Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty


Hey all,

We've moved to

Please update your links, or whatever it is that you do. Don't worry, all our posts and info has been moved over there, as well as our website info. Its a 1-stop-shop for DC climate action.


The Ac Fac

Friday, August 21, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Update: Sate Dept Response to our Letter on Oil Sands

Many of you saw the letter the Action Factory wrote yesterday in response to the State Dept approval of the Clipper Pipeline border crossing.

Today we met with two officials with the Oceans, Environment and Science department, one of the departments that worked on the Clipper pipeline project. While the officials avoided giving us their names or positions, we imagine that one works in PR while the other is more policy focused. They thanked us for our wonderful visual skits and the over 10,000 phone calls and emails generated. They emphasized that we should have gotten involved earlier, during the public comment part of the two year process, where over 6000 stakeholders submitted their opinions.

The PR guy emphasized that the US plan to reduce oil emissions centers around CAFE standards and what a great improvement we've had in that area. He said that we should bring the Tar Sands Monster skit to an Escalade factory if we really want to make a difference. The woman, who was sorry to have missed the skit, said that the next pipeline project has already started the approval process, and they expect the public comment period to be open in December or January. They both also pointed out that their role was more approving the crossing of the U.S. border, but that there were various other regulatory agencies that needed to sign off on the pipeline as well.

Our biggest question: What kind of a signal do you send the world, as we near the Copenhagen climate negotiations, when we approve a major expansion in international dirty energy infrastructure? Answer: We need to make decision in the 'here and now' and not for their symbolic power. They added that because of the close cooperation on this project and the negotiating that went on, Canada will be under more pressure to come to Copenhagen ready to negotiate.

Their biggest message to us: the work of Avaaz and the Action Factory with our skit, our phone calls and letters, as well as those of the Sierra Club and NRDC, had a big impact on this process. That pressure forced them to more fully consider the climate impacts of the project and to include climate change in the statements issued both within the US and to Canada now that the pipeline is approved.

For more information on the next major pipeline project, the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, see the State Department website here:

Also see NRDC's letter here

Putting in place a climate policy that will truly fight global warming needs to happen at all levels - from the negotiations in Copenhagen to the debate in the House and Senate and even to the level of consideration of a pipeline permit. If we allow individual projects to move forward without sufficient analysis of how they link to the goal of building a clean energy future - we undermine our own policy commitments and priorities.

It is not in our national interest to invest in pipelines and refineries that will lock us into the high levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil production, transportation and upgrading. Instead of pipelines for tar sands oil, we need to be building the infrastructure for our clean energy economy so that in the future, we will not depend on oil - and especially not on the even dirtier tar sands oil.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Breaking news: State Department Issues Permit for Alberta Clipper Pipeline

450,000 Barrels/day of Dirty, Climate Destroying Oil to Flow Into US

The decision sat on Clinton's desk for months, and with a stroke of the pen, she could have denied this expansion of dirty energy infrastructure. But today, the State Department issued the permit, committing the US to more CO2 emissions from oil, and committing Canada to more destruction of indigenous lands and Boreal forest. We brought the Tar Sands Monster to Clinton's doorstep, generated thousands of phone calls and emails, but Clinton failed to make the right decision.

From the State Department:

After considerable review and evaluation, on August 20, 2009, the Department issued a Presidential Permit to Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership for the Alberta Clipper pipeline.

Yet they insist that the US and Canada are committed to finding climate solutions:

The State Department will continue to work to ensure that both the United States and Canada take ambitious action to address climate change, and will cooperate with the Canadian government through the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue, the pursuit of comprehensive climate legislation, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Avaaz Action Factory will deliver this letter to the state department tomorrow. Please help us by sending them an email using this as a starting point.

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are very upset about your decision, announced today, to approve the Clipper pipeline that will carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta into the US. If you and the president are truly committed to "reducing overall emissions and leading the global transition to a low-carbon economy," as mentioned in today's release, then this decision is entirely hypocritical. The use of tar sands for energy in the US will certainly increase, not reduce, our overall carbon emissions.

A few weeks ago, we let you know about the problems associated with the construction of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline. We urged you not to approve the destruction of indigenous lands and increased carbon emissions that this pipeline will bring. Hopeful that you would make the right choice, we acted out a skit in front of your office at the State Department, where you rescued Canada, America and the rest of the world from the filthy, evil Tar Sands Monster. We filled up your voicemail box numerous times with phone calls from across the country, and we sent you over 10,000 emails urging you to deny this permit.

Today's statement asserts that this permit approval sends a "positive economic signal." We can't afford to send any more positive economic signals to dirty energy corporations; instead we must only send positive signals to those who are creating green economic prosperity. We have been encouraged by the administration's rhetoric that economic growth and fighting climate change are not in fact mutually exclusive, but this decision does not reflect that perspective.

This oil pipeline will only extend the US’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come instead of reversing global warming and putting the US on a low-carbon track towards green economic prosperity. We're watching your decisions. We are aware of the contradictions between your words and actions, and we are disappointed.


Avaaz Action Factory

Update: Reuters says its OK because the state department took greenhouse gasses into account:

The State Department said it took greenhouse gas emissions into account when deciding to issue the permit, saying that the issue is best addressed through the domestic policies of the United States and Canada and through international agreements.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

A Different Tone for Action Factory at Climate Refugee Camp

Despite the diversity of actions we’ve carried out this summer, the Action Factory has developed a unique ‘Action Factory’ style that rings through nearly all of our actions. Our style is usually comedic and gimmicky, and our message always positive. Rather than highlighting the often dismal political and scientific realities of today’s world, our actions are instead suggestive of the change we desire and the future we envision. At their core, almost all our actions affirm the now-famous clichĂ©, “yes we can”:
Climate change is complex and it’s difficult to talk about complexity in today’s news media, so we at the Action Factory have stayed away from communicating much about the complexities of climate change in our actions. Instead we’ve dumbed things way down for the sake of getting attention and keeping an up-beat tone. This has been very effective and I’m glad that through our actions, we’ve gained a reputation for being optimistic and hopeful -- because we are.

And yet, it is important to step back every once and a while and remember another dimension of this battle. Our tone of optimism about fighting climate change often includes a mouthful of intangible jargon while leaving out an explanation for why we need a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate treaty so urgently. Climate change is not only a great opportunity to create jobs and new prosperity. It is also an urgent crisis that is already impacting many individual human lives and perpetuating current injustices.

This week the Action Factory struck a new tone by setting up a refugee camp outside the state department. With our makeshift tents, blue tarps, and a reasonable ration of food packed in cardboard boxes, we put ourselves in the shoes of people displaced by climate change for over 24 hours.

