For Blog Action Day, focusing this year on climate change, I thought to do something a little different and take a look at climate action, and how it relates to climate policy and politics. So I talked with Ada Aroneanu, an organiser with 1Sky, a collaborative campaign bringing together many organisations so as to bring about “public demand for a clear, simple, specific national policy platform that would set America on the road to real solutions.”

I asked Ada how and when 1Sky came into being?

During 2007 several groups who were active on climate change at the local level came to realise that there was a need for a mouthpiece on the federal climate policy level, and that these groups involved in climate action lacked variety. 1Sky evolved out of the coming together of these local groups as well as new groups who haven’t been directly involved with climate change before then (faith, human rights, anti-poverty, etc).

This also coincided with other national events – the ‘Step It Up’ campaign, which formed in 2007, and the 2007 Power Shift in November which saw 6,000 youths lobbying Congress on 1Sky principals.

And what are these principles?

1Sky promotes 3 main principles –

  1. Creating green jobs – 5 million new green jobs focused on climate solutions and energy efficiency.
  2. GHG emissions reduction – at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  3. An end to coal – a moratorium on new coal plants

These principles are the prism through which 1Sky analyses policy.

My main interest was how on-the-ground actions might affect policy, so I asked Ada to tell me about some of their past actions and successes.

1Sky actions kicked off with the 2nd Step It Up action in November 07 which called for a 20% reduction by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (below 1990 levels). At the time these numbers were not in the public debate, but following this action they started to be commonly referred to.

Green Jobs Now – a call to create 5 million green jobs. A collaboration with Green for All and Al Gore’s “We” campaign (now Repower America), with about 700 events covering diverse locations – urban sprawl, coloured communities – across the country. This number – 5 million jobs – and the principles of this campaign were incorporated into Obama’s presidential campaign which was nearing its final stages before the elections.

Power Shift 09 brought 12,000 students to Washington. 6,000 went to campaign on the Hill (despite a freak snow storm). There was a lot of face time with politicians over that weekend.

When asked about 1Sky’s current focus Ada told me about two of their summer actions –

Business outreach where 1Sky volunteers contacted local businesses and encouraged them to call their local chambers of commerce and talk to them about their climate change policy; and direct lobbying, with visits to – and rallies at – regional offices of representatives before the vote on the Waxman-Markey bill in June.

Currently 1Sky are focusing on the 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action on October 24, getting their volunteers and mobilizers to participate. Following that they are shifting their focus to placing some pressure on President Obama, calling on him to make America a leader in clean energy. Pushing the president, which will be done alongside pushing senators, comes as – in Ada’s words – “we need to be putting pressure on both branches of the federal government to act at the executive/agency level as well as Senators to act through congress.”

[I believe this focus on the president might also prove to be important in encouraging him to take a more active role in the climate legislation, as he did with health care but only very little with the climate bills, something that many US climate campaigners and analysts have noted.] 

Finally, as the main action in US domestic climate politics at the moment is the bill currently making its way through the Senate, I wondered how 1Sky were dealing with it.

“As it is currently at the committee level, we are working in the states of the relevant committee members. Once it reaches the floor, hopefully before Copenhagen, we will work across the entire country.”

With over 2,000 Climate Precinct Captains across the country, and 40 organisers, mobilizing communities on the ground, 1Sky joins million of people the world over in demanding bold climate action from their leaders.

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