We Are Still In and We’re Feeling Hopeful

"We Are Still In" (WASI) logo that resembles the American flag, with the words "Time to Step up" and "Keep America's Pledge on Climate"

As part of the Global Climate Action Summit, Cool Choices staff attended a We Are Still In (WASI) Forum at the California Academy of Sciences. The Global Action Climate Summit was a weeklong series of events to take climate action to the next level.

We Are Still In is a network of more than 3,500 U.S. cities, states, businesses, universities, and faith communities that have signed a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Paris Climate Treaty.

Committing to Do More

During the Global Action Climate Summit, business and community leaders announced ambitious commitments to preserve resources, reduce waste, and mitigate climate change. California Governor Jerry Brown committed the state to achieving economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045, a goal that’s breathtaking in its ambition.

Media coverage of the summit was limited. Ironically, the climate summit competed with news about Hurricane Florence, an East Coast storm that was more powerful and more damaging due to climate change.

More, though, ambitious pledges do not make for exciting news coverage because it’s a story about good intentions. Not only is there no danger or clear villain, the full story isn’t yet complete. Cynics might well say “sure, they made a promise, but will they really do it?”

And of course that’s why pledges matter. When we make public commitments, whether as individuals or on behalf of communities or businesses, these commitments really do influence our actions moving forward. Humans have a strong need to be seen as consistent by fulfilling their public promises. Having hundreds of major institutions commit to deep changes is definitely noteworthy.

The pledges are most powerful if we all pay attention to what’s pledged and what’s accomplished as a part of those pledges. So pay attention, and when you see an entity making progress on their commitments, congratulate them. This is hard work, and positive reinforcement helps everyone achieve deeper results.

Collaborating in New Ways

In addition to announcing ambitious goals, the We Are Still In (WASI) forum provided opportunities for stakeholders to collaborate on specific climate challenges ranging from transportation and renewables to methane leaks. Other Global Climate Action Summit events also reinforced the potential for new collaborations.

Climate change is a wicked problem—which means addressing it will require new strategies that ultimately involve all of us. That means we need innovative ways of thinking about collaboration and potential synergies.

WASI Forum speakers included folks from cultural institutions, such as zoos and museums– the places where Americans engage with our environment, our history, and our future. It’s exciting to think about how those institutions can help move the climate conversation forward.

It was exhilarating to talk in small groups, to compare strategies, and to share insights. The conversations affirmed that we’re so much stronger and smarter together, and that the We Are Still In network can reduce U.S. emissions while enhancing public health and environmental justice.

Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about how Cool Choices can help your community or business accelerate its sustainability efforts.

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