The mission of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is to build a diverse movement powerful enough to put our region on the path to climate stability, while using our proximity to the nation’s capital to inspire action in neighboring states, around the country, and across the world. CCAN is the largest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to fighting for bold and just solutions to climate change in the Chesapeake region of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
We envision an economy where energy efficiency and truly clean sources of power sustain every aspect of our lives and dirty fossil fuels are phased out; where all communities share equitably in the promise of a clean and healthy environment; where millions of family-sustaining jobs form the backbone of our economy; and where we’ve kept the increase in the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius, protecting the most vulnerable communities in our region and the world from the worst impacts of climate change.
As we build this movement, and work together to keep global temperatures from rising, we know that some climate impacts are already locked in. These impacts are felt most by those least responsible for them. That’s why we’re also helping the communities in our region already experiencing the terrifying impacts of climate change to adapt to a warming planet.
Now that world governments, including our own, have begun to make commitments that match the scale of the problem, we’re making sure we do our part right here in the Chesapeake region. We’ll continue to build a people-powered movement for bold and just solutions to climate change in the Chesapeake region of Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, and on Capitol Hill, while also acting as “first-responders” to federal action on the climate crisis and inspiring climate action across the country.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network was founded by Mike Tidwell, a long-time journalist dedicated to creating a regional grassroots organization committed to climate action. CCAN officially launched on July 1, 2002 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Working with a large and growing network of allies, the group has helped pass strong renewable electricity laws for 50% in Maryland and 100% in both Virginia and Washington, DC. Through litigation, CCAN has helped reduce mercury pollution from a coal plant in Wise County by 94 percent, forced the clean up of three coal ash dump sites in Maryland, and delayed construction of two massive fracked-gas pipelines in Virginia. It has also helped pass a landmark bill to ban fracking in Maryland, as well as one of the strongest statewide carbon caps in the country.
How We Work
- We take on the big fights: To make systemic change, we believe you need to change the law and the power to make that change comes from the people. We are committed to tackling issues that will have the biggest effect measured by pollution reduction and community impact. We are driven by results and we take into account the political context. But we always strive to widen the spectrum of what’s “politically possible,” knowing the physics of our climate won’t compromise.
- We believe that solving climate change means fighting for justice: The structures that perpetuate and exacerbate climate change are the same ones that have created related economic, racial, and intergenerational injustices. These structures must be transformed in order to build a better future for everyone. That means supporting the leadership of communities on the front lines, supporting policies rooted in both science and justice, and supporting other fights for racial, economic, and environmental justice in our region.
- We believe that people are at the center of change: Building a powerful grassroots movement is the ultimate answer to overcoming the power of polluting industries and holding our leaders accountable. We provide on ramps for people to take action on the major climate issues in the region and we partner with and support grassroots leaders. We organize, educate, and mobilize so that, even if we lose one battle, we are constantly building a bigger and stronger movement for change and long-term success.
- We believe we will win by building the biggest and broadest coalition possible: Climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced, and we won’t solve it by sticking to traditional silos. We seek out and foster relationships with nontraditional allies — including students, faith groups, labor, business owners, farmers, and movements for social, economic, and racial justice — to advance shared values and goals.
- We use every tool available: We are committed to creativity, both to win campaigns and to inspire action. We use every tool at our disposal—combining grassroots organizing with media outreach, policy analysis, lobbying, and the courts—to achieve results. We support strategic, nonviolent civil disobedience to underline the moral urgency of action and to prevent immoral wrongs.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Why Working for Equity is Mission-Critical for CCAN
At CCAN, we understand that the climate crisis is a human issue. We acknowledge that climate change has many deep-rooted causes, spanning everything from white supremacy to colonialism to the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of too few. This has led to the radically unfair reality that the people least responsible for changing our climate–from low-income communities in the U.S., to much of the Global South, to future generations–will be the first and/or the hardest hit by climate change.
We also acknowledge the history of the region in which we work. This land was once home to the Piscataway, Nanticoke, and Powhatan tribes, to name just a few. We occupy their homeland and their presence is imbued in this land, these rivers, islands, and coastal plains. Many of our staff are based in Richmond–the former capital of the Confederacy. Given the history of slavery in Richmond, across Virginia, and in Maryland, and DC, we feel a special obligation to put these inequities front and center in our work.
The structures that have perpetuated and exacerbated these economic, racial, and intergenerational injustices animate and motivate our work and must be transformed. Successfully curbing climate change will require a fundamental shift in people’s priorities, values, and relationships with each other and with the planet.
CCAN fights locally with and for the humans affected by climate change, especially those hit first and worst. We fight for the father in northern Virginia trying to stop the utility monopoly from dumping coal ash into his family’s water source; the descendants of slaves in Union Hill who are trying to protect the land they inherited from their grandparents from being polluted by a pipeline company; the nurse in Baltimore who has patients as young as two years old with asthma, and sees these rates increase as the planet warms; the low-income residents in the District and throughout our region to have access to clean, affordable solar energy for their homes; and for our own children who will inherit this crisis.
We fight for the future challenges we see coming, and those we can’t possibly predict. Climate change has been caused by unjust systems but climate change will also exacerbate many societal ills. As the crisis worsens, we will see an increase in the exploitation of labor as it gets harder to eke out a living; an increase in climate refugees forced to leave their home due to famine, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise; and an increase in war as resources get more scarce.
We believe that we will ultimately win by building the biggest and broadest coalition possible, resilient and connected communities, and never, ever, ever giving up. This ethos is reflected in our mission, which is to build a diverse movement powerful enough to put our region on the path to climate stability. To achieve this mission, we need a rebalancing of power. Power is now concentrated in too few people and these overly powerful few have led us towards catastrophe. Many of our most powerful politicians are ignoring the compelling climate science that should be driving their policies in favor of the billionaire companies who are funding their re-election campaigns.
Our climate movement must be broad and big enough to overcome the chronic opposition of these powerful few. It must tackle head-on the systemic racism and injustices that have led us to this point if we are to hope for lasting change. Only by including all voices in the movement will we build up enough political power to overcome the entrenched and powerful interests to preserve a planet on which human beings can live and thrive.
CCAN commits to continually improving our approach, skills, organization, and campaigns to ensure our region meets that vision. We will do this by:
- Ensuring that CCAN-supported campaigns prioritize the leadership and concerns of our region’s frontline communities, recognizing that the same systemic injustices that have led to the climate crisis have also created social and economic inequality across our region and nation;
- Providing education and training to CCAN staff, enabling them to be aware of the racial and equity dynamics in our society and region and be able to incorporate equity principles into their work; and
- Assessing and reassessing our internal practices, structure, and policies to ensure CCAN is a workplace where our staff reflects the diversity of our region and that staff from any background feel supported, valued, included and welcomed.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is a 501(c)(3) organization with a corporate charter in Maryland. Click here for audited financial statements and tax forms.