Act: Inspiration

A County of One Million Declares First-in-Nation Climate Emergency

December 7, 2017

The Trump administration is busy waging war on the environment, but Climate Mobilizers are on the ground, playing offense — building power for emergency climate mobilization.

On Tuesday December 5, thanks to the efforts of TCM organizers, the County Council of Montgomery County, Maryland unanimously passed a resolution declaring climate emergency — making it the first county in the nation to do so.

The County also moved its emissions reductions goal up from 80% in 2050 to 100% by 2035, and is newly greatly emphasizing the need for developing and scaling the county’s capacity for carbon drawdown.

The Council set an interim goal of 80% by 2027. It also greatly expanded the coverage of these goals, from increasing renewable sources of electricity to the elimination of ALL greenhouse gases (GHG) from ANY source in the County. This marks a huge step, as generating electricity typically accounts for only about a third of  GHG.

The resolution was sponsored by Councilmembers Marc Elrich, George Lebenthal and Council president Roger Berliner, and cosponsored by Councilmember Tom Hucker.

“In this era of federal insanity, local governments must not settle for rubber stamping Paris, but step up and do enough to save us,” said Dr. Jim Driscoll, coordinator of the local chapter of The Climate Mobilization (TCM), which launched this effort.

The effort was commended by noted local climate leaders. Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus president and Montgomery County resident, as well as TCM advisor, said, “Wealthy communities like Montgomery County add far more than our share to climate change, while poor communities and those targeted by racism bear the brunt of its effects. I pray that others across the country will follow our lead.”

Dr. Michael Mann, noted climate scientist and member of the TCM advisory board commented on the resolution’s passage, saying: “There is no carbon budget left to avoid catastrophe. We need every local government to follow Montgomery County’s example and get rid of all its emissions, not in thirty years, but ASAP.”

TCM Organizers Jim Driscoll and Herb Simmens succeeded in spearheading this effort because they got organized and built alliances. And that’s what is going to help us mobilize Los Angeles, and ultimately the whole country.

While it’s not yet the decade transition The Climate Mobilization demands, in a county representing over one million residents and a stone’s throw away from our climate-denying federal government, this resolution marks a powerful turn away from gradualism. And we’re only going to keep pushing until we get the full mobilization we need.

Anya Grenier

Anya Grenier is the head of The Climate Mobilization’s media operation. She is also the author of TCM’s Blueprint for an Emergency Climate Movement. She recently graduated from Yale college.

Tags: building resilient communities, climate change responses