Teach-Ins on Climate andJustice to be Held Worldwide on March 30, 2022
Information Sessions Scheduled for January 13, 2022
As the negative impacts of the climate crisis accumulate, faith communities have a vital role to play in addressing climate change and creating just climate solutions. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues must act now to make a difference. The Worldwide Teach-in on Climate and Justice aims to mobilize half a million educators, students and community members to participate in a historic global event on March 30, 2022.
“The climate crisis is about more than data and science. It is about perceptions, beliefs and values,” says Karenna Gore, executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics. “We are excited to help engage faith communities and institutions in the worldwide climate teach-in on March 30 because they have a vital role to play in facing up to the root causes of the climate crisis and creating positive change.”
“We are all experiencing the rising sense of climate despair,” says Dr. Eban Goodstein, director of Bard Graduate Programs in Sustainability and founder of the Worldwide Teach-in on Climate and Justice. “By mobilizing half a million faith leaders, seminarians, educators, students and people of faith around the world, we aim to replace that despair with a powerful sense of agency about the work we can do together—this year, next year and over the next decades—to change the future.”
Gore and Goodstein noted that the teach-in model for faith communities is designed to be adapted by each community and its members according to their unique circumstances.
To help describe the roles that faith communities and people of faith can take in the Worldwide Teach-In, Bard and CEE are holding information sessions on January 13, 2022, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Interested individuals canregister here to learn ways to engage people from their faith community in serious dialogue about climate solutions and justice in the transition. Gore will be a guest speaker at these sessions.
On its Worldwide Teach-In website, anyone can access easy-to-organize models for teach-ins at colleges, universities, high schools and middle schools, and K-6 classes, as well as faith communities.
Environmental justice scholar and advocate William J. Barber III has joined CEE as a fellow for the Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement Program. He brings to the Center nearly a decade of social justice organizing experience along with deep academic training in both the science and the law behind environmental and climate issues.
“I am pleased to join the Center as a fellow for this next year,” says Barber. “The work that the Center is doing to reclaim the calls for stewardship of our planet—across multiple faiths—speaks to my own desire to explore how we build a movement of power and principle to save people and planet.”
“We are thrilled that Will has taken this fellowship with the Center for Earth Ethics,” says Executive Director Karenna Gore. “He has a deep understanding of the intersection of issues that have culminated in the climate crisis and brings extraordinary skills, insight and passion to solving it in a way that forwards justice.”
“As a son of the church, exploring these intersections of faith and social activism resonates with my own upbringing rooted in a legacy of social justice ministry,” adds Barber.
Barber recently co-authored, with Ethan Blumenthal, an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer presenting “an objective view of implementing greenhouse reduction policies in North Carolina while fully addressing equity and environmental justice concerns.” He was also profiled as part of LinkedIn’s “Rising Leaders” series.
Barber is the strategic partnerships manager at The Climate Reality Project, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary’s Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board, as well as co-chair for the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign Ecological Devastation Committee.
Recently, he founded The Rural Beacon Initiative, a multi-member startup that provides consultation for groups looking to advance equity, climate justice, and environmental justice.
He has several years of experience in grassroots and community organizing. He was a field secretary for the North Carolina NAACP for two years and was one of a three-member leadership team for its Moral Freedom Summer, a long-term voter mobilization campaign. Barber earned his B.S. in environmental physics from North Carolina Central University and earned his juris doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of law, where he focused on environmental law and policy.
On the 49th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Executive Director Karenna Gore penned a guest column, “The common wealth of water,” in the Virginia Mercury. Gore urged Virginia’s state government not to certify the planned Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would bring fracked gas from West Virginia to southern Virginia.
“Virginians who live along this pipeline route are experiencing a terrible burden. It is financial, but it also goes far beyond that,” she writes. “They are forced to watch as the government hands over their landscape to private interests who damage it, all for the sake of a project that does not benefit them and should not even exist.”
With President Biden’s January 20th executive order canceling permits for the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, my involvement with the Montana Sierra Club gave me some backseat insights into the many stages of pipeline resistance. Organizers often begin with lawsuits, sometimes with Indigenous groups or tribes as the leaders or co-plaintiffs challenging various legalities of pipelines. These challenges, which are necessarily based on what existing laws will recognize, often have to do with water crossings, endangered species survival, and Indigenous sacred sites and treaty territories.