Our action gave us a brief taste of what it must have felt like to be Katrina climate refugees forced to leave their flooded homes. It allowed us to empathize ever so slightly with Sudanese refugees who have no choice but to flee from the violent Darfur conflict, which has it's roots in drought caused by climate change. We attempted to put ourselves in the shoes of Alaskan villagers forced to relocate as the permafrost that used to support their houses thaws, and try to understand the plight of Carteret islanders who have no choice but to leave their homes because growing crops has become nearly impossible with increased storm surges attributed to climate change.

It was hot, exhausting, and uncomfortable. I lay on my back awake on the pavement at 4:00 am and longed for my bed at home or even a light blanket to protect me from the early morning chill. And yet, of course, I had it easy, relatively speaking. I was a ‘refugee’ for a mere 24 hours, and within walking distance of air-conditioned shops where I was able to take time-outs for cold water, coffee, snacks, and other amenities.

For me, this week's climate refugee camp was especially meaningful because of another type of climate refugees on my mind. This past weekend I took a tour of
long-wall coal mining sites in southwestern Pennsylvania with the Center for Coalfield Justice. During the tour, residents of Washington, PA spoke of contaminated water sources, damaged homes, and communities that are deteriorating. In long-wall mining, coal mining literally occurs directly underneath residents' homes and causes the land to sink down after the coal seam is removed. Many families have begun to move elsewhere as coal mining operations make life unbearable. As I sat in our refugee camp this week, I thought of the many communities impacted by coal mining throughout the US as while as of other impacted communities throughout the world. Given that climate change begins with resource extraction, it seems to me that these families who are displaced when they are pushed out by coal mining ought also to be considered a type of climate refugee. They represent yet another case of human displacement that is part of the climate change story, and I believe we stood in their shoes at our refugee camp outside the state department too. Their saddening stories make an even more compelling case for halting the use of dirty climate-changing fossil fuels immediately.

Putting myself in the shoes of those forced to leave their homes due to flooding, contamination, drought, melting ice and war was crucial in bringing my focus to the individual and community level where climate impacts are felt. More than anything, this action was a wake-up call -- a poignant reminder of my privilege and all that I take for granted. I sincerely hope our refugee camp was a wake-up call to decision-makers at the state department as well. Much is at stake in this battle. While I prefer to look forward towards the new era of prosperity, health, and justice that we can usher in by taking strong action on climate, it is important to remember that climate impacts are already causing pain and turmoil for thousands of individuals worldwide. That’s why Secretary Clinton and Todd Stern need to act with genuine urgency if we are to get a Copenhagen Treaty that has any chance of fighting climate change and creating a more just world.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Ooh, it's hot out here! There's too much carbon in the atmosphere!

I knew it would be hot and humid during our 24-hour campout in front of the State Department, but the utter devastation of the DC summer always manages to surprise me. What keeps me going is thinking about the millions of real climate refugees out there who don’t have the luxury of taking a break to get a cup of coffee in an air-conditioned cafĂ©. Also, we’ve been received really well here, which is invigorating!

When we set up camp 50 yards from the State Department staff entrance at seven o’clock this morning, there was the usual kafuffle with the police arriving and trying to figure out what they could kick us out for. When they found nothing (except for lowering the tops of our makeshift tents to make us look less like we’re camping), they backed off and those that stayed became very friendly and have just been spending the day with us. Even later, when an employee from inside the building called the police asking them to remove us, they came over here and told us that we were doing nothing wrong and to keep up the good work!

Most employees walking by have been very receptive though, and we ran out of our 500 flyers within the first three hours because everyone was so enthusiastically taking them. We’ve gotten lots of smiles, a few peace signs, and just generally feel pretty appreciated which really helps motivate us to keep going.

When we went inside to deliver a letter with our message, a representative from the office of Todd Stern, the US leading climate negotiator for COP 15, came down to talk with us. She said that they recognized us from our previous actions (Clinton's Big Decision on Tar Sands and Todd Stern Needs High Fives) and that they’re happy we’re here. Another lady walking by let us know that she works closely with Stern’s office and that they know we’re here, they know our message, and they appreciate our work.

Even just this much would have made it feel worth it to me, but then the press started to arrive. We staged an informational interview about climate refugees for CNN, cleanskies.tvnews, and Local Channel 9, who covered our entire action with three huge cameras on tripods. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of coverage comes out of that; I really hope this issue gets some of the recognition it deserves.

Please keep following us on twitter @actionfactorydc and watching our blog for updates, because we’ll be here all night. As one passer-by advised us, we’re sticking around and not cutting them any slack!

Secretary Clinton, be a leader! Recognize and protect climate refugees at COP15.

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Greetings from the DC Action Factory tent city!

We are just hours into our 26 hour tent city marathon. We set-up our camp with relative ease, had a not unpleasant chat with the police, and are just now settling down for the long haul. It is quite literally starting to heat up, and despite the cops mandating that we dismantle our overhead tarps, we are doing our best to keep cool. As uncouth as it sounds, at least our project has an end date. For millions of climate refugees across the globe, drought, flooding, disease, or famine make harsh conditions a permanent reality.

It is important, then, that we stand in solidarity with these many millions, and bring their voices to the policy-makers whose decisions will ultimately shape their future. Such action is desperately needed, yet our leaders typically fail in recognizing climate refugees altogether. In high-level talks regarding climate refugees, decision-makers find themselves bogged down in determining even the basic definition of climate refugees (see Morgan's post from last night). It appears that after so much politicking over semantics, world leaders are simply too exhausted to take real steps toward aiding these involuntary migrants.

But according to the International Federation of Red Cross, climate change disasters are currently a bigger cause of population displacement than war and persecution combined: current estimates of the number of climate refugees range from 25 to 50 million worldwide, compared to the official refugee population of 20.8 million. World leaders claim that they do not want to complicate the word "refugee," as if they worry about sullying the term for political exiles. Call them what you will, climate refugees are very real; their stories are harrowing, and their numbers are rapidly growing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict that there will be 150 million climate refugees by 2050.

Our leaders are performing a gross negligence by ignoring the growing refugee crisis caused by global warming. Not only are we destroying their homes with the pollution of the industrial nations, now we are trying to ignore their existence all-together. But we are asking Secretary Clinton to demonstrate a small act of goodwill, take on the mantle of US leadership, and ensure that the world will take action to address the climate refugee crisis in the years to come.

By including language to recognize and protect climate refugees, Clinton will not only take a much-needed moral stance, but also provide for the security of the nation she represents. The millions of people displaced by global warming will inevitably seek asylum elsewhere. Already, rising sea levels caused by climate change are exacerbating tensions between Bangladesh and India, causing India to construct a 2,1000 mile high-tech fence along its border, to cite but one example. The U.S. can expect similar security questions to rapidly arise. Establishing an international process that recognizes, protects, and helps to provide for these refugees will help to prevent a refuge crisis at our own borders.

