possible because of friends like you. Thank you.
A LETTER FROM OUR
FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN
From deadly heat waves across the planet, to the horrifying fires sweeping through California and nearly a dozen other U.S. states, to the historic droughts and record breaking high temperatures all over the planet — Mother Nature made her voice loud and clear in 2018.
And already this year, the tragic devastation of the Bahamas by deadly Hurricane Dorian, the astonishing new rate of ice-melting in Greenland, the swamping of farmland in the Midwest and more record high temperatures.
When I read the news and talk to people in communities around the world, I can hear that something has changed. I hear a new sense of urgency almost everywhere, and an awareness of the climate crisis as a truly global emergency, at a level I’ve not heard before.
And not a minute too soon. Because we are running out of time to stop this crisis from becoming a catastrophe. According to the world’s leading scientists, we only have a limited window in which to halve global greenhouse gas emissions and transform our energy systems planet-wide.
But as great as our challenge is, we are living in a moment of unprecedented possibility. Because now, the world is waking up. We saw in the US midterm elections that Americans have had enough of climate denial and inaction. Across the Earth, students are striking from school, and more people are marching in the streets and standing up to fight for the sustainable future in our grasp.
More than anything else, this is what gives me hope. When I see thousands of new Climate Reality Leaders jumping into action, or towns and major cities like Denver, Colorado going renewable through our 100% Committed campaign, or the millions tuning in to learn about the crisis during 24 Hours of Reality, I know we can win.
For this, I want to say to you, our friends and supporters, thank you. None of this would be possible without you. The unprecedented support and demand for bold climate action would not be possible if not for your commitment and support. I hope you feel proud. I feel deeply grateful.
Founder & Chairman
Build a Critical Mass
Climate Reality Leadership Corps
Come as you are. Leave as a world changer.
That’s the promise we made to nearly 3,500 new Climate Reality Leader activists in 2018. They came to our trainings in Mexico City, Berlin, and Los Angeles to spend three days working with Vice President Gore and field-leading scientists, communicators, organizers, and more. They came to learn not just the science behind the climate crisis, but how we can solve it.
Most important, they came to learn what they could do.
They left with the network and know-how to spark change all around the world. In Pennsylvania, new Leaders got to work mobilizing communities to stop the dangerous natural gas buildout spreading across the state. In Mexico and Germany, Leaders began pushing policymakers to increase their Paris Agreement commitments. And that was just for starters.
Key Themes and Sessions
- Mexico’s Leadership on Solutions
- Carbon Pricing
- Climate Science
Dr. Mario J. Molina
Key Themes and Sessions
- Just Energy Transition
- Moving Beyond Coal
- Decarbonizing Transit
- Bonn Mayor Ashok Sridharan
- European MP Bas Eikhout
European Commission Director
Los Angeles Training
Key Themes and Sessions
- California Leadership on Solutions
- Ensuring Equity
- Clean Energy
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
US Youth Poet Laureate
Environmental Justice Leader
The Los Angeles training was made possible by the incredibly generous support of Climate Reality Board Member Cindy Horn and Alan Horn.
Climate Reality CHAPTERS
Winning without the White House
The White House may be working for the fossil fuel industry, but that doesn’t stop Americans from fighting for climate solutions in communities from sea to shining sea.
We created Climate Reality chapters to take this fight forward on two fronts. Our community chapters are a national network of activist epicenters where Climate Reality Leaders work with local leaders to fight the fossil fuel agenda at every turn. Campus chapters rally students to bring practical climate solutions to their colleges and universities.
In 2018, we saw the difference they can make. Activists at nearly 90 chapters stretching from the Pacific Northwest to the Florida Panhandle marched. They gathered signatures. They met with civic, school, and business leaders. They reached out to friends and neighbors. Most important, they kept the movement going, growing, and winning.
Climate Speakers Network
Community voices have a story to tell. We help turn up the volume.
We know the climate crisis affects us all. But all too often, communities outside the green mainstream and those hit hardest by fossil fuel pollution and climate-fueled storms are left out of the conversation on solutions.
