The day that I was asked to be a speaker at the Climate Crisis Moment Rally in Charleston, SC, I immediately agreed. I wanted to bring the message from the United Nations level back to the Lowcountry for people to know that the Gullah/Geechee Nation is still in the Paris Climate Agreement no matter what other folks do. This rally showed, that there were plenty of other folks in our region that were still in too!
The Climate Crisis Moment has now become a climate emergency for the Lowcountry. Our partners at the Charleston Climate Coalition have taken the lead in seeking climate emergency declarations. To that end, the Town of James Island has as declaration on their meeting agenda on Thursday, September 17, 2020. It begins this way:
“RESOLUTION ENDORSING THE DECLARATION OF A CLIMATE EMERGENCY AND MOBILIZATION EFFORT TO RESTORE A SAFE CLIMATE
WHEREAS, in 2016 world leaders recognized the urgent need to combat climate change by signing the Paris Agreement, agreeing to keep global warming “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C;”
WHEREAS, the death and destruction already wrought by current average global warming of 1°C demonstrate that the Earth is alreadytoo hot for safety, as attested by increased and intensifying wildfires, floods, rising seas, diseases, droughts, hurricanes and other extreme weather events;
WHEREAS, James Island is among the most vulnerable communities to sea-level rise in the United States and must lead by example to demonstrate the urgency and commitment to safer, sustainable energy sources; “
Given that all the towns and counties in the Gullah/Geechee Nation that participate in Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week proclaimed their support for the “Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Plan,” it only makes sense that they now stand with and for us in declaring climate emergencies within their jurisdictions. Hundreds of municipalities in the United States have declared climate emergencies and over 1,740 have been declared globally. These declarations must also have teeth to bite into this massive undertaking. They must provide resources that will be directed toward climate action to protect, sustain, and enhance the resiliency of the Sea Islands.
A Climate Emergency Declaration is a public recognition of the current and coming challenge of the climate crisis and a resolution to act on it. It acknowledges that we cannot continue with “business as usual,” but have to shift into problem-solving mode and actively adopt climate-responsible practices. To that end, James Island’s Climate Emergency Declaration includes concrete and decisive steps to act on climate change, such as:
Ending greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and no later than 2030
Initiating efforts to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere
Accelerating adaptation and resilience strategies in preparation for intensifying local climate impacts (such as sea level rise, flooding, and more frequent and severe hurricane activity)
Directing town staff and Town elected and appointed officials to be educated on the latest climate science and climate solutions
Establishing a Climate Mobilization Plan and identify a Climate Manager to oversee the James Island mobilization effort
Given this step vital climate action step in the right direction, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition and the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation support the James Island Town Council proceeding with this declaration during their meeting today. We encourage everyone to write to the council members ahead of the meeting in support of this declaration as well: