Action 103. Welcome a New Year of climate change action!

Happy new year! We’ve arrived again at that time of year to make all those resolutions. This year we’ll get to the gym more, be more patient with our kids, spend less time on the computer (guilty as charged…). I have to admit, I don’t like resolutions much. Not only because they are very hard to sustain- the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all that- but because I struggle with how to articulate the things I want to work on as individual “things” that can be addressed in isolation. Patience, balance, sympathy, health- these are the kinds of things I want to work on, and they are all characteristics that pervade every aspect of my life, so its hard to “resolve” to work on any of these, other than by getting up each day and trying to integrate more of these things into my everyday life.

Even though I started this blog as a way to resolve and commit to regular climate change action, I often feel the same way about the climate change issue as I do about all these other “resolutions” I make – it can feel fragmentary and incomplete to parse action on climate change into individual activities. Our effects on our climate are the result of all the actions we collectively take- how we eat, how we get from point A to point B, where we live, how we regulate ourselves individually and collectively. I think that’s why I feel like sometimes this blog is all over the place- one day I’m writing about arctic ecology, then oil-by-rail, then the plastic bags in my grocery store- because the effects of climate change are the sum of actions at so many scales. Not that by any means I’m equating the federal decision on the Keystone pipeline with personal shopping decisions- but fundamentally they are integrally connected, because the decisions we make as consumers and citizens help at least in part drive the market forces that govern the economics of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas production. Of course, lobbyists and political power drives a lot of those economics too. That’s why climate change actions can’t be limited to the personal- they have to also be political, we  have to work to demand changes beyond our individual behaviors, to ever have a hope of changing a system that is so entrenched and powerful.

So in celebration of a New Year of personal and political climate progress, I’d like to start off the year by focusing on some of the hopes for progress on climate change at a very large scale. There are some really exciting efforts that will be getting underway in 2014. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be leading a Climate Summit in September in New York, inviting government leaders to sit down with leaders in business, finance, energy and nonprofit sectors to find creative ways to move forward on climate policy and actions. This summit will lay the groundwork for the UN Framework Convention on the international climate treaty meetings in Paris in 2015. This past fall, the western regional climate action plan signed was by the governors of Washington, Oregon and California, and the premier of British Columbia, to move forward on coordinated efforts to price carbon and regulate greenhouse gases, and 2014 should be an important year for moving those plans forward. And, for better or for worse, this year should see some extremely important decisions being made on the Tesoro-Savage oil export terminal in Washington (See Action 101), the Keystone pipeline through the US (See Action 85) and the Enbridge pipeline  in Canada (See Action 102).

So I guess to navigate my way through my complex feelings about resolutions, I’d like to think of 2014 more of a continued commitment to climate change action. I’m committed to continuing to work on my personal actions, and also following these important developments in climate policy, and hoping for- and working for-  decisions that put us on the path to sustainable energy development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s wishing you and your planet a happy, healthy, carbon-lowering year.

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