The Climate Speakers Network (CSN) aims to change that. Launched in 2015, CSN works to build a more inclusive climate movement where all communities know what the crisis means for them and have a voice in how we solve it.
To do it, CSN trains Latinx, faith, and environmental justice leaders to use the power of their own story to share the reality of the crisis in their community and inspire their friends, colleagues, parishioners, and more to act.
In 2018 Climate Speakers were:
Reducing energy and water footprints of 12 Catholic churches
in Atlanta, Georgia.
Increasing solar energy access in Boston, Massachusetts.
Connecting faith communities to financial assistance for choosing
renewable and off-grid power.
Creating catalysts for climate action.
Founded by the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of inspiring young people tackling the great challenges of our time, from food security to energy access to affordable housing for all.
We see Shapers and we see incredible young people with the insight, imagination, and innovative thinking to make a difference. Thanks to the generous support and partnership of Rosamund Zander, we train these world-changers-in-the-making to connect climate issues with key fights like hunger and social justice. We also help Shapers hone their communications and organizing skills to mobilize their communities for climate action and win.
Through these trainings – held at Shaper events around the world – we’re creating catalysts, providing the tools and know-how for these incredible people to spread awareness like wildfire and set examples whole industries and communities follow. Many Shapers then train as Climate Reality Leaders to deepen their understanding of the crisis and build their advocacy and organizing skills even further.
These trainings empower Shapers to bring new focus to sustainability in their businesses, launch major plastic reduction campaigns, start impact investing, rethink clean energy access for off-grid homes, and so much more.
With every Shaper we train, we know it’s the start of something big. And where it ends, that’s a bet we’re not taking.
24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves
Raising the alarm on the climate-health crisis worldwide.
It’s a fact that touches us all. No matter who we are or where we live, nothing matters more than our families and the people we love. And no matter where we live, the climate crisis is putting their health in danger.
But today, it’s a fact too few understand. So on December 3–4, we raised the alarm with the global broadcast event 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves, hosted by Vice President Gore.
For 24 hours straight, we traveled around the world exploring how the climate crisis is fast becoming one of the greatest health crises we’ve ever seen. We spoke to public health experts and policymakers. We heard from activists on the frontlines of the fight for clean energy solutions. We talked to influencers across the spectrum and heard from today’s most exciting musicians.
Through it all, we reached over 800 million television households and millions more online with the truth of how the climate crisis threatens our health, raising awareness on a global scale.
In addition, after the December 3–4 event, a one-hour special featuring highlights from throughout the broadcast aired in the US on Nat Geo Wild in January 2019, bringing the message to even more.
24 Hours of Reality hosts, speakers, and artists (left to right, top to bottom): Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra; Clare Bowen; Vice President Al Gore and Marcin Patrzalek; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. CEO Bernard J. Tyson and Vice President Al Gore; Jaden Smith and Vice President Al Gore; Vanessa Hauc; Calum Worthy and Alyson Stoner; Thomas Middleditch and Vice President Al Gore; The Lumineers; Cecilia Della Peruti and Kate Nash; Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes and Vice President Al Gore; Arlissa.
IMPLEMENT, MONITOR, STRENGTHEN
Building support for a stronger Paris Agreement.
Reaching the Paris Agreement was a historic accomplishment, but it was only the first step toward a truly global climate solution. Our 10 international branches now work to keep the pressure on policymakers in key countries and regions to not only honor their Paris commitments, but strengthen them in time to make our 2030 emissions deadline.
Branches serve as activist nerve centers, organizing Climate Reality Leaders to build popular support for practical solutions like renewable electricity and working with influencers in every sector to shape public opinion and compel elected officials to act.
The good news is that they’re making a difference. Even as the White House ignores reality in the US, our branches are ensuring the global fight continues when it matters.
Johannesburg, South Africa
653 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Leading the Action 24 program to strengthen government and public participation in advancing decarbonized sustainable and inclusive development in South Africa, including training government officers and legislators.
- - Building public support for carbon pricing in South Africa.
854 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Elevating climate as a national priority issue for all Australians, developing and delivering regional presentations on climate change and solutions for diverse audiences.
