CIPL has started off 2020 with a climate bang! The 2020s is our best – and final – decade to avert the worst of climate change effects, and the faith community is responding in kind.
CIPL staff presented to several congregations in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Mateo, Watts, and Menlo Park on a variety of issues, including climate justice, transportation electrification, climate activism, carbon neutrality for houses of worship, and building faith advocacy.
In early February, CIPL hosted a group of Middlebury College students from Vermont for an “immersion week” demonstrating the faith/ecology nexus. Many of the students had taken a course from Bill McKibben, father of 350.org, who teaches at Middlebury. They came with a trained perspective of conservation and a systemic way of looking at issues.
The “Green Justice” event on February 5 was a highlight, exemplifying the power of community while delving deeply into the many justice issues related to climate change and sustainability. Held at Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church in Watts, folks from the faith, justice, green career, and education sectors stressed an over-arching concern – truly sustainable communities that include affordable housing. Two themes were repeated. One, systems management – that construction, housing, safety and sustainability don’t exist in a vacuum, but when change is proposed, it must be part of a larger discussion of how the greater “eco-system” will be affected. Two, there was great interest in community investment strategies – how residents of Watts can take ownership of employment, housing, and sustainability strategies so that improvements for the community do not mean money taken out or displacement of members.
Strong work on policy has already taken place in 2020. Some 2019 priority legislation that did not pass in 2019 have received even greater support for their success in 2020. These include AB 345 (Muratsuchi), that calls for the Department of Conservation to study and implement a health and safety buffer zone between oil and gas extraction sites and homes, schools, churches and other such areas. In a concerted effort to get AB 345 passed in the Assembly by January 31, CIPL sent out an alert that yielded more than 100 letters of support. AB 345 did pass the Assembly and is now making its way through the Senate, and statewide workshops on this issue will include attendees from the faith community.
Another set of legislation from 2019 is SB 54 and AB 1080, which will have California reduce plastic use by 75% by 2030. Again, CIPL and supporters are already attending in-district legislative meetings, signing petitions, and holding planning meetings aimed at the passage of these bills.
In addition to the above policy, there has been strong action on a number of initiatives in the last three months: banning natural gas in San Jose; Caltrans oversight; environmental justice action at the port of Stockton; fare-free transit for youth; and the push for greater public transit in heavily-traveled areas of the Golden State.