We’ll Always Have Paris: Reflections from COP21

By Sarah Ganong, a New Haven-based climate activist

sarah-ganongBy the time you’re reading this, I’ll have been home from the COP21 climate talks in Paris for about six weeks. I attended the conference as an NGO observer, spending long days in the former-airport-turned-conference space running between meetings, negotiation sessions, press conferences, and approved “actions.” The 40,000+ attendees from nation-states, non-profits, universities, and, yes, the fossil fuel industry, came together for two intense weeks with the same goal—to leave with a global agreement to fight climate change, helped along by the four tons of free trade chocolate one environmental group distributed throughout the venue.

But Paris produced what 20 previous conferences did not—a global agreement which seems set up for success. The major takeaway from COP21 is the coalescing around 1.5 degrees C of warming, rather than 2 degrees, providing climate finance to vulnerable countries, and a process to evaluate and ratchet up emissions reduction pledges.

The theme of ending the reign of fossil fuels was central, from divestment actions to the planning for a global shutdown of fossil fuel infrastructure in May 2016. Keeping 80% of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground is essential if we’re going to come anywhere near meeting COP21 targets. In Connecticut, the battle is over the build-out of natural gas infrastructure, which will lock us into a fossil-dependent future for years to come. And on the national scale, ending fossil fuel subsidies must be a major priority—coal, in particular, wouldn’t be a viable choice without taxpayer dollars propping it up.

So we leave Paris with a lot of work left to do, but with knowledge of what lies before us. For me, the biggest victory from COP21 are the relationships I formed with activists from Brazil to Switzerland. President Obama called the Paris Agreement the “best chance we have” to save the planet. I disagree. The international process has been happening nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and in that time we’ve seen global emissions rise by 60%. We can’t wait on our governments anymore. The true hope lies with the people. We’re ready.

New Haven Energy Task Force News

by Paula Panzarella, ETF

The push for affordable solar energy in the New Haven area has gotten the attention from various companies and organizations. PosiGen, Grid Alternatives and SolarizeCT all offer programs that will help people get solar panels and greatly lower their electric bills.

PosiGen, a solar installation company that specifically includes low- to medium-income homeowners in their target group, will be running a campaign in New Haven starting mid-January. PosiGen’s service includes a free energy audit. PosiGen recently started a campaign in Bridgeport, and has signed up close to 170 homes there, 50 percent of them low- to medium-income. The press conference announcing the beginning of its campaign in New Haven is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Neighborhood Housing Services in Building #3 of 333 Sherman Ave., New Haven. Please call Kathy Fay for details at (475) 227-0540.

Grid Alternatives has met with the New Haven Energy Task Force and plans to come here in the spring. The City of New Haven is currently reviewing the Solarize New Haven proposal and, once approved, its campaign will also take off in our city.

The New Haven Energy Task Force supports these campaigns and will help with their outreach efforts. These are exciting opportunities to bring solar power to New Haven residents, particularly those who may think that solar is out of their reach due to financial constraints.

We do not specifically endorse any one company’s services compared to the services of any other installer. Interested residents should get quotes from alternative installers to compare service and prices. Before you sign any contract make sure the company answers your questions and explains the process so you know what to expect. Members of the Energy Task Force are available to answer questions about solar that residents may have. Please call me at (203) 562-2798 if you are interested in the process we went through when our solar panels were installed.

Other news: The City of New Haven has officially re-instituted the Environmental Advisory Council. Its first meeting will be in January, the date has yet to be announced. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for more information or sign up for free email updates on this page.

Fast Against Fracking

by Melinda Tuhus, environmental activist and journalist

The bad news is that fracked gas pipelines exist and more are proposed all over the country. The good news is the same, meaning the front lines of the battle are everywhere, involving thousands of people – property owners, students, climate activists. Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) was born in July 2014 when a group sat in and was arrested in D.C. at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a quasi-governmental agency (funded by the industries that it regulates) that approves gas infrastructure, including interstate pipelines, storage facilities, compressor stations and super-high polluting liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. We have done three multi-day actions at FERC in the past year. From September 8-25, a dozen members of BXE conducted an 18-day, water-only fast in front of FERC headquarters, demanding No New Permits.