- - Partnering with Sustainable Victoria and Plan International to host an event on climate and gender.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
585 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Branch director Alfredo Sirkis spearheaded campaigns pushing Brazil to ratify and implement the Paris Agreement, helping keep the country on track to meet its emissions reduction commitments.
- - Educating presidential and other government candidates on the climate crisis through workshops and other outreach.
- - Launching a campaign engaging 800 students at 40 Rio de Janeiro high schools in climate action.
905 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Launching a Community Climate Hub program mobilizing activists to build public support for renewable energy in 20 municipalities across the country.
- - Thanks to Community Climate Hub activists, Montreal committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2042. Hub activists were also instrumental in Ottawa leading Canada’s efforts to develop the country’s National Climate League metrics for tracking greenhouse gas emissions.
905 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Training influencers as Climate Speakers in Shenzen in October.
- - Bringing Climate Reality CEO and President Ken Berlin to judge Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange’s Green Carbon Award.
1,579 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Engaging new Climate Reality Leaders from the June 2018 Berlin Training in 100% Committed clean energy campaigns, Campus Corps youth outreach, and more.
- - Training activists to speak effectively about the climate crisis and build support for action in advance of the UN’s COP 24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland.
- - Organizing a pre-COP 24 conference entitled, “The Paris Agreement vs. the IPCC 1.5 Report – Are We on Track?”, attended by government and NGO representatives across Europe.
New Delhi, India
575 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Training 462 teachers and 75 school principals to serve as trusted messengers and educators on climate change and sustainable development in their communities.
- - Meeting with industry leaders in six states as part of the Clean Energy Business Promotion Campaign to raise awareness of renewable energy.
- - Planting 51,000 trees to offset carbon emissions.
287 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Training students, government officials, and NGO leaders on the climate crisis.
- - Holding a youth leadership camp focused on climate action for 60 young people, featuring a screening of An Inconvenient Sequel and a conversation with the country’s special envoy for climate change.
MEXICO AND LATIN AMERICA BRANCH
Mexico City, Mexico
1,259 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Engaging young people in the fight for climate solutions through special youth workshops.
- - Meeting with political figures and candidates (including now President Andrés Manuel López Obrador) to raise awareness of climate solutions.
- - Engaging new Climate Reality Leaders from the 2018 Mexico City training in dynamic campaigns including 100% Committed, Voices for the Climate, and Let’s Talk about Climate.
- - Using popular media to raise awareness.
- - Educating the media on covering the crisis effectively, developing a climate manual for journalists.
- - Bringing climate-focused films to film festivals.
Quezon City, Philippines
592 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Spearheading a campaign leading to successful introduction of a tax on coal.
- - Reversing government resolutions supporting a new coal-fired power plant on the island of Mindano.
- - Successfully advocating for phasing out dangerous hydrofluorocarbons in the country’s Paris Agreement commitments.
- - Working with the National Youth Commission to educate young people about the crisis.
Accelerate the Transition
Because 100 percent renewable is 100 percent doable.
The White House can say what it wants. The shift to renewables is on and accelerating by the day.
Case in point: the growing number of communities in the US and around the world committing to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. And driving many of them are Climate Reality chapters and activists, working with partners throughout the movement.
At the heart of the 100% Committed campaign is a commitment to empowering regular people to take charge of their energy future. The first step is building broad support for renewables in the community, raising awareness not just of the cost-efficient technologies available but also how leaving fossil fuels behind can create healthy futures for all.
With a coalition of residents behind them, chapters and activists turn that support into pressure on decision-makers at universities, businesses, and city and county municipalities to commit to shifting to 100 percent renewable electricity. And – just as important – to do it through just transition paths that create a future for fossil fuel workers and ensure no community gets left behind.
The good news? It’s working.
BIG WINS IN 2018
Our Denver-Boulder chapter worked with the Sierra Club to push the City of Denver to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity.
NEW YORK STATE
Our Hudson Valley-Catskills chapter started a wave of commitments, first persuading small businesses to choose renewables and then securing pledges from the Town of New Paltz and Ulster County.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Chapter activists led the successful movement to get the City of Charlotte to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, which is projected to reduce emissions by nearly 1 million tonnes each year.
