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With Earth at “Global Tipping Point,” NOVA Climate Coalition Urges Virginia Legislators to Take Action Commensurate with the Threat

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Check out the following letter from the NOVA Climate Coalition to Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn, which is very much on point, particularly in light of stories like Climate crisis pushing Earth to a ‘global tipping point,’ researchers say and ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks.

Dear Eileen:

I’m sending you a letter developed by the Executive Committee of the NOVA Climate Coalition, an alliance of local climate and progressive groups representing several thousand members. We want to begin by offering our warm congratulations on your recent personal electoral victory, election to lead the Dem House Caucus –and exciting double first! We are also excited that the Equal Rights Amendment, gun control, voting rights, and LGBTQ concerns have already been announced as priority issues for the 2020 legislative session.

However, the top priority must be transitioning our commonwealth to clean energy.  Unless climate change is quickly addressed at every level of government, we will soon find ourselves living on a planet so inhospitable to well-ordered human life that other rights will seem relatively insignificant–and likely prove impossible to maintain. We have time to solve other urgent goals, but the window of opportunity for addressing climate change is rapidly closing.

Of course, Virginia Democrats cannot solve the global climate crisis alone. But as a result of flipping both houses, you are in the national spotlight, and you can exercise an outsized influence on other states and our wider nation. So it’s time for VA Dems to provide needed leadership.  Furthermore, doing so will prove politically advantageous. Polls show even a strong majority of Republicans want decisive action, and the rising generation of voters is showing this both with their ballots and their bodies in the streets.

The time for enacting gradual goals is long past.  In October 2018, the IPCC warned we have 12 years (now 11) to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. In an update issued yesterday (11/25), the UN pronounced our situation “bleak,” saying global emissions must drop 7.6% each year, starting in 2020.* These grim, science-based requirements lead us to make three recommendations for your consideration as you develop climate policy for the upcoming legislative session:

1) We must have a quick conversion to renewables.  A plan such as Gov. Northam’s Executive Order 43 (9/16/19), which stipulates Virginia will produce 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% from carbon-free sources by 2050, is inadequate.  In comparison, Maryland recently (5/2019) passed legislation mandating 50% renewables by 2030; and Gov. Hogan has pledged to present a law in 2020 for 100% by 2040. Virginia Dems need to mandate a conversion schedule similar to Maryland’s.

2) Construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines must be immediately stopped.  Michael Town, Executive Director of LCV-VA, has rightly termed the former a “misguided, flawed, and environmentally reckless multi-billion-dollar” project, and the same is true of the MVP. If completed, these costly pipelines will likely nullify the benefits of other efforts to convert to renewables by committing our state to several decades of carbon and methane emissions. Both Gov. Northam and AG Herring can stop the construction. Legislators might tell them to now, and pass a resolution to this effect at the beginning of the session.

3) The excessive political influence–and attendant ill-advised policies and excessive profits–of Dominion and other Virginia fossil-fuel interests must be curtailed. Accordingly, political donations from state-regulated corporations must be legally banned.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Dave Kuebrich, on behalf of fellow Executive Committee members:

Kathie Hoekstra & Boyd Walker, 350 Alexandria; Helene Shore & Julie Kimmel, 350 Fairfax; Natalie Pien, 350 Loudoun;  Hannah Laub, CCAN Action Fund; Paula Clements, Climate Reality Project–NOVA Chapter; Molly Bakal, Earth Rise Indivisible; Tiziana Bottino, Greater Prince William Climate Action Network and Mothers Out Front-Woodbridge; Susan Beffel, Diana Smith & Gary Timm, Herndon-Reston Indivisible Science and Environment; Bobby Monacella, Mothers Out Front-Fairfax;  Blythe Merritt, NOVA Climate;  Meredith Haines & Susan Weltz, NOVA Climate Coalition; John Boyer & Dave Kuebrich, Our Revolution-Falls Church

*https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2019/11/26/the-energy-202-u-n-says-emissions-must-fall-by-7-6-percent-to-stop-worst-effects-of-climate-change/5ddc430a602ff1181f2640ed/