Maintaining Hope: A Monthly Sampling of Good News on Climate

If you’re tuned in to the climate conversation, news coverage of this dialogue may cause you to experience symptoms like “acute exacerbation of chronic nonsense brought on by climate change deniers”, or many other physical, mental and emotional manifestations of frustration that more is not being done to address climate change.

But fret not – there may a prescription for the symptoms of hopelessness we inadvertently develop while trying to stay informed. That prescription is to simply tune into the positive movement-building taking place, to combat despair and frustration with what makes us feel hopeful. We cannot allow ourselves tune out and shut down, because when we stuff our frustrations, we also tune out our ability to effectively promote the solutions. Doctor’s orders!

With that in mind, here are some great examples of recent climate action. Feel free to read and re-read whenever hopelessness occurs.

  • One of the world’s top newspapers put climate change front and center. The Guardian, the third most widely read newspaper in the world, has made climate change the key focus of its editorial agenda and created its very own climate change campaign (unlike a certain local newspaper that won’t consider it an editorial priority among many.) The Guardian’s editor made the decision to spend his last year on the job harnessing the newspaper’s best resources to describe climate change and what we can do about it.KeepItInTheGroundThe newspaper’s “Keep it in the Ground” campaign provides numerous, daily stories in all sections of the paper to educate readers and encourage them to sign a petition asking the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels. Prior to creating the campaign, The Guardian Media Group itself divested its £800m fund from fossil fuels, showing they walk the walk just as much as they talk it or print it. A regular podcast also accompanies the campaign, providing a behind-the-scenes perspective on how the campaign unfolds. What’s most revolutionary about this campaign is that The Guardian is utilizing its platform to show other newspapers across the globe that climate change is not only a story of the environmental beat, but rather a story worthy of coverage throughout the paper. Climate change will affect everything from our economy, to politics, food and water sources, tourism – our very way of life – so why shouldn’t newspapers report on it accordingly? To date, over 180,000 readers have signed on to the campaign.
  • A climate lawsuit filed by local youth receives a historic hearing that could force Oregon to do more to protect our atmosphere. Earlier this month, in front of a packed courtroom and national news media, a Lane County Circuit Court judge heard oral arguments in a climate change case filed by two youth from Eugene. The suit alleges that the Governor of Oregon and state government are failing their generation by not doing more to reduce climate pollution. More than 400 students and individuals from across the state flooded the courtroom, overflow room and participated in events outside the courthouse.

    Our Children’s Trust co-plaintiff, Kelsey Juliana, with OEC’s Climate Communications & Outreach Manager, Devon Downeysmith.

    This case is but one of several around the country brought on by youth to secure their legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. If the judge rules in the girls’ favor, the state of Oregon would be forced to take a more aggressive stance to tackle climate pollution. The case would also strengthen the arguments of other cases around the country. Read more about this historic case on the Renew Oregon blog. Regardless of how the judge rules, we should all feel inspired by the actions of these young women. The media attention and public awareness generated as a result of the suit showcase the broad and enthusiastic support for climate action. Oregon Law professor, Mary Wood, has been instrumental in arguing “atmospheric trust litigation”, the concept that the government has a legal obligation to preserve public trust resources and manage them for the benefit of generations today and tomorrow. Her historic work highlights the role of the public trust doctrine and its critical importance of local legal actions to secure science-based climate recovery planning. Learn more about Mary Wood’s work on climate here.

  •  The world’s two largest emitters of climate pollution unite to lead on reducing emissions. Last November, the US and China made a joint announcement on climate change targets. Earlier this month, Portland State University’s Confucius Institute and the (add name of the sister city organization) hosted its 5th annual US-China Economic Forum and devoted the event entirely to exploring how this new climate agreement will impact the Pacific Northwest and create potential new business opportunities.
    Deputy Chinese Consul General to San Francisco, Zha Liyou, speaks on the US-China climate agreement.

    Deputy Chinese Consul General to San Francisco, Zha Liyou, speaks on the US-China climate agreement.

    The forum offered unique perspectives on how the US-China Climate Agreement can strengthen the relationship between the two nations, as well as grow trade and investment in clean economy businesses, such as Oregon’s Brammo motors (an all electric motorcycle company that has sold vehicles to the Hong Kong police force) resulting in economic prosperity for both nations. “In Oregon, we have to take climate change seriously. We’re in the midst of it,” noted Angus Duncan of the Oregon Global Warming Commission. “Climate change is not only a challenge for Oregon, it’s for all the world. And we must lead. The power of example is limitless,” said Liyou Zha, Deputy General Consul of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco. This event was powerful in highlighting that if the world’s two largest climate polluters can lead on climate, others will surely follow.

There’s more: Consider the thousands of events around the world celebrating the 45th anniversary of Earth Day – many of them focused on climate change (120+ events took place in Oregon alone.) Consider the packed carbon pricing hearing held earlier this month the Oregon state legislature. Consider the fact that renewables just overtook fossil fuels with the world adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. There are so many reasons – local, regional, national and worldwide – why we can remain hopeful about our ability to meaningfully address climate change.

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