We know the fossil fuel economy has a clear system of winners and losers.
On the one side, powerful corporations who pollute the environment and accelerate climate change while making billions. On the other, communities of color and low-income families choking on toxic chemicals from industry pollution. Billions of people living with the reality of growing climate devastation.
How can we change this picture and make energy fair? By putting a market price on carbon pollution and making a just transition to clean energy.
Through our chapters, Pricing Pollution™ works to build support for fair carbon pricing plans that make polluters pay for the damage they do and directly supports affected communities.
In 2018, the campaign targeted state-level decision makers, urging them to implement carbon solutions guided by just transition principles. The campaign worked in seven states and was instrumental in getting a statewide initiative on the ballot in Washington State as well as advancing bills through several state legislatures.
These efforts were critical in educating policymakers and the public on the real benefits of carbon pricing. Equally important, these efforts helped build broad coalitions of allies and partners that will be instrumental in pushing carbon pricing policies over the line in the months and years ahead.
involved with campaigns
Think global. Start local. For two new initiatives launched in 2018, the
words are more than a tagline – they’re a philosophy of change that works.
FIGHTING PETROCHEMICALS IN THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY
In 2018, with support from the Heinz Foundation, we launched a new effort to organize communities in the Ohio River Valley to fight the dangerous expansion of petrochemical facilities. Through Climate Reality chapters in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, activists mobilize families to block new ethane cracker plants, fracking pipelines, and other infrastructure that not only dump more carbon pollution into the atmosphere, but fill the air and water with cancer-causing chemicals.
COUNTY CLIMATE COALITION
At the Climate Reality Leadership training in LA in August 2018, we began a partnership with Santa Clara County to launch the County Climate Coalition. The Coalition aims to push county governments from sea to shining sea to make concrete commitments to reducing emissions and helping the US ultimately meet its Paris Agreement goals.
Making the crisis real with digital outreach.
Back in 2006, the global phenomenon of An Inconvenient Truth began with one simple idea. Make the climate crisis real for regular people – parents, students, workers, and more – and they’ll want to take action.
Twelve years on, this same idea drives an ambitious digital outreach program speaking to audiences around the world about what the crisis means for them. Using wide-ranging content from explainer videos to e-books, we connect climate with the everyday lives of millions and empower them to act.
Through this approach, our digital communications are helping raise awareness, change the cultural conversation, and inspire action across the Earth.
How do we know?
- University classes at Kent State and the Chinese University of Hong Kong use our blogs to teach students about climate denial.
- Teachers at Thornton Junior High School in Fresno, California use Climate Reality materials to educate students about clean energy.
- Publications from the New York Times to Vogue now follow Vice President Gore in speaking of “the climate crisis,” framing the challenge for millions.
- Social audiences are actively engaging with our content, sharing posts with friends, joining the comments conversation, and reacting in the millions.
- Audiences are joining our campaigns to fight the Trump Administration’s fossil fuel agenda, with over 201,000 digital actions in 2018 alone.
Building a diverse movement to win.
We couldn’t do this important work alone. We join forces with incredible partners from across the US and around the world for our Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, Climate Speakers Network events, 24 Hours of Reality, and many other initiatives.
For a list of just some of the great partners helping bring a message of urgency and hope to millions worldwide, please visit our strategic partnerships page.
We’re deeply proud of the people, stories, and campaigns in this report. But whatever we do, there’s always going to be one of the most important parts of our work missing.
You make change happen. You make it possible for us to train the incredible Climate Reality Leaders bringing real climate solutions to communities in over 100 countries. You are instrumental in pushing towns, cities, businesses, and schools across the US and around the world to choose 100 percent renewable electricity.
The list only starts there – and so does our gratitude. Thanks to you, the world is moving forward to a clean energy economy and – we believe deeply – will act boldly to meet the 2030 deadline scientists have set. Thanks to you, Americans are pushing back against the Trump Administration’s dangerous fossil fuel agenda at every turn.
Thanks to you, more and more people around the world are standing up to fight for a sustainable future.