Currently, there is little or no aid available to climate refugees, unlike conventional refugees protected under current international treaties. The recent, tragic death of Ken Bacon, director of Refugees International, has highlighted his life-long work on refugees, and his recent work in establishing a Climate Refugee Center. Secretary Clinton praised the work of Bacon, even as her department tries to ignore the issue.

Including language recognizing and protecting climate refugees in the Copenhagen agreement is the first step in establishing this process. Secretary Clinton, act now! Otherwise, what will your legacy be?

Follow @actionfactorydc for updates as the protest progresses
Media contact: Kim Huynh/ 904-327-7650
Press conference: Monday, 12:30pm, West entrance to the State Department
For more info:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Protest: State Department Ignores Climate Refugees

Update: Official Press Release Here
Climate change is forcing people to leave their homes, and even forcing entire nations to sink beneath the waves. Yet climate refugees might not even be included in the international climate agreement being developed for Copenhagen.

Photo credit Jennifer Redfearn/Sun Come Up

At last week's Bonn III negotiations (the talks to get ready for the big Copenhagen negotiations), the one line of text that referred to climate refugees was bracketed. That means the text is flagged for possible approval, instead of being firmly included. This slight change makes the US less responsible for the problem. The United States would rather not even use the word 'refugees,' fearing its strong implications, and instead would use the word 'migrants.' Why? Because a 'migrant' is someone who decides to move.

Peoples' homes are being destroyed. They are not going to be moving voluntarily, and any effort to make it seem like they are is a blatant shirking of responsibility on the part of American diplomats, most notably Hillary Clinton.

Tomorrow morning, the Avaaz Climate Action Factory, in solidarity with climate refugees across the world, will erect a refugee camp right in front of the US State Department in Washington DC. We will brave the 95 degree heat to demand that Clinton include language recognizing and protecting climate refugees in the negotiating text.

Action Factory members are working for a global climate treaty that mitigates climate change and protects the world's most vulnerable people. While major emissions reductions in the US remain probably the most important piece of that treaty, other important aspects can and should be advocated for in the run-up to Copenhagen. This includes provisions protecting climate refugees, increased funding for international adaptation, and more money for international clean-tech transfer.

As we near the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, please help us spread the word about the State Department's lack of protection for those who will suffer first and suffer hardest from a warming world.

Follow @actionfactorydc for updates as the protest progresses
Media contact: Kim Huynh/ 904-327-7650
Press conference: Monday, 12:30pm, West entrance to the State Department
For more info:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Bonner and Ass. Pissed us Off

Bonner and Associates pissed us off, so a few of us at the Action Factory, a group of young climate activists living and working in DC, took our clothes off in the rain to demonstrate the NAKED FRAUD of this astroturf lobbying firm.
Bonner and associate, who were working for the Hawthorne Group, whom in turn were working for American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, forged not 1, not 6, but 12 letters to not 1 but 3 congressmen. All three of these companies are outraged, claiming to have fired the 'deviant' employee who supposedly acted on his or her own. They were so 'outraged' that they didn't notify the congressmen who received these letters. They were so 'outraged' that they even forgot that Bonner has been caught using almost the same tactics before, making them look very stupid for hiring them in the first place. That's pretty much blind with outrage.

Once the intense anger of the moment subsided, we grabbed a camera and headed back to Bonner's office first thing Monday morning to get to the bottom of this. Keep in mind, we're not professional journalists, and I apologize in advance if our 'outrage' clouds our judgment on ethical conduct. But, I think that you'll enjoy joining us on this search for democracy. Bonner and Associates seems to have stolen it, so it only made sense to start looking at the scene of the crime...

Some thoughts:
*People seem pretty unsure of whether forging letters is illegal
*We're not legal experts - what are the legal consequences for mail fraud? forging names and signatures? Lying to congress?

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Aliens, Wizards, and Other Made-Up People Oppose Green Jobs

Bonner and Associates (ahem, Hawthorne Group, ahem, ACCCE) couldn't find enough real people to oppose clean energy and green jobs legislation. In fact, the management wouldn't take that 'no' for an answer, and pushed their employees to commit outright mail fraud instead.

(C'mon, seriously, Tom Periello knows the folks who work for the NAACP chapter in his district. He's gonna notice. - catch his interview on Rachel Maddow last night.)

So today, we decided to help the coal industry out a little bit by showing them that made-up people and creatures can have a say in politics! We dressed up as aliens, a wizard, and Little Red Riding Hood and passed out the Sierra Club's hill add to hill staffers getting out of the subway. "Hey, help us kill green jobs!"

Its a testament to hill staffers that at least some of them replied, "No, I like green jobs." Apparently irony isn't the best tactic at 9am. But making up the names of people who oppose climate change legislation? Never a good tactic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

For Obama's Birthday: A Ticket to Copenhagen

For his 48th birthday today, President Obama received a giant ticket to Copenhagen from Avaaz's DC Action Factory. In a street party outside his house - complete with party hats, noisemakers, and music - cardboard cut-out Obama received his birthday gift with a smile. He even blew out all the candles on his special Copenhagen-themed birthday danishes in one breath! (He wished for a strong and binding global climate treaty.)

This December, the President will use his thoughtful birthday present to fly to the UN global climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark. There, he will once again define the United States as a world leader and safeguard this earth for his daughters, Sasha and Malia, their generation, and those to come. And he'll eat more danishes.

At least, that's what we hope he'll do. The Copenhagen negotiations are the world's chance to work together to cut carbon and solve global warming. If America is to be a true world leader, Obama must show up with bells on. His cardboard cut-out was optimistic today, stating that he would accompany his negotiating team, including Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing, to the negotiations this December. But we at the DC Action Factory would like to hear the real Obama commit to attending the treaty talks.

Happy Birthday Obama! Obama to Copenhagen!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Shaping the Story

A lot of the work of the Action Factory is about shaping a story in the public debate. Friday's action was a perfect example. At 11am we were discussing the days news, and the naked fraud of the lobby firm Bonner and Associates was just too blatant and wrong to be ignored. Shifting into action, we were protesting their office at 2:30 that afternoon, stripped down and holding signs saying "Oil and Coal: Naked Fraud"

Working with allies Powershift09 and Friends of the Earth, we produced video and photos that were up on the web within hours. Our goal was to stoke the fires of outrage of what is the most blatant and illegal action in recent months on the part of vested interests and dirty industry. We wanted to provide material for bloggers and media to get this story seen.

Our slideshow ended up on the front page of the Huffington Post. With Huffpo's high ranking on searches, we suddenly placed our story and our images as the top search result for Bonner and Associates, the lobbying firm responsible for this fraud.

In today's short media cycle, rapid response and producing high quality content in hours are the key parts of the game, and that's what we're here to do. Anyone looking for Bonner and Associates is going to see our naked, outraged faces calling out the fraud of that firm.

Lets take this to the next level and make sure that the perpetrators of this fraud are called out. This is bigger than one 'bad employee' and its bigger than one lobbying firm.

