Chapter Chair Update
Despite the inspiring speeches, a declaration of “code red for humanity,” and 100,000 protesters in the streets of Glasgow urging immediate action to slow the climate crisis, the end results of the UN’s COP26 are disappointing. It was not realistic to think that one more climate conference would be enough to change the direction our world is headed, but I, for one, did look forward to seeing significant progress. How can our world leaders not understand the urgency by now?
One bright highlight is the Global Methane Pledge (GMP), which commits the European Union, the United States, and over one hundred other countries to reduce their methane (CH4) emissions by at least thirty percent of 2020 levels by 2030. Although the majority of greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane is eighty times more powerful in trapping heat in the atmosphere; the IPCC estimates that it is the cause of one third of global warming in modern times. Fortunately, methane breaks down much more quickly than CO2, in a decade compared to centuries, so efforts to reduce methane will show results much more quickly, and may limit rising global temperatures.
Methane is “natural” (read “fracked”) gas, and to reduce it, we must stop building new gas power plants and stop pipeline and gas well leaks. Sierra Club has been working towards these goals for years! President Biden has backed up the GMP by announcing tougher rules to reduce methane in the U.S. But the oil and gas industry is already out there with greenwashing efforts promoting “biogas” and “renewable natural gas” – that should set off warning bells! To learn more, check our Sierra Club’s blog, Methane’s Big Moment.
We cannot give up hope. We do have the solutions; we must find the will to make the changes needed. I find hope in the amazing work being done by our staff and members here in Connecticut. In this issue of the Quinnehtukqut you can read about some of this important work, such as the campaign to Save Remington Woods (see Stepping Forward) and the Shoreline group’s organizing to build support for climate adaptation as sea levels rise (see Climate Resiliency in Connecticut). And Sam reports on a potentially HUGE WIN, (see The Beginning of the End for Proposed Killingly Dirty Power Plant?) stopping the Killingly Energy Center from ever being built, a truly inspiring story of collaboration between dozens of groups in hundreds of actions over several years!
If we can do this, we can do anything. By working together and focusing on what is most important, we can avoid the worst, but time is short. As Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate has said, “You cannot adapt to extinction,” so let us resolve to work together and fight even harder in the coming year, for our children, for our world.
Wishing you and yours - Happy Holidays!
P.S. SOMETHING FOR YOU – A Holiday Gift for Those Who Believe in Our World: Mindfulness Exercises for Self-Care and Working with Challenging Emotions. We are partnering with the Copper Beech Institute to offer this free workshop on December 8 at noon. Take a little time for yourself – Register here!
Susan Eastwood is Chapter Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.