This is how change happens. Big, profound change. We’re grateful to have friends like you to make it possible – because we couldn’t do it without you.
President & CEO
A LETTER FROM OUR
FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN
You probably felt it too.
Maybe it was Mother Nature speaking up with the summer of deadly heat across the planet. Maybe it was the horrifying fires sweeping through California. Maybe it was the IPCC’s devastating report on rising temperatures. Maybe it was the way our activists and friends like you simply would not stop speaking up.
Maybe it was all the above. Because this year, when I heard people talking on the news, online, and even out on the street, I could hear that something had changed. I could hear a new sense of urgency, an awareness of the climate crisis as a truly global emergency, all at a level I’ve not heard before.
And not a minute too soon. Because we face a race against time to stop this crisis from becoming a catastrophe. According to the IPCC, we only have until 2030 to halve global emissions and transform our energy systems planet-wide.
But make no mistake, as great as our challenge is, we are living in a moment of unprecedented possibility. Because now, the world is waking up. We saw in the US midterm elections that Americans have had enough of climate denial and inaction. Across the Earth, more and more people are standing up to fight for the sustainable future in our grasp.
More than anything else, this is what gives me hope. When I see thousands of new Climate Reality Leaders jumping right into action or the towns and cities going renewable through our 100% Committed campaign or the millions tuning in to learn about the crisis during 24 Hours of Reality, I know we can win.
For this, I want to say to you, our friends and supporters, thank you. None of this would be possible without you. When you see a major city like Denver, Colorado going renewable or support for bold climate action hitting the highest numbers pollsters have seen, know you had a hand. I hope you feel proud. I feel deeply grateful.
Founder & Chairman
TRAINED: BERLIN 2018
They say travel broadens the mind. For Nico Scagliarini, it also gave a new sense of purpose. While spending an exchange semester at the University of Sydney in 2010, Nico saw for herself the extraordinary destruction coal mining inflicts on the climate and the natural environment.
She also saw that hardly anyone in Australia was talking about it. So, to change that, she began documenting the scars that coal and climate change were leaving in Australia and sharing the results in a series of stunning photographs.
Fast forward to 2018. Nico was living in Hamburg, Germany, working as a communications consultant for NGOs and sustainable businesses when she trained in Berlin. At the training, she learned that coal was ravaging German communities and landscapes in the same way she’d witnessed in Australia. She saw, once again, that not nearly enough people were talking about it.
Nico’s response was to join forces with other Leaders to create the Climate Hub Hamburg, a place where she began giving monthly talks on climate, coal, and solutions. Climate Hub Hamburg didn’t stop there, either, launching a web video series documenting the human costs of coal in a village being swallowed by a monstrous open pit mine.
TRAINED: MEXICO CITY 2018
Alejandra Ramirez knew early on she had a calling. Wanting to share the deep appreciation for the natural world she’d gained as a child, Alejandra volunteered as a teenager to guide visitors through her local museum’s climate change exhibit. But as she spoke to people day after day, she discovered how few understood what the climate crisis meant or shared her conviction that we must act.
Alejandra decided she could help change that. She started by studying biology at university so she could learn more about the science of climate change. As a student, she wanted to bring more young people into the climate movement, so she started her own nonprofit to do just that, earning her Mexico City’s prestigious Youth Award.
It was just the start. Alejandra would spend 10 years after graduating working on a range of climate, conservation, and biodiversity issues. During this time, she became director of sustainability in the Mexico City municipality of Azcapotzalco, bringing people across sectors together to create wide-ranging climate strategies. It’s been challenging and sometimes lonely work, but training as a Climate Reality Leader has connected Alejandra with a network of other local activists and helped rekindle her passion for engaging young people in the climate fight.
DR. JAIRO GARCIA
TRAINED: LOS ANGELES, 2018
Dr. Jairo Garcia knows cities can play critical roles in the fight for a sustainable future. In fact, he has a plan for it.
As the former director of climate policies and renewables with the City of Atlanta, Dr. Garcia wrote Atlanta’s first climate action plan and was instrumental in the city committing to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.