Why a fast? Despite opponents attending meetings, speaking at public hearings, filing comments on dockets of proposed pipelines, carrying out civil disobedience in which hundreds of people have been arrested both at FERC and at various sites – all without having much of an impact – members of BXE determined that a fast would be a different kind of action and could reach the hearts of people in a way these other actions hadn’t. We distributed thousands of handouts and talked to hundreds of people, including FERC employees and even the chairman of the Commission.

I provided logistical support for the fast, including driving the van, writing flyers and contacting the media. We all stayed together at night at a D.C. church. And we didn’t just sit around at FERC – we were very active in supporting other issues and events, like the culmination of the NAACP’s Journey for Justice from Selma to D.C.; a major press conference to support Bernie Sanders’s Keep It in the Ground bill in the Senate to end permitting for fossil fuel extraction on public lands; a climate-conscious Yom Kippur service at the Lincoln Memorial and events related to Pope Francis’s visit to D.C.

No, FERC didn’t stop issuing permits – yet. But we feel we changed the tone of the conversation, solidified our commitment to stopping fracked gas and its infrastructure, and mutually expanded our connections with many other groups like Black Lives Matter, faith-based communities, and climate justice workers around the country.

For more information about BXE or groups in CT working on this issue, email me at Melinda.tuhus2@gmail.com.

Capitalism vs. the Climate vs. Spectra Energy

by Dan Fischer, Capitalism vs. the Climate

Early in the morning of Nov. 16, Bernardo McLaughlin of Capitalism vs. the Climate (CvC) obstructed the start of the work for Spectra Energy, locking himself to equipment at a compressor station in Chaplin, CT that Spectra is expanding as part of a massive expansion of fracked gas pipeline infrastructure. Police removed and arrested McLaughlin after he had disrupted construction for nearly three hours.

“I placed my body here because we’re out of options. The political class has decided they can survive climate catastrophe and written the rest of us off as acceptable losses. Nobody is coming to save us. Our only hope is organized grassroots power and direct action,” said McLaughlin.

Spectra’s billion-dollar “AIM Project” creates an incentive for increased fracking, a dangerous method of extracting methane gas from shale fields. Spectra plans to build part of the pipeline, which carries highly-flammable gas, just one hundred feet from New York state’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, running the risk of catastrophic injury to tens of thousands of people. The engineer Paul Blanch has said that a disaster at this part of the pipeline could cause the release of more radioactive materials than were released in Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Federal Regulatory Commission has said that the Chaplin area construction would directly impact Mansfield Hollow State Park, twelve streams, two wetlands and habitat for state-protected species.

So far, activists have been arrested 66 times in the campaign against Spectra’s pipeline expansion. The actions have had an impact. Last week, dozens willing to risk arrest in West Roxbury, MA, arrived at a vacant construction site. Spectra had abruptly decided to pause construction in West Roxbury until the spring. Meanwhile, Spectra has been seeking $30,000 in damages from three protesters who nonviolently blocked construction in Burrillville, RI, in September. Activists see Spectra’s extreme responses as a scare tactic to deter future demonstrations and as an acknowledgment that the ongoing blockades and lock-downs are effectively disrupting the company’s construction plans.

You can help out with Bernardo’s legal costs at http://bit.ly/CVC-Action.

The Climate Stewardship Summit Nov. 5

The Climate Stewardship Summit sponsored by the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network will take place frmo 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford. Building on the moral vision articulated in the Pope’s encyclical, we will examine how we can build an integrated approach to seeking solutions.

Through an action oriented agenda, the Climate Stewardship Summit will promote the concept that we are “Standing on Holy Ground.” Speakers include celebrated climate activist Tim DeChristopher, Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP’s Enviromental & Climate Justice Program and Allan Johnson, Founder of Christians for the Mountains. Deacon Art Miller, featured in the Hartford Courant’s Hometown Heroes series for his work in the Black Lives Matter and Moral Monday CT movements, will be our  morning keynote speaker!

The Interreligious Eco-Justice Network is a faith-based environmental organization that works to inspire and empower religious communities in Connecticut to be  faithful stewards of the planet.

CT Green Party News

by Barbara Barry, Secretary, GPCT

The next SCC (State Central Committee) meeting of the GPCT will be Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Portland Waverly Center, 7 Waverly Ave., Portland.

Social time is from 6 to 6:30 p.m., meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. The estimated length of meeting is two hours.

