Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 64: Hinduism and LGBTQ climate work

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 64: Hinduism and LGBTQ climate work

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 64: Hinduism and LGBTQ climate work

Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCLer Peterson Toscano. Browse all our past episode recaps here, or listen to past episodes here, and check out the latest episode in the post below. 

How does an American Hindu approach the climate crisis? What ancient values and teachings apply to modern life in America today? And how does this relate to LGBTQ issues and public health? Hari Venkatachalam connects his faith, work, heritage, and even his sexual orientation to living in a climate-changed world.

In this episode, Hari reveals how extreme weather, which affects everyone, disproportionally impacts LGBTQ homeless youth. Citizens’ Climate Radio host, Peterson Toscano, explains: 

Up to 40% of youth living on the streets in the United States and Canada are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and non-binary. Many of them avoid going to shelters because they assume they will receive the same discrimination and hostility they escaped. This is especially true for transgender and gender non-binary young people. This puts them at extra risk during extreme weather events.

Hari Venkatachalam also talks about his faith and the principles handed down to him from his father. Hari is an active member of Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and his activism focuses on environmental justice, LGBTQ+ issues, and public health. He currently works in Tampa, Florida as a public health researcher for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Listen Now!

The Art House

Joining us in the Art House is Dr. Krista Hiser, with the first in a series of an occasional feature called The Ultimate Cli-Fi Book Club. The purpose of the book club is to look at climate-themed literature and consider how it can help us engage differently with interdisciplinary topics and existential threats related to the planetary predicament of climate change. 

In this episode, Krista reflects on the cli-fi novel “Blaze Island” by Catherine Bush, and lets her imagination run wild as she pulls together some of the greatest minds in climate fiction. 

Dr. Krista Hiser is a professor at Kapiʻolani Community College. Her Ph.D. is in Educational Administration from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She has published on community engagement, service-learning, organizational change, post-apocalyptic and cli-fi literature. 

You can read a written version of Krista’s essay at The Ultimate Cli-Fi Book Club for Sustainability in Higher Education on Medium. 

You can hear standalone versions of The Art House at Artists and Climate Change.

Good News Report

Our good news comes from Anthony Leiserowitz at Yale Climate Connections. You will hear about a new fund that aims to bring more people into the climate conversation. 

We always welcome your thoughts, questions, suggestions, good news, and recommendations for the show. Leave a voicemail at 518.595.9414 (+1 if calling from outside the USA). You can email your answers to *protected email*.

You can hear Citizens’ Climate Radio on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, Podbean, Northern Spirit Radio, Google Play, PlayerFM, and TuneIn Radio. Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.

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The post Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 64: Hinduism and LGBTQ climate work appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

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Optimistic eyes on COP26

Protests

Last week, on a panel hosted by Project Syndicate on the topic of ‘green capitalism,’ the question was posed: “Are you optimistic about COP26 in Glasgow?”

My answer: I’m always optimistic. Optimism in the face of enormous odds is an undeniable aspect of being a climate justice activist.

However there is a lot more to it than that – and I’d like to break down four reasons to be optimistic about COP – and three things to keep an eye out for.