Now, as the chief executive director at Urban Climate Nexus, he’s helping cities across the country follow Atlanta’s lead and develop their own holistic approach to sustainability and cutting carbon emissions.
After training as a Climate Reality Leader, Dr. Garcia is taking this commitment to an even bigger stage. Leading the Atlanta chapter’s efforts in the Georgia state legislature, Dr. Garcia is working to remove barriers to renewables and push the state to create pro-climate policies like a renewable energy standard.
He’s also working with the chapter to pressure the state utility, Georgia Power, to make a stronger commitment to renewables with a full-court press of letters to the editor, public comments, and personal testimony. In addition, he trains Atlanta Leaders on best practices for effective climate presentations, helping spread awareness throughout the region.
TRAINED: DENVER 2017
Actor, activist, and Climate Reality Leader Tim Guinee doesn’t aim small.
Tim started the Climate Reality Project: Hudson Valley and Catskills Chapter to make the upstate community of historic towns and picturesque villages a leader in the movement for 100 percent renewable electricity. And did he deliver.
Tim took a strategic approach, starting by reaching out to the business community in Ulster County. He began by working with local coffee shops, independent businesses, and regional names like Bread Alone bakery to join 100% Committed and go all in on renewable electricity by 2030.
With many businesses on board, Tim raised the stakes, getting the town of New Paltz and then the whole Ulster County government to commit to renewable electricity. After securing 48 commitments, Tim is now reaching outside the county to grow the movement even more, starting a domino effect that shows no sign of slowing. Just like Tim.
TRAINED: HOUSTON 2016
For over 20 years, Jane Stackhouse has worked as an instructional designer, presenter, and learning consultant for companies of all sizes. Along the way, she’s become a firm believer in the idea that a just transition to clean energy will help not only help us become more resilient to climate change, but grow stronger and healthier communities.
Driven by this conviction, she’s co-led the Climate Reality Project: Portland, OR Chapter in its work with the Renew Oregon coalition to push the landmark Clean Energy Jobs bill to limit and price carbon pollution through the Oregon legislature in 2018.
Thanks in part to the chapter’s efforts – holding educational events, making 100 calls to state representatives, and personally lobbying lawmakers as part of Renew Oregon’s historic lobby day – the bill advanced through both state House and Senate committees.
While the bill did not ultimately receive a floor vote, the pressure Jane helped bring led the state senate president and speaker of the house to agree to prioritize carbon pricing in the 2019 legislative session. Jane will be there again, working to ensure the bill passes with justice provisions protecting low-income families.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA CHAPTERS
Some things are worth the wait.
Back in March 2017, Haley Nieh and Anna Whitney, chairs of the University of California Santa Barbara and Berkeley chapters, respectively, met with UC Director of Sustainability Matt St. Clair.
Their goal was simple: Get the entire University of California system – with its 10 campuses, five medical centers, and three affiliated national research labs – to go all-in on renewable electricity and join our 100% Committed campaign. They knew the UC system committing to renewable electricity would not only make a huge cut in state emissions, but also make a powerful statement to colleges and universities across the country: We did this and you can too.
St. Clair was sympathetic, but unable to make the commitment at the time. Each UC campus at the time had its own climate action plan and the system’s medical centers needed more planning.
But Nieh and Whitney didn’t give up and led chapter activists in joining town hall meetings on UC sustainability efforts, built coalitions with students at other campuses, and continued to press the administration for a system-wide climate action plan.
Thanks in part to their efforts and continued work within the system, the University of California announced it would expand its system-wide sustainability goals as part of its Carbon Neutrality Initiative. For the chapters, the big announcement was that the university would aim for 100 percent renewable electricity on all its campuses and medical centers by 2025.
WASHINGTON STATE CHAPTERS
Talk about David versus Goliath.
While the dominant media narrative in the 2018 US elections was all about the battle for control of Congress, out in Washington State there was another critical battle underway between regular people and powerful fossil fuel corporations.
Initiative 1631 (I-1631) sought to create the first-in-the-nation plan to put a price on carbon pollution from utilities and other big emitters and use the revenue to support frontlines communities impacted by climate change, green jobs, and a just transition to clean energy, among other areas.
