The American Academy of Arts & Sciences recently launched the final report from the Commission on Accelerating Climate Action, Forging Climate Solutions: How to Accelerate Action Across America. The report calls for a coordinated, cross-sector effort to combat climate change with five strategies and 21 recommendations rooted in justice, pragmatism, and accountability.
The event featured a panel conversation with Scientific American’s Laura Helmuth and the Commission’s four co-chairs: Mustafa Santiago Ali (National Wildlife Federation, and Revitalization Strategies), Christopher Field (Stanford University), David G. Victor (University of California, San Diego, and the Brookings Institution), and Patricia Vincent-Collawn (PNM Resources). The event was held in Washington D.C.
"The Academy was founded to take on the nation's greatest challenges, and the threat posed by climate change is existential. This is one of the most diverse coalitions to engage with this issue, and the report offers a roadmap for transcending ideological divisions to achieve tangible climate progress,” said David Oxtoby, President of the Academy and member of the Commission.
Over two years, the co-chairs led the 31-member Commission, which brought together expertise spanning the arts, faith communities, environmental justice, youth activism, the natural and social sciences, Indigenous people and Indigenous Knowledge, public health, and urban design. "The Academy started out with this idea that we needed to be diverse in age, ethnicity, ideology, all sorts of things," said Vincent-Collawn of the Commission. "We looked very long and hard to make sure that we had that wonderful collection of individuals that could rise above their personal differences.”
The report provides a blueprint for mobilizing investments, building infrastructure, reducing emissions, and preparing for the impacts of climate change. It argues that climate solutions should benefit all communities, particularly those on the front lines of climate impacts, and suggests ways that environmental justice considerations can be integrated into decisions about energy development and adaptation investments. In addition to recommendations, the report features over 25 case studies, which showcase a wealth of promising practices from across the country.
During the event, Ali shone a spotlight on one of these case studies: The Regenesis Project in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which used public-private partnerships to transform a grant of $20,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice into hundreds of millions of dollars in community investment. “Many communities have both housing needs, transportation needs, they have needs to hold communities together in a cultural way. They have the need to create jobs and embrace a new clean economy. This project took a $20,000 environmental program that folks were talking about getting rid of and leveraged over $300 million in changes.”
“People need to see real projects and benefits,” said Field of the case studies, suggesting that the climate movement was quickly transitioning from one driven by theoretical concerns into one characterized by massive investment and infrastructure-building.
Forging Climate Solutions aims to meet this present moment with a long-term blueprint for climate action. “You have to put together, then hold together, a durable coalition that spans ideology,” adds Victor. “This is a transformation of the economy, and it can't happen in a sprint.”
Watch the full recording of the launch event.
Read the recommendations, case studies, and more at amacad.org/climate.