Monday, August 09, 2021

Climate CODE RED

First, an updated on weighing in about how the city should spend American Recovery Act Funds. There is a detailed section of the May 17 Federal Register outlining what are and aren't acceptable uses for these funds. Acceptable would be weatherizing the heck (to net zero?) out of low-income housing or restoring funding for public services cut because of COVID (ahem, LIBRARY). Unacceptable, starting new programs that will require new funding to keep them going. Read it for yourself and then please complete the online forms to share your priorities.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its latest report and it can be (and has been) summed up in two words: CODE RED

"Within the next two decades, temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, breaching the ambition of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and bringing widespread devastation and extreme weather.

"Only rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gases in this decade can prevent such climate breakdown, with every fraction of a degree of further heating likely to compound the accelerating effects, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science." - Major climate changes inevitable and irreversible – IPCC’s starkest warning yet, The Guardian (UK), August 9

As many are pointing out, dire does not mean hopeless. We have the knowledge and the tools to make major changes immediately. While it's true that a huge chunk of emissions comes from a few large corporations, another huge chunk comes from our current "business as usual," and that can change if enough people make it change.

Our city and county are taking steps now to plan for climate action. The city has already put solar panels on buildings and will soon start an interactive climate plan process. The county is taking a similar path, led by County Board Chair Monica Kruse who clearly gets it.

There are some institutions that are ahead on climate action, like Gundersen Health Systems and Organic Valley, and there are some who haven't yet committed, like UW-L and the La Crosse School District. We need to let all our institutions and electeds know that we expect strong action now. In addtition, we should press for divestment as the UW Divestment Council and others in the state are doing. How many La Crosse foundations are divested from fossil fuels? 

Take action by contacting elected representatives to tell them how important this is. Demand that fossil fuel subsidies be stripped from legislation and that the Biden administration shuts down Line 3. Ask your school and workplace what their climate action plans are. Tell our local media that we want them to start giving at least as much coverage to the climate crisis as they do to high school sports. Work with divestment movements to ensure fossil fuel industries can't find funding. Promote clean, renewable energy solutions like walk/bike/transit programs and strong weatherization initiatives. Call out business as usual and demand climate action priorities and thinking.

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