Seek Influential Allies to Achieve Your Climate Goals

To broaden your regional impact as a climate advocate, take a cue from these two cases.

This article is part of a special series from our fall 2019 climate issue on how you can level up your actions against climate change. Visiter the full Climate Action Guide here

Once you've gotten a hold on your own carbon emissions, and after you've started championing climate-friendly actions around your town, the next step you can take as a climate advocate is to get involved on a state or regional level. To have a chance at putting a dent in your region's carbon emissions, though, you'll need others on your team, and you'll also have to get creative, even forming surprising partnerships to achieve your end goal. 

While most people are aware of the obvious carbon culprits in their area, they often forget about other entities that have large carbon footprints—hospitals, universities and colleges, or major corprorations. Consider turning your advocacy in these directions and looking for ways to reduce their total emissions and adapt climate-friendly practices. Businesses don't just have to be a target, either. They can also be a partner to influence others or help see certain legislation through.

What exactly does all this look like? Here are two case studies for inspiriation. 

Powerhouse Schools

Colleges and universities often have massive carbon footprints. Whether you’re a member of the local community or a student, view them as possible partners for your advocacy. Students for a Sustainable Stanford, for example, has taken on transportation at the California university. In 2016, the student group partnered with others on a program that offset all of the flights taken by varsity teams the previous year, which amounted to 2,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide. They keep pushing, too. This year, in an op-ed to The Stanford Daily, two members of the group urged the university to reduce its Scope 3 emissions, which includes business travel and commuters and accounted for 47,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018. 

Big Business

Walmart is the largest employer in the United States and in Arkansas, where the multinational corporation is based. The retailer set a goal of powering its operations with 50 percent renewable energy by 2025. So when Gary Moody, interim executive director of Audubon Arkansas, wrote a bill to expand solar energy in the state, he wanted Walmart as an ally: Politicians might not listen to him alone, but he had a shot with the goliath company by his side, which also brought the economy and jobs into the conversation. Ultimately, support from Walmart and dozens of other businesses that came aboard helped sway state leaders. The bill was signed into law in March 2019.