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Buff Climate Strongmen: The Envy of EPW Senators

Last Thursday, just before news broke of the Naked Fraud committed by fossil fuel lobbyists prior to the house vote on ACES, the Climate Strongmen made the trek to Capitol Hill once again. These honest advocates are speaking on behalf of 300,000 Americans rather than on behalf of greedy oil executives, and they are speaking the truth. This time, the Climate Strongmen flexed their climate bill muscles both inside and outside of a Senate Hearing on Climate Change and National Security. In honor of the hearing theme, the strongmen wore hats with stars and stripes in order to remind Senators that passing a strong US climate bill isn't simply about going along with the rest of the world - it is about protecting our own national interests and making America stronger. Ensuring the stability of countries most vulnerable to climate change will ultimately be a down payment on the future security of the United States. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil will mean that more American dollars will stay in the US and be invested in clean energy technologies here at home. A strong US climate bill will boster the American economy rather than support potential foreign threats.

Three climate strongmen sat inside the hearing with small signs stating the crucial role that a strong climate bill will play in ensuring the safety and security of the US. The strongmen were quite visible and despite their wit, Senator Lautenberg did not seem impressed by their humor. For the duration of the hearing, 3 additional Strongmen worked up a sweat in the hallway by a door where EPW committee members entered and exited the hearing. There the Strongmen greeted Senators and their staffers, encouraging them to adopt a rigorous climate workout routine. They had friendly exchanges with Senators from both sides of the aisle including chairwoman Boxer, and Senators Carper, Lautenberg, Cardin, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Udall, Merkley, Inhofe, Barrasso, Bond, and Alexander.

Senators Klobuchar an
d Carper took particular interest in the Climate Strongmen and thanked them for their efforts. Envying the Strongmen’s burly muscles, these senators pledged to work harder to buff up the climate bill in the weeks to come in order to attempt to make it as strong and bold as the Climate Strongmen. Yet they didn't seem to have the energy or motivation to flex their muscles in the Dirksen hallway.

Even Senator Inhofe, who has historically been unconcerned about climate change and doubtful of the risks that a weak and out-of-shape climate bill poses to America, was curious to know where the Climate Strongmen learned their brilliant workout routine and responded in a friendly manner when the Strongmen asked him to flex his climate muscles.

The Strongmen were excited to have the opportunity to show their strength and hope for a stronger climate bill to so many senators directly, and were glad to hear that many of these senators are committed to setting more ambitious CO2 fat reduction goals. Yet the Strongmen are not impressed with the stamina of the senate and really hope to see senators step up their ambition in the coming weeks. Perhaps the senate recess will give senators a chance to work out, so that they come back in September ready to make their climate bill harder, better, faster, and stronger. And only time will tell where the Climate Strongmen may show up next.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Photos and Video: No more Naked Fraud!

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Action Alert: Protest in front of Bonner and Associates for naked fraud!


A DC Lobbying firm stole the trademarked logo and organizational name of the NAACP and a community group in Charlottesville, VA and wrote a letter purporting to oppose the ACES bill in the house.

This is a prime example of dirty money fueling lies in DC. It is an affront to Democracy and a hindrance to passing the climate legislation our country desperately needs. We need to call them out and make this a national story.


What: Picket / Rally outside of the perpetrators' offices. Visuals will include "naked" lobbyists holding signs admitting to "naked fraud" and climate destruction.

Where: 1101 17th St NW (Near Farragut Square Metro stops)

When: 2:30 PM, Friday July 31.

Who: Avaaz Climate Action Factory and YOU!


from the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

Forged letters to congressman anger local groups

By Brian McNeill

Published: July 31, 2009

As U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was considering how to vote on an important
piece of climate change legislation in June, the freshman
congressman’s office received at least six letters from two
Charlottesville-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the

The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.

“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position
title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter
and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim
Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a
nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s
Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines
Americans’ faith in democracy.”

The faked letter from Creciendo Juntos was signed by “Marisse K.
Acevado, Asst Member Coordinator,” an identity and position at
Creciendo Juntos that do not exist.

The person who sent the letter has not been identified, but he or she
was employed by a Washington lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates.

Gwynn Geiger Hegyi, a partner with the company, traveled to
Charlottesville to apologize to Creciendo Juntos’ chairwoman Dilcia
Colindres and sent a letter to Freilich.

“As I shared with Dilcia when I travelled to Charlottesville last
month to personally apologize for the mistake which we discovered and
contacted you about, we immediately fired the person on our staff
responsible for the error,” Hegyi wrote in the July 22 letter to

Hegyi and others at Bonner & Associates did not return two phone calls
Thursday seeking comment for this story.

More than a ‘mistake’

In a letter notifying Perriello’s office about the matter, Freilich
said he was “offended” by Hegyi’s characterization of the forged
letter as a “mistake.”

“This was not a ‘mistake,’” wrote Freilich, who is also legal director
of the Immigrant Advocacy Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center.
“This was a deliberately and carefully forged letter that used the
logo, address and name of Creciendo Juntos without authorization.
Additionally, I understand from Ms. Hegyi that our organization was
not the only Charlottesville-area organization whose reputations were
used in an unauthorized manner to try to influence Congressman
Perriello on this particular vote.”

After being notified of the bogus Creciendo Juntos letter, staffers in
Perriello’s office realized that the wording of the letter sounded

The staffers dug through the stacks of thousands of letters, e-mails
and faxes Perriello received about the bill — the American Clean
Energy and Security Act of 2009 — and found five more forged letters,
these purportedly from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the

M. Rick Turner, president of the local NAACP branch, said he checked
his organization’s roster and found none of the five people who signed
their name to the five faked letters.

NAACP ‘very appalled’

“I am very appalled as the president that our organization has been
misrepresented in this way by this bogus … letter,” Turner said. “I
hope that whoever’s behind this will be brought to justice.”

In fact, Turner said, the NAACP supports the American Clean Energy and
Security Act, as he said it would create good-paying jobs for blacks
and reduce harmful emissions, particularly in urban areas.

“Clean energy creates jobs in the urban setting,” he said.

The fake NAACP letters were faxed to Perriello’s office from the
Arlington headquarters of a company called Professional Risk
Management Services Inc. A representative of the company said she had
no knowledge of why the fax would have been sent from her office,
adding that at least 60 employees have access to the fax machine.

Perriello’s press secretary, Jessica Barba, said the congressman’s
office knows of only the five forged letters, but there may be others
they have not yet discovered.

“There could be more, but these are the only ones that we’re aware of
right now,” she said.

With regards to the Creciendo Juntos letter, it is not known who — if
anyone — hired Bonner & Associates to lobby against the bill, which
also is known as cap-and-trade legislation. The staffer who the
company said was fired may not have been working in any official
capacity when he or she created and mailed the forgery.