Organizers check the boxes of every aspect of civic engagement to draw attention to these challenges, organizing letter-writing campaigns and public commentary addressed to elected officials and the agencies that issue permits to these pipelines, like the Department of Environmental Quality and the Army Corps of Engineers. They hold marches and sit-ins, and write op-eds for the newspapers. At the end of that process, the companies seeking to build usually receive their permits. Many lawsuits can delay construction for a while, even though pipeline companies’ usual playbook includes constructing while permits are appealed in court, so they can later argue that they’ve invested too much to turn back on the project. In the last month, three major oil pipelines – Keystone XL (KXL), the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), and Enbridge Line 3 – have come to the forefront as environmental injustices the Biden administration must address.
During the Obama presidency, the KXL pipeline made national headlines. Most Americans were unaware, however, that after then-President Obama rejected KXL’s construction in 2015, Donald Trump put the project back on track at the beginning of his presidency in 2017. Between 2017 and 2021, organizers and activists, especially in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, have mobilized to fight this pipeline returned from the grave, even as the pandemic descended.
Unlike KXL, most pipeline protests in the U.S. receive little national media attention. That includes pipelines like Spectra Energy’s natural gas pipeline, which the Center for Earth Ethics’ Karenna Gore was arrested protesting in 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which peaked in 2016, only garnering mainstream coverage when its resistance camp grew so large that people around the world knew its name and supported the resistance on social media. Similar to KXL, President Obama canceled permits for DAPL in 2016 just before he left the presidency. President Trump resurrected the pipeline in 2017. Since then, the Dakota Access pipeline has been funneling oil from North Dakota to Illinois for nearly four years.
Since late November, news of another major oil pipeline resistance has spread through organizing communities. In northern Minnesota, Enbridge, a Canadian oil transport company, is constructing a new and expanded Line 3 across the Canada-U.S. border. Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)-led resistance groups have called for support from around the country. Enbridge’s first Line 3 was built in 1961, and its over 900 “structural anomalies” have finally pushed Enbridge to seek to reconstruct the pipeline along a new route, increasing its size and capacity, creating the ability to transport tar sands oil from Canada. Enbridge has released no plans for cleanup of the original Line 3 and its many leaks, and no laws in the state of Minnesota require it to do so. The original Line 3 pipeline cuts through the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations. Both the first and second Line 3 pipelines cut straight through the wetlands and wild rice growth that are sacred to the Anishinaabe people. In fact, treaties with the U.S. government in both 1842 and 1855 promised the Anishinaabe people the rights to hunt, fish, and gather from this territory of theirs. With the oil leaks and spills we know will follow this new pipeline construction, all of these ways of life are threatened.
Enbridge began constructing the new Line 3 in late November 2020 immediately following state and federal permitting of the pipeline. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, environmental groups, and the Department of Commerce of Minnesota are all involved in litigation against the pipeline, filed in December. For reliable, updated information on the pipeline resistance, see this Medium article. Only one tribal government out of the five in the immediate area of the pipeline, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, reached a financial settlement with Enbridge for the construction of the pipeline through their territory. However, Winona La Duke’s organization, Honor the Earth, reports that the Fond du Lac Band’s “agreement” misrepresents the situation the tribe faces.
Since the election in November, communities around KXL, DAPL, and Line 3 have looked to the Biden administration to continue acting on its promises for progressive environmental governance. KXL opponents have had the first victory. In North Dakota where the Dakota Access pipeline transports oil across Sioux treaty area, leaders from four different Sioux tribes sent a letter to President Biden asking him to shut down DAPL. Over in Minnesota, as Enbridge burrows under the Mississippi, water protectors call on President Biden and his nominated secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) to cancel permits for Line 3 as well. While a presidential decision can kill a pipeline for the remainder of a presidency, in these struggles only one thing is for sure: The protests, led by Indigenous water protectors around the country, only grow bigger with each new pipeline.
Here are links for further involvement in the Enbridge Line 3 resistance.
The Bloomberg Green Festival 2020 was a 5-day immersive experience featuring global voices and proprietary insight.
The Bloomberg Green Festival was organized to be a true thought leadership experience operating at the crossroads of sustainability, design, culture, food, technology, science, politics and entertainment. Built to foster solutions-oriented conversations, the five-day festival featured a mix of panels, presentations, fireside chats, and interactive elements. Focused on core issues of climate action, the Green Festival is a celebration of the thinkers, scientists and practitioners leading the way in the climate era.
In Climate Reality’s Putting Justice and Human Rights Firstin the US breakout session, you can hear directly from climate and environmental justice leaders to better understand the history of injustice in the United States and the way forward in the fight for climate and social justice.
