Sunflower Alliance is a Bay Area participant in the movement for Climate Justice. Climate Justice means addressing the threats of climate change through a “just transition” to an equitable, democratic and sustainable society freed from dependence on fossil fuels. Our goal is a society that doesn’t require unending growth in production and consumption to meet human needs and welfare. And, as unprecedented extinctions are already underway, we must address accelerating climate change in order to protect all living beings and the natural world that sustains us.
We want to build a safe and healthy Bay Area today and for succeeding generations. We especially support the rights to health and safety of vulnerable frontline communities up and down the California coast that are located close to refineries, ports and rail lines carrying fossil fuels. In the end, we know all of our communities are in danger because of the impact of the fossil fuel industry on our climate. Thus, we must drastically reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by transitioning to a new fossil-free future.
To achieve a just transition to a new economy with minimal reliance on fossil fuels, we call for:
Stopping the “Extreme Fossil Fuel” Economy
The immediate halt to the transport and refining of “extreme crudes” throughout the Bay Area. We oppose all current and proposed projects bringing fracked crude and Canadian tar sands to Bay Area refineries, and coal, petroleum coke (petcoke) and liquid natural gas to Bay Area ports. These “extreme crudes” and their by-products emit highly toxic materials and greenhouse gases at even higher levels than traditional fossil fuels. We call for complete bans on fracking and other extreme extraction methods in California, and on the export of coal and petcoke through our ports.
Rapid Transition to 100% Renewable Energy
Development of decentralized local and regional solar, wind and water energy. We need an energy system built and managed through a combination of strict government oversight, a statewide feed-in-tariff, and locally controlled Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs replacing the large-scale utility systems. We support CCA programs such as Marin Clean Energy and parallel CCAs under development in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Zero-Emission Transport: Safe and Healthy Streets
A rapid shift to clean public transportation. The majority of California GHG emissions are due to transportation. We must rapidly build an accessible and universally affordable mass transit system based on electric buses and rail. By2020, all new personal vehicles should be plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles with extended ranges. State incentive programs must support this transition, including home- and work-based electric charging stations. Cities must prioritize the construction of pedestrian-friendly streets, as well as protected bikeways and infrastructure to promote safe biking (“complete streets”).
Highest Standards of Building Energy Efficiency
Net zero energy buildings in new construction while retrofitting existing infrastructure. All new construction must be based on the highest standards for energy and resource efficiency (“passive houses”), while subsidized loans are provided to retrofit existing housing. We should aim for a goal of zero waste to be achieved through comprehensive recycling, composting and other programs to reduce and then eliminate toxic incineration and landfills.
Local & California-wide Organic Food Systems
Food production through regional and community organic food systems. Food production based on ecological community gardening and local, small-scale farming is required to reduce GHG emissions and pesticide and chemical fertilizer use associated with current factory farming of crops and animals. This will also heal the soil, which industrial farms have heavily damaged. We need to set timelines for transitions to 100% organic farming, replacement of fossil fuel-based agricultural equipment and installation of systems to maximize efficient use and recycling of agricultural water.
A Transparent Low-Carbon Funding Program
Local and regional initiatives will require increased public funding for climate jobs and building the future. Current California climate policy hinges on a cap and trade system that is non-transparent, damages frontline communities,and doesn’t raise enough revenue for a rapid decarbonization of the California economy. Energy should be priced such that systems using the least carbon are also the most affordable. We support finding the most effective ways to use such mechanisms to promote a just transition. These could include a form of carbon tax and dividend.
To achieve these ends, we must assert popular sovereignty over corporate sovereignty. We call for:
Money Out of Politics
No substantial transformations of our society are possible as long as the billionaires club controls the electoral system and corporations dominate our legal system. Overturning Citizens United is an important first step towards full political equality, as is the equally urgent restoration of voting rights. We support an amendment to the Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech and corporations are not people,effectively overturning Citizens Unitedandrelated rulings. Only human beingsare entitled to free speech and other constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Ending Corporate Trade Agreeements
We oppose the sacrifice of environmental, health, labor and consumer safety protections to the multinational corporate agenda. A series of multinational trade agreements (WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, the pending TPP) subordinate national laws to the interests of multinational corporations. We must abolish the Investor-State Tribunals that enable these corporations to sue sovereign nations, including the U.S., threatening to overrule public interest and environmental laws that would “take” their future profits. We must elevate human rights and the rights of nature over multinational profiteering.
Sunflower Alliance joins with local, regional and national networks working for social, environmental and climate justice.
Achieving our common goals of just and sustainable communities must include: replacing jobs in the fossil fuel “extractive economy” with well-paid unionized jobs, worker-owned cooperatives and democratic alternatives; achieving justice for all immigrants; drastically reducing income inequality; freeing communities from racialized policing and mass incarceration; and demilitarizing our economy.
Achieving these goals will take decades. The urgency to address climate change means that actions to target climate change and broader efforts to achieve our vision of a just society will proceed at differing speeds. Marginalized communities, regions, states and nations most threatened by climate change will need resources from wealthier regions to make these changes.