Agenda includes review of November 3 election results of our GPCT municipal candidates; preparation for our 2016 petition drive for GPUS (Green Party of US) candidates for president, VP and U.S. Senate and the Congressional Districts where GPCT wish to run but will need to petition to acquire ballot access; results of our fundraiser Oct. 21, “The Organic Farm to Table” dinner at Wheeler’s Restaurant in Woodbridge with Jeff Cordulack, executive director of CT NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association).

Other agenda items: ongoing efforts to promote our 2015-2016 proposals to the CT Legislature; interactions with other organizations with similar values/concerns; other events, forums and activities by GPCT members, chapters, the GPCT itself; and GPCT interaction with the GPUS.

More information:  http://www.ctgreenparty.org or on Facebook.

PACE Presents ‘Wake Up, Connecticut’ Nov. 21

by Judi Friedman, People’s Action for Clean Energy

Saturday, Nov. 21, People’s Action for Clean Energy will present WAKE UP, CONNECTICUT, featuring Connecticut leaders who are successfully working on renewable energy investments; Connecticut clean energy legislation; solar community-building; and solar panel installation. The 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Lucas Hixson (MI), who has just returned from inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant. He will showcase the ongoing dangers that this accident still represents and compare it to present and possible US nuclear plant scenarios.

Beginning at 6 p.m., homemade Stromboli, desserts and beverages will be available for purchase, with opportunities to view exhibits and literature. After a brief meeting at 7 p.m., opened by former State Rep. and PACE President Timothy Bowles, awards to unique Connecticut leaders will include State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg; the leaders of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs; Bernard Zahren of Clean Feet Investors; Allied Printing; and Beyond Nuclear board member Lucas Hixson.

This timely and special free public event will conclude with evocative songs sung by beautiful Teryn Kuzma with bandura accompaniment.

The program will take place at the Hartford Friends Meeting House, 144 S. Quaker Lane, West Hartford. For more information, go to http://www.pace-cleanenergy.org or call (860) 693-4813.

 

So You Want to Be a Climate Negotiator?

by Sarah Ganong, Media Coordinator, CT Fund for the Environment

In December, world leaders will gather in Paris to negotiate a treaty addressing climate change.
But now, it’s your turn. Join 350 Connecticut for a mock climate negotiation where you get to make the rules. Will we be able to reduce carbon emissions in time to save the world?

The event will be held at the New Haven Friends Meetinghouse, 225 East Grand Ave., New Haven, on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.

Questions? Email sarah.ganong@gmail.com.

Greater New Haven Green Fund Accepting Applications for Funding

by Aaron Goode, GNH Green Fund

The Greater New Haven Green Fund is soliciting applications for funding up to $10,000, due Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m..

The GNH Green Fund solicits small and large grant applications once a year. An electronic version of the Cover Letter, Application, Budget, and Attachments should be sent to grants@gnhgreenfund.org. We plan to announce grant awards around February, 2016. Access the application at http://www.gnhgreenfund.org/small-and-large-grants.html.

Grant awardees for 2014 include:

Major grants:

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven: Best
Practices for Residential Storm Management

Connecticut Fund for the Environment: West River Green
Infrastructure Project

URI: Community Planning for Greenspace

Small grants:

Quinnipiac University: Surveying the
Quinnipiac River #3

Ecoworks: Creative Reuse for Art Supplies

Micro grants:

NH/Leon Sister City Project: healthy climate campaign
West River Watershed Partnership: West River Water
Festival

NH Land Trust: Field of Greens Community Garden

NH Festivals: KenshoSeed, microgreens

Stevens Community Garden

New Haven Bioregional Group: Jonathan Bates Reedible
Forest Gardening, Speaker Series

City of New Haven: Youth at Work bicycles

Hill Regional School: Panther Garden Club

Our mailing address is GNH Green Fund, GNH Green Fund at The Grove, 760 Chapel St., New Haven, CT  06510

The telephone number is (203) 936-8136. Please help spread the word about this opportunity. If you have any questions e-mail Aaron Goode at aaron.goode@gnhgreenfund.org.

Say NO! to Spectra Energy’s Fracked-Gas Pipeline Expansion

by Dan Fischer, Capitalism vs. the Climate

vic-lancia-spectraNorth Windham, CT —  In celebration of his 75th birthday today, Middletown resident Vic Lancia locked himself to two giant “birthday cakes” — actually concrete-filled barrels decorated with candles and frosting — on the sole road leading up to a site where Spectra Energy stores construction equipment and materials for use across Connecticut. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports posted at capitalismvsclimate.org confirm what local residents have seen: Spectra trucks regularly using the facility to expand fracking infrastructure.

