From the most recent issue of our magazine, Green American.
Green America: Leading on Climate
Wildfires, heat waves, and massive storms were just a few of the ways people across the globe experienced the climate crisis in 2021. Yet the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit fell far short of what is needed to keep global warming and its associated disasters in check. The US Senate failed to pass the Build Back Better Act, which would have provided $500 billion in government spending on clean energy and other climate solutions.
Yet youth and Indigenous leaders gave us reason to hope, as they put pressure on world leaders and corporations at COP26 and are a major reason progress was made on forests, methane, and climate finance at COP26.
The Clean Energy Future is Now
Solar and wind installations around the world are soaring. There are now 100,000 MW of solar installed nationwide, enough to power 20 million homes, and over 130,000 MW of wind, enough to power over 40 million homes.
Green America’s work helped drive this tremendous growth in renewable energy, with our Solar Catalyst thought leadership papers and Solar Circle network providing the blueprints for taking solar to scale. Our campaigns lead several of the largest corporate clean energy purchases ever. Our “No New Coal” campaign resulted in 15 coal-fire power plants not being constructed.
Moving Forward on Policy
Green America and our more than 250,000 activist followers are promoting the solutions we’ll need to ensure a livable planet for future generations. We’re mobilizing consumers, investors and businesses to support up to $500 billion in climate-related spending. We collected 165,000 comments from Green Americans to support stricter methane regulations by the EPA. We’re working to enact regulations in the US and Europe to get banks to end their financing of fossil fuels. And, we’re working to ensure that the upcoming Farm Bill focuses on building regenerative agriculture while supporting Black, Indigenous, women, young and small-scale farmers.
In the financial world, our work with allies resulted in the Department of Labor proposing that employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k) plans be allowed to take the economic impacts of climate change into account when selecting investments.
Changing the Way America Does Business
While we work on better climate policy, Green America has never waited for the government to create the change we need. Here’s where we’re going with our climate programs:
Green America’s Hang Up on Fossil Fuels campaign has already resulted in major progress, with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile making several of the largest corporate purchases of clean energy ever. We are building on this campaign to:
- Get all telecom companies to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025. Plus, we’ll ensure that as telecom companies announce “net zero” goals for all their emissions they are not using dubious carbon offsets and vague commitments in place of meaningful climate emissions reductions.
- Ensure that as the big three telecoms adopt renewable energy, the benefits of those changes go to communities and workers, especially people of color.
HFC refrigerants are a major driver of the climate crisis with up to thousands of times the global warming potential of CO2. Our Cool It campaign, with the Environmental Investigation Agency, mobilized over 100,000 consumers and shareholders and has already resulted in a commitment from Walmart to move on from HFCs by 2040. We’ll keep the pressure on, since its goals and timeline are still weak. This year we will:
- Continue to build shareholder pressure on Walmart and other major grocers to urge them to move faster on switching to climate-friendly refrigerants.
- Increase public pressure on the laggards—on social media and in traditional news outlets.
- Highlight the environmental justice benefits of switching from HFCs to lower-impact refrigerants.
Green America is a leader in promoting regenerative agriculture that builds soil health and sequesters carbon. Regenerative agriculture can transform agriculture from a major polluter to a vital climate solution. Working with several of the largest food companies and farmers across the country, we are working to transition 90% of North America’s food and agriculture acres to the regenerative pathway by 2030. We are also leading the way in getting all Americans involved in regenerative practices through Climate Victory Gardens in their yards and communities. This year we will:
- Launch a Soil Carbon Initiative label for farms and food companies that verifies progress toward regenerative agriculture goals. This will be a game-changer for agriculture, communities, and the climate!
- Grow the number of registered Climate Victory Gardens from 15,000 to 20,000 and reach millions of Americans with tools they need to launch a regenerative garden of their own.
Green America has been mobilizing investors to support a green economy for decades. Our Climate Safe Lending Network works with banks, investors, nonprofits, regulators and others to bring bank lending in line with the Paris Agreement. Green America is mobilizing our members to pressure the largest banks to stop financing fossil fuels.
This year we will:
- Work with leading corporations to use their relationships with major banks to get those banks to end their financing of the climate crisis.
- Work with our nonprofit ally As You Sow, to mobilize employees to urge their employers to offer fossil-fuel free options in their retirement plans.
We can’t do it without you! When Green America calls on corporations to protect climate, people, and the planet, they listen to us because we have 250,000 people and 2,000 green businesses joining us in our calls to action. Thanks to you we’re making progress on climate and we look forward to further gains in 2022!