  1. Three big announcements this week. At the 76th UN General Assembly (a key pre-COP event) China announced they were stopping building coal plants overseas, President Biden announced the US is doubling its climate finance pledge, and Turkey announced it will ratify the Paris Agreement before COP26. This is BIG! This is the beginning of the end for coal funding and pushes closer to the goal that wealthy countries set to support developing countries in building climate resilience before COP26. And with Turkey joining, there are now only five countries in the world that have not ratified Paris. All of this stirs up a lot of momentum and helps set the tone for more effective negotiations at COP26.
  2. Inequity is too obvious to be ignored. Climate change is a problem about justice – by now most everyone knows that. But it has still been possible for elites to be quite comfortable and insulated from the worse effects of climate change. That is changing rapidly. Whether that is forest fires destroying multi-million dollar mansions, or sea level rise threatening secluded beach resorts – climate impacts are leveling the playing field. On top of that, the question of who has a vaccine is the number one topic prior to Glasgow. Many negotiators and members of civil society cannot get a vaccine and won’t make it to Glasgow – unless the UK government changes access rules quickly. The obvious inequity here should force the acknowledgement: there can be no discussion of climate action with understanding the climate justice implications.
  3. We know where the money is. Everyone talks a lot about how costly it will be to transform our economies away from oil, coal, and gas. Those very same industries are among the most profitable on earth, and for them, the money required to finance a just transition is a rounding error on the balance sheet. Take the $100 Billion USD pledged in assistance to get the Paris Agreement signed, that is pocket change for the oil company – add up a few bonuses and there we have it. The good news is that the movement has turned its focus to holding financial institutions responsible, and just like the tobacco companies before them – they will have to pay for the damages they’ve caused.
  4. Movement Power is building. Whether it is this Friday’s climate strikes, mass resistance to the Line 3 pipeline, or Amazon Indigenous peoples taking to the streets of Brasilia – movements continue to create momentum for lasting change. The pandemic has taken a tragic toll, but people are ever resilient, especially those fighting to save their homes and fighting for a future for their families. As far as COP26 goes – there will be protests in October and November focused on the role of banks who are paying to make the climate crisis worse, among many others. These protests turn up the volume for what is expected when negotiators arrive in Glasgow.

Amidst these reasons to be hopeful, keep an eye out for the following:

  1. Greenwashing. It’s always been an issue – but watch out for the substance (or lack of it) behind new commitments out of Glasgow. The term net zero is often used by the world’s biggest polluters to signify ambition but is a vague term that can disguise weak targets. Does a given commitment enable more fossil fuels to be dug up and burned? Then it isn’t a zero carbon solution.
  2.  Doomerism and despair. Climate despair is the new climate denial – what if activists in movements of the past gave up on fighting on things like the ability to unionize, women’s right to vote etc? Tenacity, hope, pressure and action can (and has) led to significant shifts in policies and culture, the fight for the climate is no different. There is never an excuse to give up.
  3. Chumminess. Climate change can be addressed in our lifetime – if everyone takes the necessary steps. For some of us the steps have to be bigger, given our share of  responsibility for the problem, but we are up against a familiar problem: elite chumminess – many of the CEOs of fossil fuel companies and banks went to the same schools, vacation in the same places, and have the same social norms as the CEOs engaged in climate advocacy. This pattern makes it hard to put the necessary pressure to bear – to make the uncomfortable changes we all must.

The Road to Glasgow will certainly be a bumpy one – so hang on to your hats and stay engaged!

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To meet America’s Paris pledge, climate policy Avengers must assemble

Climate Avengers assemble

A new RFF study analyzes what combination of climate policies will bring the U.S. in line with its emissions reduction pledge.

To meet America’s Paris pledge, climate policy Avengers must assemble

By Dana Nuccitelli

To meet our share of greenhouse gas emissions cuts as part of the Paris target to limit global warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, the United States has committed to cutting emissions by 50–52% below 2005 levels by 2030. Thanks to increasingly clean electricity generation, America has already made some progress toward this goal, currently sitting at about 15–20% below 2005 levels, but that still leaves a long way to go without a lot of time left to clean up our act.

That’s why the budget reconciliation package currently under consideration by Congress is so critically important. According to a new analysis from Resources from the Future (RFF), an independent and nonprofit research institution, simply continuing current climate policies would leave the U.S. more than halfway short of its Paris contribution, at just 23% below 2005 emissions levels in 2030. RFF and Rhodium Group, another independent research organization, both analyzed how close some of the major climate policies currently under consideration by Congress would bring the U.S. to its Paris pledge.