Bonner & Associates was founded in 1984 by Jack Bonner and is
considered a pioneer in the field of “strategic grassroots,” in which
the firm manages grassroots campaigns on behalf of its clients, which
have included Fortune 500 companies and national associations in all
50 states.

Artificial campaign

The AARP Bulletin reported in 2006 that the “60 Plus Association”
hired Bonner & Associates in 2003 to manage what it called an
“Astroturf” campaign against prescription drug legislation in
Minnesota and New Mexico, meaning that it was an artificial version of
a grassroots campaign.

Bonner & Associates hired callers to identify themselves as members of
the 60 Plus Association and urge residents to ask their governors to
veto the legislation. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer later admitted
that it had paid Bonner & Associates to undertake the campaign, AARP

An examination of lobbyist disclosure forms filed with the Office of
the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives shows that Bonner &
Associates did not register to lobby on behalf of any company or
organization against the cap-and-trade bill.

However, a lobbying firm only needs to disclose their clients if the
client pays them more than $3,000 in a filing period, at least one
employee spends 20 percent of their time lobbying, and that employee
made at least two lobbying contacts within the filing period. Managing
a grassroots campaign might not require public disclosure of lobbying
activities or clients.

Bonner & Associates has disclosed a few clients in recent years. For
example, the company took in $150,000 to lobby on behalf of the
Electric Utility Shareholders Alliance between 1998 and 2000,
according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.

In a report Wednesday, the Center for Responsive Politics revealed
that oil and gas companies greatly increased their spending on
lobbying between April and June, primarily because of the
cap-and-trade energy bill. During the second quarter of 2009, these
companies spent $37.7 million on lobbying congress, representing a 30
percent increase over 2008.

Perriello ultimately voted in favor of the bill, which narrowly passed
the House on June 26 in a 219 to 212 vote. The bill is now before the
U.S. Senate.

Perriello’s vote has drawn the ire of some critics who say the measure
will increase electricity bill costs and eliminate jobs.

Barba, however, criticized the bill’s opponents for the forged letters.

“It’s very unfortunate that opponents of this bill would resort to
deception and made-up letters,” she said. “Spreading false information
is not healthy for real debate in our democracy. Congressman Perriello
voted in favor of the bill because of its potential to create clean
energy jobs, which is why the NAACP and many other groups supported
the legislation in the first place.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Todd Stern Needs High Fives

Mysterious youngsters clad with monochromatic signs asking for a “Strong Global Climate Treaty” appeared early Thursday morning in front of the State Department Building in Washington DC.

State employees as well as unaware commuters were welcomed by the unusual sight of individuals aligned down the street holding signs that read “Strong Global Climate Treaty, Needs Todd Stern, Todd Stern, Needs Hope, High Five,” where one of them masked as Todd Stern (Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United States) awaited them with a raised hand ready to receive the support that he needs in the form of high fives.

Besides providing an unusual sight and an unfamiliar welcome to State Department employees, these young people are holding Mr. Stern accountable for the responsibilities that his position entails, and asking him to step up and push congress to provide America with a stronger climate bill, which will in turn allow the United States to have a positive presence in Copenhagen this December at the International Climate Change Negotiations.

While the tactic used by the group to convey their message may be lighthearted, their ask is serious: A strong Global Climate Treaty is not only necessary, it's urgent. The administration, including President Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton, along with the White House and State Department, must be held accountable for the promises they made on the campaign trail and continue to make in office. Supporting strong climate legislation is the most effective way to keep their promises and ensure that America leads the world to a clean energy future.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

The Fatal Flaw in Climate Messaging

After attending half a dozen hearings on the various climate change bills that have been going through the House and now the Senate, I have noticed a trend in framing that makes me incredibly angry.

There is constant talk about the “clean energy future” and all of our “green jobs” but in all the talking and debating there is no mention of why we are fighting to make these changes. There is hardly ever a mention of the 300,000 people who are dying, the endless amounts of agriculture that are going to be lost, or that entire countries are going to be under water in less than 20 years. They never talk about the fact that global warming could lead to the end of human existence. That is why we have to change our behavior now.

To be completely honest, I don’t think this lack of connections between policy and global warming is purely the fault of the elected officials. I have often caught myself forgetting why I am an activist and why I work on solving global warming. And if I’m forgetting that I am in the movement then what can we expect to see from the general public and our elected officials. The general public doesn’t make the connection between catastrophes such as hurricane Katrina and a dramatic increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They just don’t understand what global warming is and what it means for people right now.

This is a fatal flaw for the climate movement. The issue is complex and the framing is lost. The connections are there but they have to be illustrated. As an active force in the climate movement we, as young people, cannot forget to keep making the connections. When we talk about our energy future, we have to say we need it to prevent additional carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. When we tell people to paint their roofs white or change their light bulbs, we need to say that these small steps should be paired with larger steps by Congress to pass aggressive legislation.

Overall, we need to reconnect to the heart of global warming and remember why we need to innovate. We cannot forget the risk that is in place if we don’t do these things and we have to tell that story to the public. We have to make the connection that to us is so intuitive. It needs to be spelled out. If not, we won’t get everyone on board and without everyone, we are doomed.

For more specific information

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

More Info on Clinton and Oil Sands

Watch this video from the Action Factory in front of the State Department.

Also, you can find our press release and flyer.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Clinton's Big Decision on Tar Sands

Secretary Clinton’s pen could prevent a new pipeline that would suck filthy tar-sands into the US. This morning, the Avaaz Action Factory in DC showed the State Department just how terrible the oil sands are, and how much of a climate hero Clinton can be.

During the DC morning rush hour activists with the Avaaz Action Factory headed to the State Department equipped with a kiddie pool of tar sands mixture, and a big banner stating: “Clinton be a Leader. Say No to Tar Sands, Stop Global Warming.” About 1000 State Department employees walked by a battle between Super Climate Clinton and the Tar Sands Monster on their way to work.
Action Factory members constructed a Boreal forest on the sidewalk in front of the State Department. There, the heartless corporate executives plotted to exploit US and Canadian dependence on oil by promoting tar sands extraction. The Tar Sands Monster, encouraged by the executives, awoke and dragged the oil-addicted US and Canada down into the dirty tar sand pit, pulling the rest of the world with them!

The world's only hope was Super Climate Clinton who faced a big decision: Should she rescue the countries trapped by the Tar Sands Monster? Or should she give in to the sleazy oil executives and approve an oil pipeline that would extend the U.S.’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come?

Executives from Shell Oil and the Royal Bank of Canada, the largest financier of oil sands extraction, distracted and mislead Super Climate Clinton, knowing that if she examined the situation she wouldn't approve. But Clinton heard the loud calls for help from the United States, Canada, and Mother Earth. Once Clinton actually looked and saw the filthy destruction in the Boreal forests, she rescued the trapped countries, beat the dirty Tar Sands monster back and chased away the corporate executives.

