Category Archives: Climate Change

“If we want justice, everyone’s voice needs to be heard.” Why Climate Equity Matters

I had the privilege this week of attending the first screening of a remarkable film made by two young people, Laura Stewart and Julian Kane.  Laura is one of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, and the film was her project for the Fellowship.  Julian is a graduate student at Antioch University.  The film, “Our Story:  Climate Justice and Environmental Justice,” showcased over twenty people from our community here in Puget Sound, voices that are not often heard in the debate and discourse on climate and the environment.  Laura’s intent in creating the film was to bring to the front of the table those communities disproportionately impacted by climate.  She interviewed leaders and activists at environmental, labor, and educational organizations who collectively raised the climate justice flag and conveyed a deep sense of urgency.  Laura and Julian were both brimming with enthusiasm and pride – as they should be – for the film that they created, for the stories they illuminated, for the discussion that their work engendered.  “We are two young people of color, and we just did it,” Laura proclaimed.

Laura Stewart, Roger-Mark De Souza, & Lara Iglitzin
Laura Stewart, Jackson Leadership Fellow,  Roger-Mark De Souza, Wilson Center, and Lara Iglitzin

The film is inspiring, in part because it is made by and gives a megaphone to many young people, often people of color, finding allies in their efforts to save the planet from climate warming.  It is also a call to action for all of us who want to see communities of color empowered.  Short interviews in the film include Running Grass, from the Three Circles Center, Jourdan Imani Keith, from the Urban Wilderness Project, Aiko Schaefer with Front and Centered (Communities of Color for Climate Justice), and Sudha Nandagopal, from the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment.

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Roger-Mark De Souza, an expert on democracy, environmental security, climate and international development, and a frequent Jackson Foundation partner through his role at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., moderated a lively and thoughtful discussion with those present.  “What side of history do you want to be on?” one of the participants asked the film audience.  “We have an obligation to chart a cleaner future” for ourselves and our children, another argued.  The film also stimulated a broader dialogue about privilege, elites, and diversity.  Audience members felt the film should be seen widely, and Laura agrees.  She is urging people to share it on social media and take ownership of it so it can be viewed as much as possible.  There is also talk of a lesson plan, as early viewers felt that the film speaks in an accessible manner for young students.

We are proud of our Jackson Fellow Laura Stewart – she has made a film that will get people talking, and acting, on climate justice.  Congratulations!

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

China’s Energy Crossroads

Earlier this week, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the National Bureau of Asian Research launched NBR’s 2014 Energy Security Report at an event entitled “China’s Energy Crossroads:  Forging a New Energy and Environmental Balance.”  The event in Washington, DC, attracted a large, diverse, policy-oriented crowd with a particular interest in Asia-Pacific affairs and China’s growing energy demands.

Admiral Blair and John Hempelmann
Admiral Dennis C.  Blair and John Hempelmann, Foundation President

Admiral Dennis C. Blair, former United States Director of National Intelligence and member of NBR’s Board of Directors, started the day with a note of optimism on a few fronts:  one, the recent joint announcement by the U.S. and Chinese government outlining steps each country will take to reduce carbon emissions and the warming of the global climate.  This “bright spot” in U.S.-China relations, as another speaker referred to it, will provide leadership to other major countries on climate change politics.  He also emphasized that the Chinese middle class, increasingly vocal and unhappy about air and water pollution in China, is being heard by Chinese political elites and is contributing to a sense of urgency about the need to act on China’s environmental challenges.

Gannett on Panel 2_Wide Shot
Panel on China’s Energy Policy and Its Impact on U.S. – China Relations

I was struck at the event by the monumental nature of the challenge that China faces today, and the truth in the title – a crossroads – and its implications not just for China, but for the world.  China no longer has the luxury – to the extent that it had it at all – of focusing primarily on growth without regard to environmental consequences.  It must face the results of its laser-like intensity to grow the economy.  The good news is that China’s political elites are well aware of this now.  The more difficult part is figuring out how to deal effectively with all the myriad problems this poses:  to the healthcare system, to China’s regional partners and global allies and rivals, to domestic political concerns within China, to its military and strategic thinking as it seeks to reinforce its current energy resources and explore new avenues beyond fossil fuels.  China’s energy demands continue to be a driver of both foreign and domestic policies and a spur to innovate.  Its decisions will impact America, other regional powers in Asia, and beyond.

Mikkal E. Herberg and Li Bin
Mikkal E. Herberg, NBR and Li Zhidong, Nagaoka University of Technology

NBR’s 2014 Energy Security Report discusses these interconnected concerns in a series of highly readable, policy-oriented briefs intended to inform policymakers, energy specialists and Asia-watchers.  Free copies of the report are available here.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

 

Climate Change and International Security: What are the implications for policymakers?

The Jackson Foundation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) had a closed-door symposium that focused attention on the intersection of national security and climate change and how to better prepare decision-makers to act.  The extraordinary gathering of high caliber individuals representing federal, State and local government – including the U.S. military – as well as businesses, NGOs and academia, convened to highlight the urgency of climate change and its impact on our country’s national security.

Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor, and Mike Kluse, director of PNNL
White House Sr. Advisor, Alice Hill & Mike Kluse, Director of PNNL

Why this topic?  For starters, Senator Jackson was an early voice raising concerns about our nation’s energy resources and national security.  His environmental legacy included a sweeping view of what it meant to manage environmental resources wisely, and he also had vision and perspective that encompassed changing global trends in energy use as well as security needs.  That perspective is lacking today in Washington, DC.  The Foundation and PNNL sought to underscore the interconnectedness of global climate changes and security threats such as reduced water resources, population migration, extreme weather events, political instability due to diminished food resources, and the like.  The U.S. military has this first and foremost on its radar, as was evidenced by the top-level representatives at the symposium.

Rep. Adam Smith and Hon. Norm Dicks
Rep. Adam Smith and Hon. Norm Dicks

The White House has taken a public stand and is trying to light a fire on this issue nationally.  Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience, pressed the point:  “The workshop participants emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change and its impacts on our country’s national security and determined that it is critical to take immediate action.”  The Foundation and PNNL intend to pursue this issue and ensure that it remains front and center before policymakers in Congress as well as state and local governments.

King County Council Chair Larry Phillips
King County Council Chair Larry Phillips

As Congressman Adam Smith said, “We can’t separate this out and say climate change is an energy problem and not a national security problem.”  Larry Phillips, Foundation Board member and Chair of the King County Council, has been a leader in thinking strategically about climate impacts in the greater Seattle region.  He concluded:  “We have a duty to lead on threats from climate change that are making us vulnerable now.”

Craig Gannett, Jackson Foundation Vice President
Craig Gannett, Jackson Foundation Vice Pres., at press briefing

The Jackson Foundation and PNNL sponsored a press and public briefing the day after the symposium on June 5.  Watch the event here.

We are holding a Washington, DC briefing on July 29 at the Woodrow Wilson Center to further highlight the national security threats posed by climate changes today as well as tomorrow.  Look for more information coming on that event soon.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director