By blocking Spectra workers from accessing the site, Vic aimed to disrupt Spectra’s ongoing construction of its “AIM Project,” a billion-dollar fracked-gas pipeline expansion affecting communities across the state.

“It’s simple,” Vic explained. “Capitalism and the burning of fossil fuels are destroying our beloved and beautiful planet, the habitat for all humanity and life, all for profit and convenience. Isn’t it time to resist? Do we not care for our children, the generations beyond our lives, and for life itself?”

After blocking the entrance to the site for over two hours, Vic negotiated with the police and unlocked. Vic wasn’t arrested, and he got to keep the concrete “birthday cakes.”

Vic is a member of Capitalism vs. the Climate, a horizontally-organized, Connecticut-based group that takes direct action against the root causes of the climate crisis. About ten other members and supporters joined Vic, sharing chocolate cake and waving balloons. Beneath the festivities, however, they expressed outrage at Spectra’s pipeline expansion.

“Spectra’s pipeline expansion is catastrophic in many ways. It creates incentives for fracking in the shale fields. It transports highly flammable gas just one-hundred feet from a nuclear power plant in New York, potentially endangering tens of millions of people. It accelerates global warming, since fracked gas has an even higher impact on the climate than coal does,” said Willimantic resident Roger Benham.

Please share the Facebook meme: //on.fb.me/1WGLJFV

Donate to cover “cake” ingredient costs: bit.ly/CVC-Action

Photos at capitalismvsclimate.org.

After the People’s Climate March: What’s Next for Connecticut Activists?

Sunday, January 18, 2015, at 2 pm there will be a panel followed by a discussion period. We want to hear from YOU! Rescheduled from December!

Presenters:
Jeremy Brecher, Labor Network for Sustainability
Terri Eickel, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network
Camilla Ibanez, Deep Roots United Front/Occupy Sandy
Jen Siskind, Food & Water Watch
Elaine Ward, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice
Diane Lentakis, 350.org CT and Sierra Club
Dan Fischer, Capitalism v. Climate

Connecticut sent over a thousand marchers to NYC in September and many of us are wondering what next? Before it’s too late we must prepare to face:

  • a polluting coal fired plant;
  • the push for more fracked gas pipelines;
  • the continuing danger of nuclear power; and
  • the massive struggle to convert to 100% renewable
    energy?

Come hear climate justice leaders and voice your own vision of the kind of the movement we need to build. Sunday, January 18, 2015, 2 p.m. in “Semesters“ hall, Student Center, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain (http://web.ccsu.edu/campusmap/.)

For more info: Chris, (860) 478-5300.
Sponsored by 350CT.org

Rising Tide Member Found Not Guilty for May 27 Vermont Gas Protest

by Sara Sullivan, Rising Tide Vermont, Nov. 20

The trial of Henry Harris, charged with trespassing at Vermont Gas Systems’ (VGS) headquarters in South Burlington on May 27, ended today with a not guilty verdict. Harris and other members of Rising Tide Vermont blockaded the main entrance of VGS and dropped a massive banner from the roof, demanding the company immediately cancel its plans to build the fracked gas pipeline.

Harris, a volunteer organizer with Rising Tide Vermont, said, “Today, the court ruled in my favor because the jury recognized Vermont Gas and the state of Vermont had no basis in their charges against me. The state’s prosecutor, with pressure from VGS and the Shumlin administration, was attempting to stifle future protests against the fracked gas pipeline and Shumlin’s hypocritical climate and energy policies.”

Since the May 27 protest, hundreds of Vermonters have taken part in rallies, blockades, and an occupation of the Governor’s office to demand an end to the pipeline project. The 64 activists who were arrested at the occupation on Oct. 27 are also facing charges of trespass. “We asked the Governor to revoke his support of the fracked gas pipeline,” said Stuart Blood, 63, an organizer with Keystone XL Resistance from Thetford Center, “and to recognize the need to ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure, because new fossil fuels move us in the wrong direction.”

Read the article at: http://vtdigger.org/2014/11/20/rising-tide-member-found-guilty-may-27-vermont-gas-protest.

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