Secretary Clinton has the power to stop a major expansion of dirty oil production, but she needs to act quickly. The Obama campaign has promised a transformative switch to a clean energy economy, but his administration's actions on mountain top removal coal mining and oil sands expansion have yet to live up to his word.

Furthermore, Secretary Clinton just returned from a highly publicized trip to India where the media reported that she ‘clashed’ with the developing nation over an agreement on reducing emissions. Denying this pipeline is a big opportunity for Clinton to come back from this blow and make crucial call to prevent expansion of oil sands extraction.

Clinton hopefully got our message, but she'll definitely get it if you join us in taking action:

What you can do:
Call the US State Department at (202) 647-4000 and ask for Secretary Clinton’s representative and ask her to turn down the Clipper Pipeline and say no to dirty energy expansion.

Then post to your facebook wall or tweet: I just called Clinton asking her to stop prevent a dirty #oilsands pipeline into the US. (link)

Today's action is part of a much larger effort involving the Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club and many more groups fighting to stop tar sands extraction.

  • Oil Sands projects are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution in Canada.
  • Production of oil from tar sands bitumen produces between 3 and 5 times the greenhouse gas pollution of conventional oil production.

There has been a push to get off ‘foreign oil’ and stop sending money to the middle east. Whether you consider Canadian oil to be foreign or not (obviously it is), these discussions miss the point: Oil causes climate change, and we need to stop developing new sources of oil, new infrastructure for oil and instead focus on climate change solutions.

That’s why this pipeline is critical. A major piece of infrastructure will make it that much harder to phase out the use of dirty fossil fuels, which is one of the reasons the backers of this project are pushing so hard to get this through without even a public debate.

Clipper Pipeline

Enbridge wants to build a 1,000-mile pipeline to transport crude oil from the Alberta Oil Sands to Superior, Wisconsin. The 36-inch Alberta Clipper Pipeline would carry up to 450,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Hardisty, Alberta (Canada) to refineries in the United States — primarily in the Midwest.

Graphic: Minnesota Public Radio/Enbridge.

In the United States, the Alberta Clipper Pipeline would extend 326 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border near Neche, North Dakota across northern Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.
For more information on action to stop oil sands, check out and the Indigenous Environmental Network
For more information about the Avaaz Action Factory, check out

By Morgan Goodwin and Heather Kangas, Action Factory DC. Photos by Christine Irvine

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Climate Astronauts Boogie Down for Carbon Cuts

After a busy day in the Senate buildings, the Avaaz Action Factory Climate Astronauts made a special appearance outside of Union Station yesterday afternoon to boogie down for carbon emissions reductions. Their message was simple: when the U.S. decided to put man on the moon, we succeeded within a decade; let's make the same commitment to cutting carbon by 40% in the next ten years! I'll moonwalk for that.

Passers-by with peaked interest received flyers explaining the necessity of passing a strong Senate climate bill which includes aggressive carbon emissions reduction targets. Some folks even stopped to join the festivities, declaring their dedication to solving global warming through dance.

But wait! The climate astronauts are not yet through - they will not rest until their disco demands are met. Keep your eyes peeled next week, same climate astronaut time, same climate astronaut channel, in case they strike with their stellar strut once again...

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Want to help with a Tar Sands Action Tomorrow?

Tomorrow morning (Friday morning) the Action Factory will doing street theater in front of the State Department to protest the Canadian tar sands that the United States is accepting.

"In the Canadian Boreal forest just downstream of the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains are the Canadian tar sands. The region contains some 2 trillion barrels of oil, but getting to it will mean destroying an area larger than the state of Florida.

Tar sands consist of heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen. Extraction entails burning natural gas to generate enough heat and steam to melt the oil out of the sand. As many as five barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of oil"

Hillary Clinton must sign off on a cross-boarder pipeline VERY soon. This cross-boarder pipeline will go between Alberta and Minnesota and allow tar sands to be passed to refineries in the United States. We believe the United States must say NO to fossil fuels and instead start investing in renewable energy. If the United States continues to accept dirty energy it will make it near-impossible for them to be the real climate leaders they must be at the U.N. negotiations.

Meet - 7:40 at the Park on the corner of E and 23rd st. NW(close to the Foggy Bottom metro stop)

Details - You'll either be holding a banner or flyering near the skit. (BASIC SKIT: Tar sands monster, US, Canada, Earth are in the kiddy pool. Tar sands monster is attacking and harassing the US, Canada, and Earth. Hillary clinton is standing on the side debating what she should do about the situation. The oil execs start pushing clinton away from the situation but she continues to look around at what's happening. After some moral decision making she decides to save america, canada, and earth from the tar sands. The crowd is nearby cheering and booing at various times throughout the day.)

Length - The action will last till around 8:30

Please email Morgan if you are able to make it!

Thanks so much! Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

What Can the US Do in 10 Years?

I was one of 7 Astronauts who stood up in today's EPW senate hearing to deliver an unmistakable message to our senators, both allies and obstructionists: be as bold as the Apollo mission. Fully clad in space suits complete with the NASA logo, the Avaaz Action Factory stood up in the middle of the hearing and unfurled our banners.

"What can the US do in 10 years?" The first banner asked. "Put a man on the moon (check); cut co2 40% (dotted-line-check)." said the 2nd.

Responses in the room ranged from excited smiles and laughs to uncomfortable grimaces. Senators Boxer and Sanders didn't reach for the gavel to call for order. A confused capitol police officer kindly asked us to sit, but didn't kick us out. After 15 minutes, another officer asked us into the hallway but let us back in after a warning. Walking in and out of the hearing twice only added to our visibility because of the bright and shiny NASA suits we all had on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Will Gillibrand Score a Home Run for Climate?

In their second public appearance on Tuesday, the Strongmen and women showed up in full force this evening at Guy Mason Field for the first ever Congressional Women’s Softball match. Why? To cheer on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) of course!

With climate-themed ball game cheers, the Strongpeople attracted much attention and joined Gillibrand’s staff in pumping her up throughout the game. She seemed to recognize the Strongpeople, having seen them in the morning at an Environment and Public Works hearing. After the game, Gillibrand was excited to shake all of the Strongpeoples’ strong, muscular hands as they congratulated her on her excellent pitching and batting skills. The Strongpeople told her how much they are counting on her to “hit the climate bill out of the park too” and be a climate champion. They gave her a commemorative bat with information about ways to strengthen climate legislation and lead the US toward a global treaty in Copenhagen. The Senator thanked the Strongpeople for their advocacy and accepted the gifts graciously.
Senator Gillibrand is in a unique position to be a climate champion in the senate. She sits on the three committees that will probably play the largest role in piecing together a bill: Environment and Public Works, Agriculture, and Foreign Relations. To date, her statements on climate change are encouraging, including a recent indication that she “will use every bit of persuasive power” to restore the EPA’s authority to regulate pollution from old coal-fired power plants in the Senate version of the bill. This important EPA oversight is not included in the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill. Given that she sits on Foreign Relations as well as EPW, Gillibrand is also poised to help strengthen international finance provisions for adaptation and clean tech transfer. These oft-forgotten components of a US climate bill will mean a lot at international negotiations, and whether or not Gillibrand will lead in these areas as well remains to be seen.

