Our Revolution Baltimore’s Climate Change Meeting

Summer 2018 Shasta-Trinity National Forest California. NYTimes

Saturday, I attended, with over 30 other activists, Our Revolution Baltimore’s February 16 meeting at the Waverly Library in central Baltimore – just a few blocks east of Johns Hopkins University’s main campus. The Baltimore Chapter convenes on either the third Saturday or Sunday of each month.

The bulk of the meeting consisted of a panel discussion on climate change and it’s hard to imagine a timelier or more important issue as today’s New York Times Magazine’s front page story Time to Panic sets out.

OR Baltimore hosted four leaders in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – David Smedick, Campaign and Policy Director for Sierra Club Maryland, Senowa Mize-Fox, an expert on climate justice and just transitions, Baltimore City Councilmember Zeke Cohen, and Greg Wilson, from the Sunrise Movement’s Baltimore Hub. Each panelist spoke in turn and then took audience questions.

Despite the variety of represented organizations, three inter-related themes emerged over which there was broad agreement: 1) Poor people and people of color in the United States and around the world are suffering the worst impacts of climate change. 2) Therefore, climate change activists must recognize the intersectionality of environmental degradation and inequality and commit to ending both. 3) The Green New Deal is the “real deal” and would represent a major step forward.

When an audience member asked about the effectiveness of a carbon tax, there was disagreement. The Sierra Club’s David Smedick agreed that we need to put a price on GHG – either through a consumption tax or a cap and trade system. Much of the revenue generated should be allocated to the communities most affected, he argued.

By contrast, Senowa Mize-Fox argued powerfully that ending all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry should be take precedence over any carbon pricing schemes. Moreover, she noted that using market mechanisms like higher prices to reduce consumption is the ultimate paradox since it market-oriented economies created the climate crisis in the first place. Ultimately and soon, Ms. Fox noted, we must end the use of fossil fuels completely.

There may be some dispute over the best strategies to pursue in order to reach zero-emissions. But there is unanimity among climate experts that we must be well on our way to achieving this goal within a decade if we are to have any hope of preserving on earth a reasonable level of biodiversity and the ability to maintain a decent quality of life for billions of people

Next Steps

Under the leadership of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, activists will be lobbying state legislators Monday February 18 in Annapolis. If you would like to join them, please fill out this Action Network form. A CCAN organizer will be in Rm 145 in the House of Delegates Building 6 Bladen St. at 5 pm to greet attendees and with further instructions.

Join the Sunrise Movement for actions to support the Green New Deal. Visit your Senators’ local offices February 18-22 for a #SenateSprint. Join Sunrise Movement in DC on February 25 to escalate on Mitch McConnell. Details and sign up here.

If you are interested in joining an Our Revolution Baltimore working group to begin to formulate what a Green New Deal would look like locally, please email ormdbaltimore@gmail.com.

OR Baltimore’s next Chapter meeting is scheduled from 12:30 – 2:30 pm Sunday March 17 at the Waverly Library, 400 East 33rd Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. The topic will be education and the Kirwin Commission recommendations.

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