That the measure even appeared on the November ballot was due in no small part to the efforts of our five Washington chapters – Bellingham, Snohomish County, Seattle, Tacoma, and Thurston County – which together collected over 15,500 of the 347,800 signatures necessary. One single Climate Reality Leader – Jill McIntyre Witt – collected 1,765 alone.
Once the initiative was on the ballot, the fossil fuel fear machine sprang into action, spending over $30 million opposing the measure. Undeterred, chapter activists kept fighting, talking to community members, holding a major day of action, and phone banking to build support.
With fossil fuel money and messages dominating the airwaves, I-1631 ultimately received just 45 percent of votes. There was a real silver lining, however. The campaign didn’t just raise awareness of the climate threat across the state. It also built a truly diverse coalition of environmentalists, native tribes, communities of color, and others to fight it, creating a blueprint for a truly inclusive and powerful movement going forward.
LONG ISLAND CHAPTER
In 2014, the town of East Hampton on Long Island’s scenic South Fork pledged to reach 100 percent renewable electricity as part of its long-term commitment to sustainability. The next step was figuring how to get there.
So when a company proposed building New York’s first offshore windfarm, some 30 miles off the coast, Long Island chapter members knew they couldn’t miss this opportunity. Especially because the windfarm would not only provide 100 percent of East Hampton’s electricity needs without carbon pollution, but also bring some $8 million in community benefits.
When the town board met to consider approval for next steps, chapter member and Climate Reality Leader Cate Rodgers was there to give a powerful speech in favor, citing Vice President Gore and noting that the impacts of climate change “are increasing as the cost of mitigation increases as well.” Her testimony helped swing a narrow decision, allowing the project to continue moving forward and putting New York on the path to its first offshore windfarm.
THE AFRICAN CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT
Branch Manager: Gillian Hamilton
Action 24 Project Manager: Noelle Garcin
Action 24 Gauteng Province Coordinator: Vusi Ndukuya
Communications Officer: Nicole Thérèse Rodel
When you’re tackling something as big and complex as the climate crisis, it helps to have deep commitment, wide-ranging expertise, and even a little hope. Just ask the team at the African Climate Reality Project, Climate Reality’s Africa branch office in Johannesburg.
After realizing traditional business values weren’t for her, Branch Manager Gillian Hamilton began a new career in sustainable development, working in HIV prevention and treatment for women and children. Recognizing the implications of climate change in Africa for herself and her children, Gillian shifted course again and trained in the GIZ Climate Leadership Program, becoming a real climate activist and joining Climate Reality.
A longtime human rights activist, Project Assistant Vusi Ndukuya has taken a big-picture approach to climate action. After training in business management, Vusi began working with an energy efficiency program and then at the Sustainability Institute Innovation Lab. At the lab, he worked with solar microgrids to increase access to clean and safe energy for the urban poor. The experience deepened his understanding of the climate crisis, and wanting to use his knowledge of renewable energy systems to solve it, he joined the African Climate Reality Project.
With a background in political science and international relations, Project Manager Noelle Garcin originally hails from France, but has spent the last 11 years working in Asia, Belgium, and South Africa. Prior to joining the African Climate Reality Project in 2016, she spent seven years coordinating and managing an African-European civil society network advocating for the right to basic education in Africa, and for better development cooperation practices.
Spending time in South Africa’s game reserves as a photographer and videographer, Communications Officer Nicole Thérèse Rodel always had an interest in environmental activism. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Rhodes University, she knew she wanted to produce work about the connection between conservation and healthy communities – and she knew the traditional newsroom wasn’t the place to do it. Introduced to Climate Reality by her mother – who trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2014 – she found a home at the African Climate Reality Project and has worked to raise awareness of the interconnected issues of environmental injustice in South Africa and beyond.
Despite their different backgrounds, all the African Climate Reality Project staff share a common commitment to challenging old attitudes on fossil fuels and creating a new model of low-carbon development in Africa. And drawing inspiration from the incredible young people they see standing up to fight for their future across the continent, they know they can do it.