It’s getting hotter here on the Gulf coast, and we know why. It’s climate change. Climate change is real and it’s a serious threat to our economy, environment and way of life.
We are Climate Together Pensacola. We range in age from middle school student to senior citizen, and our members represent groups that work on a range of issues.
Climate action is the tie that binds us. Because the solutions to climate change present an opportunity that can bring us a healthier, cleaner, more enjoyable and more equitable world. And acting on climate continues America’s role as a leader and innovator that stretches from the Declaration of Independence to our ongoing experiment in representative democracy.
Climate action means adapting to the hotter summers, more intense rainstorms and stronger hurricanes that are already here. That can be through better design of buildings and communities, more street tree plantings for urban shade, reflective coatings for rooftops and paving, and better standards for new land development to help avoid flood problems.
But that doesn’t address the root cause of the problem, and so climate action also means shifting away from fossil fuels — the biggest driver of a warming planet. That’s why we are focused on a renewable energy future. In fact, we recently held hands with dozens of others on Pensacola Beach as part of the annual Hands Across the Sand event, in which we say no to dirty offshore drilling and yes to clean energy.
We want to see monopoly utilities act more quickly to transition to renewable energy, and to do so without unduly profiting their investors at the expense of hard-working people who struggle to pay their utility bills. We also work to see that jobs in clean energy and energy conservation are accessible to the many communities that have suffered disproportionately from pollution and have not enjoyed full access to economic opportunity. That’s called a just transition, in which the tremendous opportunities of our new clean energy economy are fully accessible to all.
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We want residents, businesses and local governments to have full access to the ability to put solar panels on their rooftops, rather than having state elected officials restrict the financing of this model due to pressure from monopoly utilities. Every solar panel on a rooftop is one that does not have to occupy precious space on the ground — ground that could otherwise serve as forest or farmland.
Together we acknowledge and push to address the historic disparities in our society, and see climate action as a way to help get there. For example, we must invest more in affordable housing, and make sure that it is energy-efficient, healthy, and designed to foster community.
We support communities designed for people rather than cars, so that we have choices in how to get around each day. Doing this opens up our world in beautiful ways, giving us healthy spaces in which to gather and to experience each other while reducing our cost of living. We support the movement for “15 minute cities,” in which all of our daily needs can be met by a 15 minute walk, bicycle ride or bus trip.
Ultimately we need a restorative economy rather than our current extractive one that continues to take without giving back. A restorative economy grows our natural capital in clean air and water, improves public health and relies on renewable sources of energy and materials.
We take particular inspiration from our youngest voice, that of 10-year-old Rainey Richards. At the recent Hands event, Rainey reminded us of psychologist and historian William James’ charge to “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” And from that, she challenged us with the urgency of the work ahead, especially for our children and grandchildren.
“We have to act now to ensure a good future for our Earth, and for kids like me.”
Sandra Adams of 350 Pensacola, Katie Dineen of 850eco, Rodney Jones of Movement for Change, Jay McGee of UWF Student Environmental Action Society, Rainey Richards of Climate Together Pensacola and Christian Wagley of Healthy Gulf.