Tonight, Senator Gillibrand played hard and even scored a run. The Strongpeople hope to see her do the same if not better in the Senate as the climate bill moves forward.

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Strongmen/women want Strong Climate Bill

In this morning’s Environment and Public Works Senate committee hearing, youth once again pushed for HARDER oversight of dirty coal plants, BETTER funding for international adaptation and clean tech measures, FASTER 2020 emissions reduction targets, and overall STRONGER domestic climate legislation leading up to Copenhagen. Six youth dressed in muscle suits and “HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER” work-out tees filled a full row in the hearing room, and came face to face with Senator Boxer and other committee members.

The “strong” visual brought whispers of interest and cell-phone photos from hearing attendees and press. The strongmen/women also let out a burst of clapping after one witness's testimony about the need to put a cap on carbon emissions. In response, Senator Boxer thanked demonstrators for their presence despite calling for order in the room. After a drawn-out debate over nuclear plants between the Chairwoman and Senator Alexander, the Avaaz strongmen/women stood in unison and slowly filed out of the room, creating a human wall of the STRONGER message.

The presence at today’s hearing follows Avaaz’s current theme: over the past week, the strongmen have visited another EPW hearing, delivered 5-pound barbells to committee member offices, created a “STRONG” aerial photo, and performed a core strengthening workout routine in the offices of primary targets. With their continued coaching, hopefully the senators will beef up and flex their legislative muscles to pass a strong climate bill. Stay tuned for another appearance of Avaaz's strongmen and women.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Avaaz Action Factory helps Senators pump it up and make a STRONG climate bill.

With youth leading the workout routine, and the EPA spotting them with good oversight, the Senate can qualify for the Climate Olympics in Copenhagen.
Photo credit: Christine Irvine
This week the bell sounded for round 2 of the US climate change legislative hurdling event with the opening hearing of Sen Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Over 100 youth organized by the Avaaz Climate Action Factory DC were there, in senators faces, showing them how to get a strong climate bill. Kanye West and Daft Punk provided the inspiration for the week with the theme: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Harder - oversight on coal plants.
Better - Renewable Portfolio Standard and investments in international adaptation.
Faster - emissions reductions targets.
STRONGER - leadership in the Senate and a stronger bill!

Tuesday, July 7th: first EPW hearing on Climate Bill
The Strongmen stormed the capitol! 6 activists in muscle costumes greeted senators going into the hearing, to flex their legislative muscles and strengthen the bill. Despite getting there at 7am for a 10am hearing, too many paid line-sitters were saving seats for lobbyists, preventing the Strongmen from entering. Their presence in the hallway was still impressive because it afforded the opportunity to talk to the press and flex for all the staff. The Strongmen also greeted energy secretary Steven Chu and Senators Kerry and Lugar walking in and out of the Foreign Relations Committee meeting room across the hall. Quote from Senator Kerry: "Stronger Climate Bill? Lets make it happen!"

Tuesday Afternoon: EPW Follow up
The Action Factory Strongmen visited 18 of the 19 senators offices on the EPW committee that afternoon to do personal workout routines. (Senator Inhoffe was skipped as he is too woefully out of shape to participate.) Workout routines consisted of three easy steps: 4 reps reaching high into the air to hit 40% reductions by 2020, three reps of five for 5% of allocations for international adaptation, 5% for REDD and 5% for clean tech transfer. And finally, since congress needs someone to spot them on the big lifts, we asked the EPA to provide oversight. Strongmen left bar-bells as presents in the offices, as well as teaching the receptionists how to do the workout for their bosses.

Thursday, July 9th: Aerial photo and more office visits:
As part of the Campus Progress lobby day, the Action Factory stepped up to organize a mass-action involving over 60 people in a guerilla aerial photo. Co-organizing with Energy Action Coalition and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a team of letter captains, 50 volunteers walked into the Senate Hart office building and formed a ‘flash-mob’ spelling out STRONG in front of the baffled police. (See above photo)

This rapid-response call for a STRONG bill was followed by a group of 30 in strongmen outfits, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger shirts and Powershift09 shirts to visit the offices of primary targets in the fight for a strong climate bill: Senators Levin (D-MI), Snow (R-ME) and McCaskill (D-MO).

The visit to McCaskil’s office was particularly relevant because she has repeatedly expressed concern that the climate bill is ‘too strong’ (to paraphrase). With the Strongmen’s help, Claire can beef up her stance on climate, provide the green jobs Missourians want and the international leadership the world needs.

Avaaz Action Factories:
Avaaz has formed action factories at two strategic locations in Europe and in Washington DC to gather and deploy youth climate activists. Each location houses 15+ 'Youth Climate Fellows' working as a team, and supported by These fellows are devoting their summer months to mobilizing stunts, lobbying campaigns, and other actions. The work of these activists will maximize the possibility of achieving a strong binding global climate treaty at Copenhagen, and will raise the expectations and demands of the global public that governments must achieve such a treaty.

Photos Here:

Media Coverage:

Roll Call - Covers news and gossip on Capitol Hill - Online news magazine with broad national reach and diverse readership

Free Speech Radio News - national blog on green politics, lifestyle, products and issues

Wonkroom - Center for American Progress blog

CNN - Lou Dobbs - Brief appearance on environmental groups not having a fair fight against big-money lobbyists.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty


Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Yes, the title of a Daft Punk song, but also these four words represent what we, young people fighting to stop global warming, are calling for in the Senate climate bill.

This afternoon the Avaaz DC Action Factory, along with Campus Progress and EAC, made another large push for the senate to create a stronger climate bill by physically spelling out the word “STRONG” inside of the Hart Senate Office Building. We took advantage of the eight-story atrium to creatively pose for an “aerial” photo that literally embodies our message. We saw staffers and interns stop copying papers and answering phones to decipher the word from balconies and windows on the floors above. The photograph will soon be delivered to these staffers to remind them that the global youth are actively participating in the climate debate.

The “STONG” message is essential because the House American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) passed on Friday June 26th is not aggressive enough. Congress is currently debating the Senate bill in committee and we are hoping to see a vote on it before the December UNFCCC negotiations this December in Copenhagen. It is critical that we demand more from the senate bill than we saw in the ACES bill. We need harder oversight on coal plants, better renewable portfolio standard and investments in international adaptation, faster emissions reduction targets and, more generally, stronger leadership and a stronger bill.

