This Week’s Headlines
“Bleakest Warning Yet.” On Monday, the United Nations released its second report in a series of reports designed to assess the global climate crisis. The report is a complete condemnation of world leaders and points to a rapidly closing window to avoid irreversible catastrophe.
Russia Invades Ukraine: The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released a statement condemning the Russian invasion and standing in solidarity with Ukrainian peoples’ right to self-determination, as well as highlighting the need to make the switch to renewable energy as a matter of national security. The Michigan LCV staff and boards stand firmly with the people of Ukraine as the country grapples with the horror and violence inflicted by this devastating crisis.
President Biden Delivers State of the Union Address: Last night President Biden delivered his first State of the Union Address. Largely focused on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, climate was mentioned twice briefly. What was not mentioned by name was the President’s own domestic agenda: the “Build Back Better Act.” Biden signaled support for the climate provisions, lowering prescription drug costs and investing in the care economy in a new frame to “fight inflation… and lower the deficit.” Rep. Rashida Tlaib delivered a response to the SOTU for the Working Families Party calling for Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act and for President Biden to address the climate crisis.
A Deeper Dive
The most recent United Nations climate report paints a bleak picture of how the world will be impacted by the climate crisis. Outlined in an “Atlas of Human Suffering,” you can see how the climate crisis will impact every inhabited region on Earth. The last line of the report reads:
“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”
We are seeing these impacts in real time as Queensland and New South Wales on Australia’s southeast coast are grappling with the worst flooding seen in decades. Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes, while thousands of others have been rescued from rising flood waters. Up to 50 people were rescued from a bridge where they were stranded Tuesday morning when both ends of the roadway submerged.
A man paddled his canoe through a flooded neighborhood in southeast Australia
With the UN report forecasting a grim future, the crisis in Ukraine is an unfortunate example of the importance of transitioning to renewable energy as a national security priority. Clean energy has long been acknowledged as a national security issue as global dependence on fossil fuels has forced the United States and global powers to compromise democratic values for energy security. Coupled with sanctions imposed by the international community, Russia’s infringement on Ukrainian sovereignty will likely inflate fossil fuel costs and cause energy uncertainty.
In an act of blatant war profiteering, fossil fuel companies have called for increased oil and gas production despite fossil fuel dependency being one of the root causes of the ongoing crisis. Increasing fossil fuel production will not solve issues of energy insecurity or bring the cost of oil and gas down in the short term. Instead of locking the world into decades of fossil fuel use, it is in the best interests of national security and the health of our planet to rapidly transition to renewable energy in a holistic and equitable way.
Germany has signaled it will be increasing the speed of their transition to renewables in wake of the Russian invasion. The door is open for the U.S. to follow suit. By passing bold climate action legislation in Congress, we will ensure our energy independence and national security while simultaneously addressing the climate crisis.
The Michigan LCV Difference
Today the national League of Conservation Voters released its 2021 National Environmental Scorecard, an assessment of how federal lawmakers in Congress voted on key environmental legislation. Given how tumultuous 2021 was for our climate and democracy, the 2021 Scorecard includes, for the first time since 1970, scores on votes on the peaceful transfer of power and the outcome of elections.
Michigan’s Congressional delegation received a mixed bag of report cards for their 2021 votes, with the vast majority of good/bad scores falling along party lines. Michigan’s U.S. Senators – Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters – both received 100% scores for their 2021 votes, one of 18 states where this was the case.
In the House, Reps. Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Brenda Lawrence, Andy Levin, Elissa Slotkin, and Haley Stevens all received 100% scores, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib received a score of 95% (due to an asterix noting that she was not present for a vote on a resolution on Statehood for Washington, D.C., which she strongly supports and is the pro-environment/pro-democracy vote). Rep. Fred Upton received a score of 48% and Rep. Peter Meijer received a score of 43%, although none of Michigan’s Congressional Republicans received scores higher than 50%.
You can check out the full 2021 National Environmental Scorecard (in English and Spanish) at scorecard.lcv.org, as well as Michigan LCV’s state-focused scorecard and our broader Accountability Suite, to see how your lawmakers voted on the important environmental, climate and democracy issues in 2021.
On Friday at noon, Michigan LCV (with partners Green Door Initiative, Eastside Community Network, and Groundmind Strategies) are hosting a webinar with Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence. We hope to continue to shed light on the intense challenges facing Michiganders from climate impacts like flooding, and have a discussion about solutions to help residents recover as well as prepare our communities for future impacts. Register at this link to reserve your spot or check out the Facebook event for more information.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!