Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
The Most Powerful Climate Action You Can Take This Year
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Exercise your Democratic Duty
If you live in a democracy, there is one action you can take to leverage your personal power to make a significant difference on the future of our planet: Vote.
Vote for candidates who care about the climate crisis and will enact significant and meaningful policies and legislation to get GHG emissions to zero before 2050.
Too many citizens, even those who care about the climate, don’t exercise this essential right (and I would say duty) often enough. After the 2016 election in the United States, the Environmental Voters Project reported that while 20 million eligible voters viewed climate change as a priority issue, less than half of those people voted. And this was despite large “Get Out the Vote” efforts from environmental organizations.
As environmentalists it is time to walk our talk. It is time to demand environmental leadership from our politicians. So, this year, particularly if you live in the United States where so much is at stake in our nation, I invite, encourage, and implore you to not only vote in all the local, state, and national elections, but to do what you can to inspire others to vote too.
Here are some ways to engage if you live in the United States:
Identify and Vote for Candidates Who Care about Climate Change
Find out which candidates on your ballot are actively supporting policies and legislation to reduce GHG emissions and enact climate friendly policies.
Some environmental organizations, like the League of Conservation Voters, rate state, and national elected officials on their environmental record. LCV also has a "Give Green" one-stop site where you can see all their endorsed state and federal candidates as well as easily contribute to any of their campaigns.
Some, like the Sierra Club’s state chapters, also publish endorsements of candidates running for election. Check out your state chapter to learn which politicians on your local ballot have been endorsed. Write to them and thank them for their commitment to the environment. Ask that they ramp up climate action and set a deadline of 2035 instead of 2050.
Read the climate change platforms of the presidential candidates. Check out reviews of the plans by environmental organizations. Greenpeace has information on the presidential candidates’ stances on climate. Then vote for the one who has the most comprehensive plan to address climate change and reduce emissions by 2050.
Vote Safely and Early
With the pandemic likely to be an issue still in November, it is important to not be deterred from voting. You can vote safely and effectively. It also crucial that we vote early so election officials have time to count all votes and certify the election results as soon as possible. We want there to be no doubt who the winner is.
Check to make sure you are registered to vote by going to your state’s Board of Elections website. If you are not registered, register now.
Find out if you can vote by mail here. In some states, ballots are automatically mailed out to registered voters. In other states, you need to apply for a mail-in ballot. If you live in a state where you need to apply, apply immediately to ensure you receive your ballot.
Vote early, as soon as you can, whether that is by mail or early in-person voting. Learn about your state’s early voting schedule and polling places. They are likely to be less crowded than on November 3rd.
If you are concerned about your vote being lost or delayed in the mail, then take it to your local Election Board office or to a mail-in ballot collection box. Many states and counties are installing these boxes to ensure safe voting.
Encourage Others to Vote and to Choose Environmentally Friendly Candidates
Leverage your relationships to get others to vote. Encourage your family and friends to vote. Help them get registered if they are not already signed up or get a mail-in ballot. Offer to take them to an early voting site or to take their ballot to collection box.
Talk with your family and friends about environmental candidates in your area. Share information on environmental organization scorecards with them.
Post information about environmental candidates on social media and encourage your friends to vote.
Participate in a get out the vote campaign. Various groups (environmental or other) are organizing postcard, calls and texts efforts that you can do from the safety of your home. Find a group that resonates with you. One friend of mine is taking part in a postcard campaign organized by her church. My husband and I are making calls and texts as a part of the Greenpeace Electoral Volunteer Teamseffort. You may also want to check out other organizations, like Environmental Voter Project, NextGen America, Patagonia’s Vote our Planet, and Indivisible.
Protect Voter Rights
The current administration in the U.S. has shown that it is willing to disenfranchise voters by making it harder for some communities to vote. They are closing polling stations, removing and locking post office boxes from streets, and publishing unfounded claims about voter fraud in the media. It is important that we do what we can to protect the rights of all citizens to vote in this election.
Sign petitions related to protecting voting rights. The ACLU has a petition to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores protections to the Voting Rights Act stripped by a 2013 Supreme Court decision.
Educate yourself about voter suppression. Check out the Brennan Center for Justice to learn more. They have a petition to ask Congress for funding to protect the 2020 election.
Work with organizations, like Common Cause that acts to expand voting rights and eliminate gerrymandering, to write letters to influencers.
Organize or participate in local get out the vote efforts. Let America Vote has information on how to get started.
Donate to organizations like Spread the Vote that helps voters get ID’s required in some states for voting.
Usually in my blog posts I ask you to think about which of the actions I’ve described you will commit to take. However, this time, since this is such a timely and important moment, I am strongly encouraging you to take action in all four areas described above. The future of our democracy and our planet depends on it.
I’d love to know what’s grabbing your attention or what questions are running through your mind. Let me know in the comments section. I’ll respond in one of my blog posts.
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All the best,
Krista / Eco-Omi