The Christian season of Advent countenances expectation, hope, joy and purity in the lighting of candles, culminating in a moment of reverence on Christmas Day. The hopes and expectations of the future during this century are now focused on the climate crisis of our time. It becomes more and more fraught as the COP climate summits pass without concrete actions and benchmarks. COP 24 in Katowice, Poland in December of 2018 was no different, but it has become clear that progress has been stalled by corporate interests and the countries that feed on them, such as the USA, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Yet forces are coalescing around the globe and in the US which are countermanding the denial and obstruction we see at the highest levels of global interaction. Professional groups such as the USGBC, which are sponsoring internal conferences, are taking action. Former President Barack Obama spoke at Greenbuild 2019 in Atlanta, on Nov. 20: During the conversation, Obama identified climate change and global economic inequality as the most compelling issues in the world today, explaining the difficulty leaders face in addressing the two “directly connected” issues. The American Institute of Architects has also gotten behind Architecture 2030’s Ed Mazria, who has become something of a building-sector Al Gore, appearing at global conferences with pie-chart slides, says he believes another industry-wide strategy could curb carbon emissions even faster than policy. “Twenty percent of all the construction in the world is influenced by a small percentage of AEC firms. That’s where the power is,” he says.
John Kerry, the former senator and secretary of state, has just now formed a new bipartisan coalition of world leaders, military brass and Hollywood celebrities to push for public action to combat climate change.The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050. The star-studded group is supposed to win over those skeptical of the policies that would be needed to accomplish that." Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $500 million for a campaign designed to accelerate the country’s progress toward a 100% clean energy economy. The Beyond Carbon campaign will seek to close the nation’s remaining coal plants by 2030 and limit the expansion of natural gas.
In October of 2019, a gathering of city leaders at the C40 Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, seeks to accomplish more, seeking to announce initiatives, plans, and agreements that will make a significant dent in emissions. By bringing together mayors, business executives, scientists, leaders of the Youth Climate Strike, and elected officials, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is giving a keynote address on Wednesday, and Secretary General Gutteres, the gathering reflects what organizers see as the power of cities. Twenty-three states and three cities — Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC — are suing Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to loosen vehicle emissions standards. The lawsuit is intended to block the EPA from revoking portions of a wavier it granted California in 2013 to set its own standards for vehicle efficiency and electric vehicles.
While there is now a heightened sense of urgency to reduce emissions — one year later, over 455 U.S. cities have joined the Climate Mayors — not enough of those mayors are looking at dramatically remaking their cities to address the coming crisis.If these mayors agree that climate change threatens our cities, then they must confront the fact that some cities, their cities, must be relocated to confront climate change — or climate change will relocate them first.
This upwelling of environmental consciousness and organizations in the US during this era of Trump and his corporate enablers will move us into 2020 with a gathering momentum for the necessary changes needed by human societies across the globe to forge the solutions that will address climate change.
Update 11/30/19: Watch the US stall on climate change for 12 years (video)
Update 12/1/19: Greta Thunberg call to fight global warming cheers LA rally on Nov. 1
Update 12/4/19: Climate Mayors to bolster city-level action with steering committee