Climate Reality Project
Resources for Climate Reality Project
and Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps
For video of the Climate Health Meeting in Atlanta with Al Gore and others on February 16, 2017, please click here.
For more information about the Climate Reality Project, please click here.
To find information about the Climate Reality Leadership Corps and to find out about
future training opportunities, please visit the Leadership Corps website by clicking here.
If you'd like to chip in $5 or $10 to help cover the costs of my getting to this rare training and participating with grassroots leaders and climate scientists from all over the world (yes, science is a thing!), please visit my fundraising page atwww.GoFundMe.com/OwenClimate. I appreciate your support, and I'm especially eager to stay in touch and help bring this presentation to your community after my training with Vice President Gore.
Overview of the March Leadership Training
The new Administration signals an era of uncertainty for the climate movement. At our Denver training, we will review any actions that the new Administration or Congress takes to weaken climate crisis laws and regulations. We will outline how we could respond powerfully and effectively to any such measures and how we can act for maximum impact. We know that the reaction to any measures to weaken the response to the climate crisis will be nothing less than inspiring, with millions of Americans standing up for climate solutions at home while business and world leaders will, if necessary, call on the president-elect to honor the country’s commitment to action in the Paris Agreement.
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps Colorado training is where we take the next step in fighting denial at every level and building the movement that will solve the climate crisis. It’s our chance to show that Americans and citizens around the world will not stand by if actions threaten US climate leadership on the world stage, our clean air and water, clean energy jobs, and the protection of our public lands. The climate movement and our planet need you now more than ever. In Denver, you’ll gain the knowledge, skills, and tools to answer that call and become a true leader in the fight for a sustainable future.
The training will explore several of the key climate challenges ahead in Colorado and Western US states, drawing on the experience of these local battles to offer key insights activists everywhere can learn from and apply in their work at home. Focus sessions will highlight the link between the conservation of public lands and the climate crisis, the need to quickly transition to a clean energy economy, and the unique threats the West faces from the climate crisis. Sessions will also celebrate the incredible local leadership from activists, policymakers, and business influencers in the region, discussing how their victories can offer blueprints to win for activists everywhere.
In recent years, the US has made tremendous strides towards protecting public lands and reducing fossil fuel extraction. However, with a team of oil insiders now in key cabinet positions, that progress now faces uncertainty. The American West is home to culturally rich tribal lands, vibrant forests, and diverse national monuments. Continued extraction of fossil fuels, especially through hydraulic fracturing, is deeply harmful to the health and integrity of these settings and exacerbates the climate crisis. In addition to playing a pivotal role in providing vital habitat for endangered plants and animals, public lands attract innovative businesses, employ community workers, and draw visitors who fuel local economies.(1),(2) For these benefits to continue, it is crucial that public lands stay public.
As just one example of many, public lands support a wide variety of activities, from recreational pursuits such as camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking to skiing, snowboarding, and rafting. Millions of people participate in outdoor recreation in each year and contribute $256 billion to the Western economy annually while supporting over 2.3 million jobs.(3)
Still, large tracts of public land are leased for oil, gas, and coal extraction, both accelerating the climate crisis and devastating the region’s extraordinary environment. Countering this trend by encouraging greater clean energy development on public lands, however, offers the opportunity to reduce US emissions while preserving this extraordinary natural environment for humans and wildlife. The need for action has never been clearer, with mountains experiencing below average snowpack since 2000 and peak snowmelt shifting weeks earlier over the past 30 years offering just one indicator of how the climate crisis is changing the region.(4) It’s time to bring energy development in the West into the twenty-first century to preserve not only our public lands but also the quality of life they support.
States in the West have lead the way towards a clean renewable future, with potential for more leadership in the years to come. After passing the country’s first voter-approved renewable portfolio standard in 2004, Colorado is well-positioned to implement the Clean Power Plan’s goal of reducing emissions by 38 percent from 2012 to 2030.(5) New Mexico — which currently can provide an estimated 1,000 times more electricity with renewables than the state’s Public Service Company needs — sends much of its wind energy to California.(6)
The momentum shows little sign of slowing. Continued innovation has made wind and solar competitive players in the Western energy market, with cheaper integration costs and higher savings for ratepayers.(7) At the same time, 2017 promises to be a breakthrough year for energy storage, with improving technology enabling clean energy providers to better meet market and consumer demands.
The results of these trends are especially clear in Colorado where annual home solar installations more than doubled between 2012 and 2014 to 42 megawatts while wind power grew from 1.5 percent to 13.6 percent of electricity generated in the state between 2005 and 2014.(8),(9) Additionally, Colorado’s renewable energy job market has been ranked one of the top 10 in the nation, having added over 11,000 jobs in the past decade – a number that continues to grow.(10),(11)
The West faces its own threats from the climate crisis — some of which are already being felt. Changing weather patterns have been linked to record-breaking and dangerous flood events in Colorado and beyond, damaging homes, destroying infrastructure, and costing communities billions of dollars. Climate change also threatens the loss of Western forests on an unprecedented scale and magnitude, as the threat of drought and bark-eating beetles continues to grow. As a result, the area hit by forest fires in the West has nearly doubled since 1984.(12) In the past six years, the record for costliest and most destructive wildfire in Colorado has been broken four times.(13)
Meanwhile, shorter, less reliable snow seasons are affecting winter recreation and water resources. From California to Colorado, worsening drought and water scarcity jeopardize water planning and can lead to water rights skirmishes. Reduced water availability also forces greater tradeoffs between competing water users – including agriculture, ecosystems, and urban areas – which could place particular strain on farmers and ranchers — a $24 billion industry in Colorado.(14) Transitioning away from water-intensive coal plants and fracking operations can help alleviate pressure on water demand and divert precious supply back to communities and the environment.
The investments of cities, counties, and communities in clean energy and climate-friendly economies will be more important than ever as we look to the future. Local officials, looking to bolster economic benefits and job creation, are committing to change. In 2016, Boulder, Colorado became the 17th US city to pledge to reach 100 percent renewable electricity, joining fellow Colorado city Aspen and Salt Lake City and Park City in Utah.(15) Albuquerque and Denver have been consistently ranked as some of the greenest cities in America due to energy efficiency policies and sustainability initiatives.(16) In addition to inspiring work from municipal leaders, businesses have stepped up to fight against the climate crisis, coming together to remove barriers to growth within the renewable energy sector.(17) Entrepreneurs and innovators in the West continue to provide new solutions to help former mining and fossil fuel communities diversify and adapt to the realities of the twenty-first century. The outdoor tourism industry has been recognized nationally for initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote environmental stewardship.(18) These acts of leadership will be vital to ensuring that progress in the West continues in the years to come. Borrowing from Colorado’s official slogan, it’s time for the next generation of activists and problem solvers to “come to life” and cement the American West’s role as a climate leader of the twenty-first century.
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