The evaluated policies

Both groups evaluated the clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits and incentives as well as the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) included in the outlined legislation. The CEPP as currently drafted by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce (the Senate has yet to weigh in) would offer financial grants to utilities that increase their annual share of clean electricity by at least 4% and charge fines to those who miss that goal. 

Rhodium’s analysis also incorporated the proposed fee on methane pollution from oil and gas operations, as well as funding for agricultural and forestry programs that achieve carbon removal through soil conservation and reforestation.

In addition to tax incentives and the CEPP, RFF also evaluated the carbon fee under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee in its analysis. The committee’s proposed carbon price would begin at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide generated from burning fossil fuels and rise at an unspecified rate. RFF mainly focused on a scenario in which the carbon price rises slowly at first (by $1 per ton 2024 then $2 in 2025, $3 in 2026, $4 in 2027, then $5 in 2028) before increasing by $10 per ton per year starting in 2029, at that point mirroring annual carbon price increase in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. In a secondary scenario, RFF considered a carbon price starting at $15 per ton in 2023 and rising slowly at 5% per year.

What did they find?

The key finding in both the RFF and Rhodium analyses is that these key policies can achieve most of America’s pledged emissions cuts, but none are sufficient on their own. According to Rhodium’s analysis, the clean technology tax credits, CEPP, methane fee, and agriculture and forestry carbon removal funding will curb US greenhouse gas emissions to about 39% below 2005 levels by 2030.

RFF’s analysis is a bit more optimistic, estimating that the tax credits and CEPP alone could achieve 39% emissions cuts, as could the slower-rising carbon fee considered by the group. The more ambitious carbon fee would cut emissions by about 44% below 2005 levels by 2030, if gasoline were exempted. The emissions cut would improve to 45% if gasoline were subject to the carbon price. A separate analysis released by Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s office estimated that the measures included in the bipartisan and reconciliation packages so far (including a methane fee but not a carbon price) would achieve 45% emissions cuts by 2030:

The common thread among all these analyses is that none meets America’s Paris commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50–52% by 2030. 

But there’s good news! RFF also evaluated a scenario in which the final packages include all three: clean technology tax incentives, a CEPP, and a carbon pollution price. In that case, using the more ambitious of its two carbon pricing scenarios, RFF found that the U.S. would achieve 50% emissions cuts by 2030 even if gasoline is exempted from carbon pricing, or 52% if it’s included. Based on this analysis, which doesn’t include other measures like a methane fee, America would meet its newly strengthened Paris pledge.

No such thing as ‘too much climate policy’

The lesson here is that meeting America’s climate commitments is a major challenge, and the more climate policies we implement, the better our chances of achieving those goals. Tax credits and a CEPP would make a big dent by decarbonizing the electricity sector and helping the transition toward electric vehicles, but as the RFF analysis found, a carbon fee would speed up that process by incentivizing immediate emissions cuts while the CEPP ramps up. RFF also found that a carbon fee would lead to significantly reduced carbon emissions in other key sectors, especially from industry and buildings.

In short, these policies are complementary, and the more we implement, the more we reduce the risks and consequences of extreme climate change damages. When it comes to climate policies, there is no such thing as “too much.” Whatever Congress can pass — clean technology tax incentives, funding for agricultural and forestry carbon sequestration, funding for better public transit, a CEPP, prices on methane and carbon, etc. — will improve our chances to meet the Paris targets. As in the final scene of “Avengers: Endgame,” we need every climate ally to win the day.

To paraphrase Captain America: Climate Avengers, assemble!

 

Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist and climate journalist with a Master’s Degree in physics. He has written about climate change since 2010 for Skeptical Science, for The Guardian from 2013 to 2018, and since 2018 for Yale Climate Connections. In 2015 he published the book “Climatology versus Pseudoscience”, and he has also authored ten peer-reviewed climate studies, including a 2013 paper that found a 97% consensus among peer-reviewed climate science research that humans are the primary cause of global warming.

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