Tune in to hear from Climate Reality board member Catherine Coleman Flowers, Dr. Robert D. Bullard, Angelo Logan, and Julian Brave NoiseCat!
Climate Speaks is presented by the Climate Museum and the NYC Department of Education Office of Sustainability. The museum would like to give special thanks to Urban Word NYC, The New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the DreamYard Project, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens, and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
David Beats Goliath
Wanhua Chemical Withdraws Project in St. James Parish Victory for grassroots groups standing up for health and property values
(Convent, Louisiana) — In capitulation to the power of local opposition, Wanhua Chemical has formally withdrawn its land use application to build a $1 billion dollar facility in St. James Parish. Opponents’ appeal and law suit slowed the project, making the Chinese owned company vulnerable to economic changes and additional scrutiny. “This is a victory for all of us in St. James Parish,” said Sharon Lavigne, President of RISE St. James, a group that has long opposed construction on grounds that it would endanger parish residents and reduce property values. “We aren’t just going to sit back and accept that it’s open season for industry to build in St. James Parish. We are ready to fight, and next up is Formosa.”
Legal challenges to the Wanhua project – including an appeal of the land use decision and an open meetings law suit – were filed by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of clients Genevieve Butler, Pastor Harry Joseph and the organizations RISE St. James and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “I’m glad that Wanhua is gone,” said Pastor Joseph. “They were coming with all kind of sneakiness and our parish might have been in trouble. I am glad that the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic gave the Parish Council an idea of some of the problems. We don’t have to worry about Wanhua and hopefully with Formosa, they will withdraw their plans.”
The project raised concerns about the proposed emissions in the parish. “I am happy with these results,” said Eve Butler, a resident of St. James. “We hope that before anything else is let in we can have an environmental impact statement in the parish.”
Wanhua had requested help with tariff exemptions from Senator Bill Cassidy, whose office had ongoing communication with Wanhua representatives. Wanhua’s announcement today came after months of doublespeak by company representatives. The company now plans to build its facility in a different part of the U.S., contradicting its public claim that tariffs were the reason for cancelling the project. Company reports also showed that Wanhua is owned by the Chinese government despite statements to the parish government denying that fact. The company’s promise of local jobs was belied by job ads requiring residence in Houston and Baton Rouge. “St. James Parish officials were told half-truths and evasions by a big foreign company that wanted to come here and use our state as its dumping ground,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “It was ordinary people who spotted the bad deal and stopped it. Today Wanhua, tomorrow Formosa.”
In June, the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic filed the appeal of the parish planning commission’s approval of Wanhua. The project crumbled during the delay, after the Parish Council voted unanimously on the appeal to remand the approval back to the Planning Commission. In the appeal, the petitioners opposed construction of Wanhua because of the hazardous air pollutants, the unfair concentration of polluting industry in the parish’s African American districts and the resulting destruction of property values. Wanhua planned to have the chemical phosgene on site, a toxic substance used for chemical warfare in World War I and for which there is no safe level of exposure. Tariff exemptions were critical to the project, as Wanhua planned to build most of the facility in China and import it and assemble it in St. James.
Today’s announcement came as welcome news to Wanhua’s nearest neighbors. “My great-great-great-great grandmother came out of slavery and bought my family’s land,” said Barbara Washington of RISE whose home is near the proposed site. “Our hard work has paid off. We will not stop til all those industries who want to come in here change their plans. We are tired of being sick. We refuse to be sick anymore. Don’t even try to come into St. James. We will not allow it.”
RISE St. James is a faith based organization fighting for the removal of harmful petrochemicals in the land, air, water and bodies, of the people, of St. James Parish.
Louisiana Bucket Brigade uses grassroots action to support communities impacted by the petrochemical industry and hasten the transition from fossil fuels.
Strike for Climate! The Center for Earth Ethics will be among the many participating in the September 20th Climate Strike in New York City. This landmark action will happen three days before the UN Climate Summit. Young people and adults will strike together all across the US and the world to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis.
The Center for Earth Ethics team stands with the Union Theological Seminary community marching for climate justice. We will meet at UTS in the morning before the march, in connection with students, faculty and staff along with members of the Ecological Caucus and travel together to Foley Square.
“We must do right by the Earth.
We cannot deprive the coming generations of the source of life.
I strike with the youth in solidarity with all our relations.”
-Davis Ogima Logan Union Theological Seminary student,
CEE Field Ed 2019, member of the Ecological Caucus
Please join CEE Director Karenna Gore at Temple Emanu-El
for a special Friday evening service
on the occasion of climate week and for our Earth.
