Meet a CCANer: Paolo Mutia

Paolo is the Central Virginia Organizer at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Here’s his story.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

I was born in the Philippines, but Richmond has helped me to become the person I am today. I learned at a young age what it meant to be poor in America and how racial and socioeconomic disparities affected the lives of youth in my neighborhood. Growing up in America, I constantly hear about the disastrous effects of climate change miles across the ocean in my home country, the Philippines. I hear about the fear of typhoons coming for my friends and family back at home. At a young age, I learned and realized the systemic privileges that I had based on being Asian, the color of my skin, my immigration status, and the privilege I hold by living in America. 

What impacts of climate change currently hit home to you?

Growing up in the Philippines, I didn’t really know what the word “climate change” meant back then, all I knew was that sometimes I would wake up and go downstairs to see my home completely flooded. And for my family that was normal. It was reality we faced on a daily basis. Whenever I see flooded communities broadcasted on the news I am always taken back to my childhood home in the Philippines. 

What has inspired you most working with CCAN? 

CCAN is an organization that understands that the climate crisis is a human issue. It’s exciting to be a part of an organization that acknowledges the layers of injustice and systemic racism that have led us to this point. The work CCAN has done to advocate and empower frontline communities to be hit first and the worst by climate change has inspired me to keep pushing in our environmental movement. We continue to grow to be a more diverse and powerful voice. 

What have you contributed to bringing about a clean energy revolution that you are most proud of? 

When I was little I remember growing up in an old house over at the east end of Richmond. There were times where the energy bills trumped the rent cost, times where we would have no heat in the winter. By sharing my story to people, I am able to help bring to light the energy burden issue in Virginia that needs to be taken into account in the clean energy revolution. 

What do you hope to see happen in terms of climate in the next year?

I hope that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Bill will pass in Virginia with many of the equity measures still in place to protect frontline communities impacted by climate change. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working on climate change?

I love to cook with my friends, collect recipes from everyone I meet, and play with my Goldendoodle, Kai. 

Who would you high five?

Saul Alinsky, the father of community organizing. I recommend you read his book “Rules for Radicals.”

Letter from the Director: A World in Shock

Dear friends, 

The year 2019 began with the world in shock. Scientists said we had barely 10 years to cut carbon emissions in half if we wanted to avoid a full-on climate catastrophe. Then, just 12 months later, the year ended with Swedish schoolgirl and climate activist – Greta Thunberg – being named Time Magazine’s “person of the year.” 

A lot happened in between. And the Chesapeake Climate Action Network is proud to have played our role, both regionally and nationally, in the climate movement with several major victories. As the year comes to an end, won’t you make a gift to keep us going? Honestly, we’re tired but inspired and soon-to-be-recharged to fight for more wins in the new year.

It’s clear that climate has now become a global issue. In 2019, the Sunrise Movement really took off, calling for a Green New Deal. Then climate activists in the UK shut down roads and airports to protest inaction there, declaring themselves the “Extinction Rebellion.” Their movement quickly spread to America. And throughout this year, Thunberg led students worldwide in “Fridays For Future” strikes, culminating in upwards of 8 million strikers across the world on September 20. 

Our movement is BIG now. A full 76 percent of the US public believes climate change is a major problem, according to a recent Washington Post poll. 

Now, what do we do about it? Well, in 2019, CCAN joined the mayor of Washington, DC in passing a 100% clean energy bill that will power Congress and the White House with wind and solar power by 2032. We passed the sweeping “Clean Energy Jobs Act” in Maryland. And we continued to work successfully to stop two major fracked-gas pipelines in Virginia. 

Not to mention, we worked with U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in grilling former ExxonMobil scientists in a hearing focused on the company’s 30-year effort to deny climate change and harm the public.

What’s next for us in 2020? A lot. Stay tuned for new campaigns for radical carbon reduction policies regionally and nationally. Plus more work to hold Exxon accountable. 

But we need you. None of our work is possible without the financial support of people like you. Please make a generous donation today so we can continue our inspired climate leadership tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. 

On we go, 

Mike Tidwell
Executive Director
Chesapeake Climate Action Network & CCAN Action Fund

Photo at the top from Markus Spiske on Unsplash