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Climate Champions Celebrate 20 Years of Climate Action with CCAN

Here’s what they have to say. 

Over CCAN’s twenty years of grassroots advocacy, we’ve been fortunate to work with many wonderful climate leaders in the realms of government, nonprofits, and public policy.

As CCAN recently celebrated our twentieth birthday and twenty years of climate victories, we asked leaders to reflect on the state of climate policy over the years, and what’s coming next for the climate movement.

Watch the videos below to hear from the leaders themselves what we’ve done and what’s coming next!

No time to watch these great videos? No problem! Read below for highlights. 

Our Movement is #PeoplePowered!

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-8) on the joys of surprise in activism: 

“Working with CCAN has been one of the great joys of my career. You never know what to expect. The first thing I ever did was try to get Mike Tidwell out of jail, or at least charges dropped against him, when he scaled NOAA. I’ve been swimming in sub-freezing temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of January with CCAN. We’ve worked to dramatically expand the state’s renewable energy portfolio in Annapolis. We’ve got the Green Maryland Act to make sure there’s composting and recycling in all the state government buildings and departments. I had such a great experience fighting for common, sensible things with CCAN… I want to credit Mike Tidwell for educating us two or three steps before the curve.”

Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman on the long road to improve Maryland’s electricity standard: 

“It’s been a long twenty-year partnership. Looking back on my very first term, we created one of the first Renewable Portfolio Standards in the nation. We’ve been playing around with that initial bill ever since. But it started back then. CCAN filled a void. Until then, I’d been told, there weren’t many grassroots organizations to help us build public policy initiatives in the clean energy space. … Way later, I would sponsor the Clean Energy Jobs Act. I’ll never forget how, in the House, the bill passed by one vote.”

Maryland State Delegate Kumar Barve (D17) on the importance of understanding the legislative process: 

“You’re committed, you’re emotional, you’re optimistic, and you know how the legislative process works. CCAN understands how the game is played and they use the rules to win.” 

Baltimore City Councilmember Mark Conway (District 4) on how he got his start as a CCAN intern after reading Mike’s book, and how morals must drive organizing: 

“I started working as a communications intern at CCAN in 2006. I was inspired by Mike’s book The Ravaging Tide, which was my freshman year book at the University of Maryland. It spoke volumes to me at that moment… It set the foundation for me as a young adult. I think the lessons and opportunities on organizing and from a moral perspective on climate change and our duty to step up and do everything in our power to address it, started with my interaction with CCAN.” 

Maryland State Delegate Lorig Charkoudian (D-20) on making climate a priority, and stopping at nothing to get it done: 

“I have come into the General Assembly committed to make the climate crisis a top priority in my work, to respond to the crisis and build a clean energy economy that is grounded in justice and good jobs, and CCAN has been the perfect partner to work on this. From my very first session, we worked together to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It was a tough one. A rollercoaster ride. But we got it done. Since then, CCAN highlighted the pandemic as a model of how bad things can be when we don’t take international climate policy seriously, the damage and destruction to human lives as well as the economy and the entire global community, leading to huge success with Climate Solutions Now Act. But as soon as that passed, Mike was on the phone with me asking, what do we do next?” 

Virginia State Rip Sullivan (D-48) on the remarkable effort it can take to pass a historic bill: 

“One of the remarkable things we were able to accomplish a couple years ago was the passage of the Clean Economy Act … Passing a piece of legislation like this frankly takes a small miracle. The bill could have died at least a dozen times. But having CCAN at the table with its expertise and enthusiasm and political savvy and strength as an organization, both from a political perspective and a technical perspective, was enormously helpful, and we couldn’t have gotten it done without CCAN’s help.” 

Shruti Bhatnagar, Chair of the MoCo Sierra Club on building coalitions: 

“We worked together on community solar, building and energy performance standards in Montgomery County, and it’s been great. We’ve organized rallies together, collaborated on writing op-eds, collaborated at being on community events to create awareness, and collaborated on strategy. We’re in a climate crisis and it’s really important we work together with other organizations and community activists, to make sure we’re bringing everyone together to create a stronger, more inclusive, and more just climate movement.” 

Leah Kelley, Staff Attorney of the Environmental Integrity Project on working in the court system to create change on climate: 

“In order to safeguard public health and the environment sometimes it’s necessary to access the court system. That might be in a situation where a polluter or an agency isn’t following what’s required under the law and we have to take them to court. In those situations, we partner with membership groups like CCAN in order to be able to access the judicial system. CCAN has members all over the state of Maryland, deeply caring and concerned people. It’s been a wonderful experience working with those members.” 

Nicole Renz, Former Legislative Director for DC Councilmember Mary Cheh on the how one tireless campaign for a carbon tax led to the strongest climate policy in the country: 

“I worked with Councilmember Cheh on the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act, which was spurred by CCAN’s initiative to adopt a climate tax. The climate tax campaign was, shall we say, relentless, it went on for two years and it was incredibly effective. Without that campaign, we would not have had the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act and we would not have passed it, and that Act created the policies that are essential to getting the District to a fifty percent carbon emission reduction over this decade. “

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky (D-22) on the need to mobilize in the streets: 

“CCAN believes in creating what Jesse Jackson used to call street heat, and I hold the same belief. We can try to convince with logic and science some of my colleagues, but ultimately mobilizing thousands of people across the state is crucial to passing progressive legislation.”

Maryland State Treasurer Derek Davis spoke of CCAN activists’ success passing strong Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies year after year:  

“You’ve made a tremendous difference in the state’s renewable energy portfolio. There’s a climate crisis. When you first started, there were a lot of folks denying that. But there’s now a universal acceptance that this is where we are.

“Your battles haven’t been easy. You didn’t have the same weapons at your disposal as others. But you were tenacious, you were dogged, you guys really went after it. You have a heart for this country, a heart for this state.” 

Thanks for watching our videos, and thanks for your support!

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