The action also brought back the strongmen that we used on Tuesday of this week during the first Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on climate legislation. The positive response that we received on Tusesday led us to continue the “stronger” message and utilize the strongman gimmick as we flooded the offices of senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Carl Levin (D-MI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME). We presented these swing-vote Senators with a Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger t-shirt and performed the exercise routine to better illustrate what we need in a strong climate bill. The image of 30 young people flexing and stretching in Senate offices is a sight these staffers are unlikely to forget as they mark-up the bill in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Photo courtesy of Roll Call:

Yesterday we flexed our muscles in the senate, teaching senators on the Environment and Public Works committee about how they can bulk up to make the climate bill Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Tomorrow, we need your help to send an even bigger message to the senate. We're calling for:

Harder - oversight on coal plants.

Better - Renewable Portfolio Standard and investments in international adaptation.

Faster - emissions reductions targets.

STRONGER - leadership in the Senate and a stronger bill!

How are we doing to do that? By posing for a huge aerial photo spelling out the word STRONGER for the senate. But we need 80 people to make this happen. Can you be at the upper senate park at 12:30 pm tomorrow? Sign up on Facebook here.

Organized by Avaaz Action Factory DC, the Energy Action Coalition and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty


This morning, half a dozen youth in strongmen costumes showed up to pump iron and flex their climate bill “muscles” in Dirksen 406. Why? Because the first post-ACES Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on climate legislation took place there at 10 am today.
I was surprised to see such a clever ploy espousing that Congress must pass a stronger climate bill than the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday, June 26th.

During the hearing the strongmen proceeded with their “climate bill workout” to illustrate the metaphor of strengthening the bill and encouraging Senators to “flex their own legislative muscles.” These antics were not only amusing and set a very friendly and light-hearted tone to the hearing, it clearly pushed the issue of creating a “strong” bill. They are pushing to buff up the climate bill which will prove to the world that the U.S. is serious about stopping global warming--and persuade our country and others to agree to an effective and equitable global climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. As articulated by the trainer to his brawny trainees, “Now, let’s build up the muscles for our strong, global climate treaty!”

And, if the muscle suits didn’t allude to the issue enough, each muscleman wore a t-shirt with “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” on them. The popular song by Daft Punk, later remade by Kanye West, correlated with the more specific asks of harder oversight on coal plants, better renewable portfolio standard and investments in international adaptation, faster emissions reduction targets and, more generally, stronger leadership and a stronger bill.

This action was also paired up with a series of deliveries to the offices of the Environment and Public Works Committee members. Later in the afternoon, the same strongmen traveled from office to office, delivering custom designed 5lb weights all encouraging the Senators to bulk up the meat of the climate bill and “lose 40% of carbon emission fat.” The 5lb dumbbells themselves represented the 5-5-5% targets for the international provisions in the bill. The dumbbells also had best exercising practices and even recommended that Congress “consult its personal trainer, the EPA, periodically to keep on track with the science.”
The connections between a total body workout and creating a binding treaty were both humorous and clever and I personally thought it was amusing to have a play off of the American culture of desiring a fit body by eating hamburgers and drinking diet soda. This, much like our current climate bill and Congressional process, is not a way to achieve our “target weight.” It is wonderful to see the youth climate movement pushing our senators to be more aggressive right off the bat with the first hearing in a fun and witty way that turns heads and demands the real targets our national and international communities need.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

Rapid Response: Tell the G8 to Keep it Under 2 Degrees C

This is the latest action alert from button_transparent

Join the call for a strong climate treaty!
There are only months left to build a strong global climate treaty -- but some G8 countries are putting its future in doubt.

The G8, meeting in Rome this week, is weighing a pledge to limit global warming below 2 degrees centigrade, the level at which scientists say a deadly climate chain reaction becomes dangerously likely. Canada, Japan, and Russia are trying to veto the 2-degree limit -- and an immediate global outcry is needed to rescue it. Add your name to the petition, and Avaaz will deliver it with stunts and meetings in Rome this Wednesday and Thursday!

We call on our leaders to go to Copenhagen and sign a global climate deal that is:

AMBITIOUS: enough to leave a planet safe for us all.
FAIR: for the poorest countries that did not cause climate change but are suffering most from it.
BINDING: with real targets that can be legally monitored and enforced.
Start now. Harper, Medvedev, Aso, and other leaders gathered in Italy--agree a 2-degree target!
Sign the petition here, and stay tuned for updates of youth climate action throughout the week.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Action Factory DC - Towards a Strong Global Climate Treaty

International Youth Push Sweden to "Clean up the EU's Act" on Climate Leadership

A group of young people dressed in white HAZMAT suits and green hard hats arrived at the Swedish Embassy this morning to encourage bold climate change leadership as a cornerstone of Sweden’s EU presidency. The climate advocates urged Sweden to “Clean up the EU’s Act” before the crucial international climate negotiations that will take place in Copenhagen this December.

Concerned that the EU has fallen behind as a climate champion in recent years, the group delivered a petition along with a variety of fictitious cleaning products to Lars Roth, Second Secretary for Trade and Economic Affairs at the Embassy, in order to help Sweden “clean up the EU’s Act”. These included the “Green Clean Economy Scrubber,” described as being “tough on climate change, soft on economies,” the “Bail-out Mop Bucket” for “bailing out small island nations as they go under water due to rising sea levels” and the “2020 Target Stain Remover,” a stain remover that that young advocates claimed “reduces 45% of CO2 stains by 2020,” – a reference to the CO2 reduction target that the group is urging all industrialized countries to commit to in Copenhagen. They also delivered "Copenhagen Clorox" and "Forest Sponges" to help soak up CO2.

A similar group in Berlin, Germany gained attention at the Swedish Embassy there on Wednesday. They also called for Sweden to “Clean up the EU’s Act” and got their message across by using a pressure washer to create “reverse graffiti” on the streets outside the Swedish Embassy in Berlin.

Sweden has already identified climate policy as a top EU priority in the coming months and the group encouraged Sweden’s leadership while highlighting specific aspects of climate policy that are crucial for a strong international treaty. Specifically, the group hopes to see the EU commit to providing substantial ‘adaptation funds’ to developing countries most affected by climate change, and ‘tech transfer’ to help developing countries get onto low-carbon development paths. Examples include providing agricultural assistance to countries experiencing extreme drought due to climate change and helping small island states build levies or relocate climate refugees.

The group also called for Sweden to lead the EU to commit to the short term reduction target of 40% reductions below 1990 levels by 2020 and to temperature stabilization at 1.5°C of warming above pre-industrial levels. Few industrialized countries have committed to these goals, which are necessary for avoiding catastrophic warming.

The climate advocates work with the international advocacy organization, which has 3.5 million members worldwide, including 34,000 in Sweden and over 1.5 million throughout Europe.

Watch the video on YouTube!