FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
(202) 277-2103 (c)
ecoAmerica Convenes 7th Annual
“American Climate Leadership Summit”
More than 250 leaders gather in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate the breadth of climate action at state and local levels and across diverse sectors, from faith to health, justice and industry
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 25, 2017
Today, Wednesday October 25 and tomorrow, Thursday October 26, leaders from across the country and numerous public advocacy disciplines are spotlighting the surge in climate action, while Washington, D.C. remains gridlocked and inching toward rolling back pollution protections. Held at The National Press Club, the American Climate Leadership Summit is a premier gathering to galvanize momentum toward the alliances, policies, and programs needed to accelerate action and advocacy for climate solutions, and to protect communities, including the most vulnerable. “Taking Up the Mantle” is the theme of this year’s Summit, spearheaded by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building institutional leadership, public support and political will necessary to enact climate solutions across the United States, and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Milken Institute of Public Health, The Wilderness Society, Audubon Society, JetBlue, The Climate Reality Project, AASCU, and Bonwood Social Investments.
- Bob Perkowitz, Founder and CEO, ecoAmerica
- Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, Professor, Department of Political Science, Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University
- Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
- Dr. V. Fan Tait, Chief Medical Officer, Sr. Vice President, Child Health and Wellness, American Academy of Pediatrics
- Claudia Withers, Chief Operating Officer, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- Sophia Mendelsohn, Head of Sustainability, JetBlue Airways
- Mindy Lubber, Chief Executive Officer, President, CERES
- Hon. Greg Nickels, 51st Mayor of Seattle
- Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, African Methodist Episcopal Zion
- Ken Berlin, President, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Reality Project
- Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
- Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society
U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is scheduled to deliver an evening keynote today, Wednesday, October 25, at approximately 5:45 p.m. Joel Clement will give a lunchtime keynote address tomorrow, Thursday, October 26. Clement recently resigned from the Department of the Interior after filing a whistle-blower complaint alleging that the Trump administration had forced him from his position as director of the Office on Policy Analysis for his outspoken positions on climate change.
“We are proud to bring together a diverse group of leaders to celebrate and accelerate climate leadership in America,” said Bob Perkowitz, President and Founder of ecoAmerica. “Americans, in growing numbers, are concerned about our changing climate and are looking to leaders in their daily lives for guidance. The leaders that are here today–pastors, doctors, nurses, mayors, entrepreneurs, communities of color, and the larger associations they belong to–are taking up the mantle on climate solutions. They are leading on climate, and meeting Americans where they are, where they work, live, play, pray and learn.”
Climate change isn’t an environmental issue; it’s an American issue. And that will be on full display at the summit, where discussions and presentations will spotlight the latest climate impact findings, innovations in technological and natural solutions, business transformation, health education and advocacy, clergy and justice leaders making the climate connection and local government officials who are advancing climate solutions while the federal government stands idle. Leaders will also participate in working sessions to collaborate on strategies to further momentum for climate solutions in 2018 and beyond.
Few things are more vital to societies and economies than public health. Over the past 100 years, Americans have experienced a 25-year increase in life expectancy. Much of this progress can be attributed to advances in nutrition, science, medicine and access to care. Yet there is a growing body of evidence documenting climate-generated threats to human health, from heat, particulates, storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and the toll these extreme conditions take on mental health. But the public health sector is organizing, deploying resources and emphasizing the urgency of action like never before.
“The public health impacts of climate change range from heat-related deaths to the increasing threat of vector-borne diseases like Zika,” said Lynn Goldman, MD, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. “We must take action now in our daily lives and with policy solutions to reduce the risks posed by climate change to this generation and the next.”
“Climate change is a universal issue that requires cooperative, long-term solutions, with a limited window of opportunity. Our nation’s vast public lands are one of the best hopes for addressing the climate challenge, with nature playing a key role in building resilient landscapes, and the opportunity to align energy development on U.S. public lands with global climate targets,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society.
While there is no substitute for federal standards, or global partnerships, much of the change needed to address climate change will occur at the state and local levels, the places where we live and work and raise our families. Whether it’s through legislation or voluntary measures, at the sub-national level climate solutions are on the move. Cities are making their buildings more energy efficient, their streets and parks more walkable and their transportation fleets less reliant on petroleum. Car- and bike-sharing programs are growing exponentially, as are options for utility users to switch to clean energy like wind and solar.
“After the United States announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, civil society doubled down on its commitment to climate action and showed that the American people will continue to work for solutions — with or without the help of the federal government,” said Ken Berlin, president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project. “Though the Trump Administration is trying to dismantle environmental protections and climate policies, the response from the American people, cities, states and the business community has shown that we can and will continue to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and the American Climate Leadership Summit is an opportunity for all of us to work together to keep moving toward the goal of solving the climate crisis.”
Climate change knows no boundaries; however, we are already witnessing its outsized impacts on those communities least able to defend themselves. As the recent hurricanes illustrated, vulnerable communities, including communities of color, suffer the most from climate change, with the greatest impacts on their health, finances, and quality of life. Every community should be protected against the pollutants and impacts of climate change. And no one recognizes this more than people of faith, whose leaders, clergy and congregants from a diversity of denominations are answering the call for moral leadership.
“As Christians, we are called to be stewards of Creation and to care for the gifts God has provided: clean air, water, land and an hospitable environment,” said Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church. “The current climate crisis should be a clarion call for all people of faith to take action. We know that vulnerable and marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by the effects of a changing climate first and worst. We cannot stand by as our sisters and brothers around the world continue to suffer.”
The United States has a transformative opportunity to power economic growth while simultaneously combating climate change in sustainable and equitable ways. Despite public policy lagging behind public will and glaring need, there is a good news story that needs to be told. In fact, there are thousands of those stories. When the federal government finds the will to engage on climate solutions, participants at the American Climate Leadership Summit will be there to meet them, having taking up the mantle of leadership, to scale up the solutions necessary to protect natural systems and insure the well-being of current and future generations.
Panel discussions will focus on:
- The State of Climate and Solutions in 2017
- Climate Leadership, where solutions are happening in the midst of an adverse administration
- Climate Justice and Inclusion
- New Frontiers of Climate Action, including new methods of reducing climate impacts, and engaging stakeholders in solutions
- Cities and States: The laboratories for innovation and reform
- Spiritual connection to physical environment, and the moral and religious imperative to advocate for solutions
- Health impacts of climate change, health benefits of solutions, and how health leaders can influence society
The Summit’s presentations can be viewed on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/ecoAmerica/, or followed on Twitter via #ACLS17 and #USClimateLeadership.
ecoAmerica builds institutional leadership, public support, and political will for climate solutions in the United States. The not for profit organization helps national mainstream organizations elevate their climate leadership, providing them strategy, tools and resources to demonstrate visible climate leadership, empower climate literacy, engage all constituents, and build collective action and advocacy.