September 20th at 6 pm following the Climate Strike
The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center
One East Sixty-Fifth Street, New York, NY
Climate Week in NYC has served as a dedicated time of convergence for all those working for the benefit of our earth and all those relying on us to provide conditions for clean air and clean water for generations to come.
As a pre-cursor to Climate Week, Karenna will join the Temple Emanu-El community’s Shabbat services to discuss our moral and religions obligations of protecting the earth.
“One generation goes and another generation comes, but the Earth remains forever” – Ecclesiastes 1:4
MORE EVENTS in honor of CLIMATE WEEK…
Social Good Summit
92nd Street Y, NYC
Sep 22, 2019
Catherine Flowers joins engineers, scientists, artists, chefs, policy advisers, media figures and youth climate leadership to address issues of climate protection, conservation and change.
Choose Us – Youth Climate Strike Demands Solutions & Action Now!
Sep 23 at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Join us for an evening of conversation with youth climate leaders to learn how to move their demands forward with the urgency required by the global climate crisis. The New York Society for Ethical Culture
Most content originally published by ARTivism Virginia and Virginians for Justice!
On May, 17, 2019 Virginians and allies from the region walked with Union Hill to demand environmental justice and a stop to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines. They were joined by William Barber III and Karenna Gore of the Center for Earth Ethics. Returning to the route across the Robert E. Lee Bridge into Richmond traveled by civil rights advocates 51 years ago during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic Poor People’s Campaign march to Washington D.C., hundreds called for an end to environmental racism and new fossil fuel infrastructure that threatens our ability to protect our homes, our water, and our children’s future.
“We’re not here by accident. Every single one of us is here for a reason. We are all gathered together for a reason. We hold these truths to be self-evident. We will treat each other with equal dignity and justice. We will make democratic self-government work. And we will live responsibly on this planet – it’s a sacred place.” – CEE Director Karenna Gore.
“This struggle is going to have global significance…
1968, Dr. King, in true prophetic form declared that we have in our lifetime an opportunity to avoid a natural disaster of grand design and to create a new spirit of economic and social harmony. An opportunity to write a luminous moral chapter in American history – if we only choose.” – William Barber III
Jessica Sims of Sierra Club Virginia Chapter led the collaboration of dozens of Virginia environmental and grassroots organizations, including the Virginia Poor People’s Campaign. Musical support was provided by the SUN SiNG Collective of ARTivism Virginia.
Hand in hand, ART and ACTIVISM stoke our imaginations and remind us of our creative, beautiful, renewing, and resilient capacity for change.
Featured here is singer, BJ Brown and speakers Queen Shabazz, Genesis Chapman, Karenna Gore, William Barber II, and Marie Gillespie. Other speakers for this event included: Beth Roach, Pastor Paul Wilson, Evelyn Dent, Lakshmi Fjord, Richard Walker, Andrew Tyler, Swami Dayananda, John Laury, Andrea Miller, Travis Williams and Chad Oba. Other ARTivists included All the Saints Theater, Lilly Bechtel, Tom Burkett, Tom Elliott, Kay Ferguson, Gabe Gavin, DeRon Lark, Jameson Price, Mara Eve Robbins, Graham Smith-White, Laney Sullivan, Siva Stephen Fiske and Joshua Vana.
Many Thanks to ARTivism Virginia – for capturing Walk with Me:
“To the River” No Pipeline Anthem written by Joshua Vana, arranged, performed by the SUN SiNG collective . “To the River” was recorded and filmed along the MVP & ACP fracked gas pipeline routes in areas of devastation using the Sun Bus and videographer, Sarah Hazlegrove.
Herring, Stand with Appalachia: No Mountain Valley Pipeline
May 18th, activists and Artivists also gathered in Leesburg, VA, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s hometown, to ask Herring to stay on the side of the people and clean water.
“We request that Mark Herring
1) halt work on Mountain Valley Pipeline,
2) pursue his lawsuit against MVP to its fullest and refuse to settle the case for petty fines,
3) and affirm the state’s authority to revoke the 401 water quality certification that it granted.”
Speakers included Del. Sam Rasoul, Del. Chris Hurst, Del. Elizabeth Guzman and Professor Emily Hammond, George Washington Law.
The event included music by Rachel Eddy and the SUN SiNG Collective, including Joshua Vana, Bj Brown, and Graham Smith-White. And also featured CEE’s Karenna Gore, and Rev. Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus.