The Power of Local Climate Action: Building a Sustainable Future One Community at a Time
The climate crisis is an issue that requires action at all levels. While most conversations are often focused on international agreements or national policy, it’s important to recognize the critical role that local and state-based climate work plays in building a more sustainable future. This is ever more important given the gridlock we face at the national level, with split control of the two houses of Congress.
Reasons why local and state-based climate work is effective:
- Communities and advocates on the ground know their areas better than anyone, which means they can help shape more impactful and targeted climate policies.
- Local and state-level policies and initiatives are the driving force behind broader national action on climate change. For example, rooftop solar and community solar started neighborhood by neighborhood, eventually catching on as a potent source of renewable energy. Counties, cities and states began to build out grid-scale projects, which helped build pressure on state and federal lawmakers to drive investment towards RD&D to lower cost and incentivize more solar, leading to the 30% federal tax credit we see today. It’s been a huge success–according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar added the most generating capacity to the grid for the past three consecutive years. In 2022, 50% of all new electric capacity added to the grid came from solar, the largest such share in history – but it all started at the neighborhood level!
- When a community works together to tackle a climate issue, there’s also the added benefit of immediate and tangible positive impacts on the environment and quality of life.
When it comes to making a big impact, here are local efforts from around the country you should know about:
New Yorkers Call on Policymakers to Pass the Climate, Jobs, Justice Package
New York Renews is a powerful coalition of over 350 NY-based environmental, justice, faith, labor, and community groups that has played a leading role in crafting and advancing climate policy in the state. In 2019, their efforts culminated in the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which is regarded as one of the most ambitious climate laws in the country. Today, New York Renews is calling on Governor Hochul and members of the New York State Senate and Assembly to implement the Climate, Jobs, and Justice Package (CJJP), a comprehensive plan to decarbonize New York, promote greater health and equity, ensure a fair transition for workers, and create a green economy that is accessible to all. Seventh Generation is supporting this coalition by taking out ads in newspapers around the state and mobilizing peer businesses committed to a safe, healthy future to take action.
Fighting for a Fossil Free California
In California, Fossil Free California, in collaboration with more than 120 organizations and a coalition of unions representing more than 470,000 workers, is leading the way in pushing for the passage of SB 252. This bill would require the two largest pension funds in the United States, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to divest from fossil fuels by 2030. With a combined value of over $700 billion, these pensions have immense financial leverage, and this proposed divestment of over $14 billion from fossil fuel companies would accelerate the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable future. By championing SB 252, Fossil Free California and its partners are demonstrating a bold commitment to climate action and paving the way for other states and nations to follow suit. Seventh Generation is supporting this coalition by helping to mobilize California-based B Corps businesses and other companies committed to ending the era of fossil fuels.
Now that you’ve learned about some notable local initiatives, here’s how you can start your climate action journey in your own community:
- Educate yourself on the issues - By reading this piece you’re already on your way! Look for resources and learn about how climate change is impacting your own community. At Seventh Generation we’ve compiled a host of educational blogs to help you get started on your journey.
- Join local environmental and climate justice groups - Identify the groups in your area already organizing the community around climate. Participate in their events and support their campaigns. Hint: If you live in New York state, check out New York Renews; if you're in California, consider getting involved with Fossil Free California.
- Advocate for policy changes - Work with community leaders to promote policies that prioritize the people and the planet and add your voice to existing calls to local policymakers.
- Spread awareness - Use social media to amplify your efforts and recruit community members to join.
By taking action on climate at the local level, you have the power to make a meaningful impact in your community. It all starts with you!