Draft Program on Climate Change for the RC Community[1]


Our goal in RC is to halt climate change as part of ending all oppression and the exploitation of all people, all life, and the Earth.  Our economic system, with its embedded drive for profits, has shown itself to be incompatible with a sustainable society that supports life. Ultimately, we must replace our economic system with a rational economy.  Our draft program should propose radical reforms that move us toward long-term transformative change.

Our draft program acknowledges that our history of genocide, oppression, exploitation, and war has shaped a world where the majority of people most impacted by climate change have been denied the resources to recover from or adapt to those impacts and increasingly suffer the effects. Solutions, including making a just transition to a sustainable clean energy economy, must be led by these populations and they should be the first to benefit from this transition. Making these changes will require a huge, coordinated global effort, a redistribution of the use of already accumulated wealth toward this end, and a rational economy that provides the means for a good life for all while living lightly on the Earth. 

The majority of climate thinkers conclude that there is still time to avoid catastrophic consequences if we act intelligently now. We are at a critical and historic time, and the steps we take in the next decade will have effects over many future generations. We have the chance to play that significant a role in the future of living species on this Earth.

OVERALL PROGRAM: Implement policies that will halt climate change quickly enough to avoid catastrophic consequences, that are devastating to human life and the environment.  This means stabilizing global temperature rise at no more than 1.5°C as quickly as possible and by 2030 as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, Global Warming of 1.5C (2018 IPCC Report).  (Summary)

Resilient Communities

Protect the use of the Earth’s limited water supply and prioritize its use for the purpose of sustaining all life.

End patterns of exploitation and replace our current profit- and growth-based economies with economies that meet the real needs of humans and other life forms and that protect, restore, and sustain our global environment.

Provide resources to make communities climate resilient so that they provide everyone, especially frontline[2] and vulnerable populations[3], what is needed to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.  This could include affordable housing, health care, education and job training, food and clean water. 

Support the leadership and sovereignty of indigenous nations and tribal peoples who have tens of thousands of years of experience effectively sustaining their lands and adapting to change. Support the preservation, revitalization, and widespread adoption of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK, also known as indigenous science) practices. Protect those practices from exploitation.  Honor the treaties, the leadership and experience of Native people, and their sovereign rights (recognized or not).  (If treaty obligations between sovereign nations were upheld, that would be a big step toward resolving climate change.)  

Reduce population growth by creating the conditions where women can control their own bodies and reproduction without compromise, including through voluntary family planning, human rights for women, and education and opportunity for girls and young women.[4]

All national, tribal, state, provincial, and local governments enact and enforce policies that are in accordance with this draft program. Require all industries and businesses to make ending climate change part of their goals above being profitable, in line with the Paris Agreement. All national governments immediately strengthen and meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to reduce GHG emissions under the Paris Agreement[5] and the 2018 IPCC Report.


Engage in every way to meet a 1.5°C (or lower) climate stabilization goal as recommended in the 2018 IPCC Report.  Work to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement[6], conducting itself in line with this draft program

Rapidly reduce fossil fuel[7] use, production (including fracking), exploration, infrastructure, and subsidies.

Refocus tribal, national, and local economies on a fossil-free future, budgeting the necessary resources to meet these goals.

Reduce energy consumption through conservation. Improve energy efficiency at all levels of use.

Prioritizing community-based/community-led solutions, develop renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, small scale and micro-hydro[8], as well as storage and delivery systems, and convert to all-electric power usage.

Decommission existing nuclear reactors where they can be replaced with renewable energy.[9] No new current generation nuclear reactors should be built.  

Ensure that rapidly reducing GHG emissions and decommissioning nuclear reactors not be at the expense of workers in the affected industries. Support training (with pay) and resources for workers in the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, the military, and other related institutions and industries that need to be phased out to achieve the emissions reduction goal.

Agriculture, Land Use, and Food

Support the wide adoption of climate friendly farming techniques that reduce emissions from producing crops and livestock and/or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in soil and perennial plants like trees.

Support methods that make farm and grazing land more productive with agroecological[10]  techniques, which can also reduce pressure on forests.

Reduce emissions from deforestation and industrial agriculture by greatly reducing consumption of livestock protein in the Global North and putting strong limits on biofuel.[11] End deforestation while backing the leadership of and protecting the sovereignty and stewardship of indigenous peoples.

End agricultural subsidies that support inefficient and polluting practices.

Promote, where possible, local food production and consumption.  Support food sovereignty[12] for frontline communities. 

Reduce and compost food waste.[13] 

Protect and restore natural carbon sinks (such as oceans, forests, and wetlands), with full engagement of, inclusion of, and leadership by the people who inhabit that place.[14] 

Develop new safe, affordable, and effective practices and technologies to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it. 


End war and support universal demilitarization.

Use military budgets to fund the transition to a sustainable, “clean energy,” future.


Reorganize our societies so people live and work in local communities and reduce reliance on travel and shipping.

Provide widespread and affordable access to public transportation powered by renewables. 

Provide lowest emissions commercial shipping and air travel, while reducing air travel.

Transition to all-electric vehicles.

Manufacturing, Buildings, and Consumption

Adopt low and zero emissions construction materials and techniques.  Change our industrial economy to one with more efficient use and re-use of materials.

Design and construct new buildings and rehabilitate existing buildings to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly, primarily in the Global North, with priority to low-income communities.

Reduce consumption, primarily in the Global North, through lifestyle change and zero-waste[15] strategies.   Rethink whole industries that generate GHG emissions with limited human value, such as armaments, fashion, advertising, psychopharmacology, and beautification.

Global Coordination

Ensure that the Global North[16] provides the necessary technological and financial assistance to the Global South[17] so they may create and/or implement locally-appropriate initiatives that enable them to adapt to climate change, mitigate its effects on their populations, stay on their own land, and rapidly gain access to renewable energy[18] and carbon farming techniques.[19]

End policies that limit the rights of climate migrants, refugees, and displaced people seeking the right to a safe and dignified life in a new land.  Recognize that there can be a conflict that will need to be resolved between safeguarding sovereign native rights to their land and the needs of these populations of migrants.

Organize Internationally and Locally

Communicate to people everywhere about climate change: the causes (including human distress recordings), results, disparate impact, and solutions in a way that will move them to take individual and collective actions in support of this draft program.

Build an international movement committed to ending climate change as part of transforming society to one that ends the exploitation of humans, all forms of oppression, irrational and destructive use of resources, and creates a sustainable, equitable future for all humans, all life on earth, and the planet.

Join organizations focused on climate change and work with these organizations to: (a) back the leadership of indigenous people, people of the global majority, poor and working class people, women and youth, (b) assist people to understand and address the connections between climate change, racism, genocide, and other oppressions, and the economic system that both drives and benefits from them; (c) educate people about and implement elements of the above program as part of the work of the organization, and (d) support the work of the organization by building relationships, supporting good leadership, helping with its work, and introducing the tools and practices of RC.

Join organizations focused on social justice and ending oppression and work with them to (a) understand and address the connections between their issues and climate change, (b) educate people about and implement elements of the above program as part of the work of the organization, and (c) support the work of the organization by building relationships, supporting good leadership, helping with its work, and introducing the tools and practices of RC.

Encourage these groups to build alliances to end climate change, environmental degradation, capitalism, oppression, war, and poverty and create an equitable, sustainable future.

Advocate and agitate for good policy and action wherever you are, through whatever means you have.  Where possible, seek to end patterns of exploitation and advocate for transformative change (ending class society) rather than simply reform.  When working for reforms, use the opportunity to create the conditions for people to understand the need for transformative change and move toward it. Include nonviolent strategies of protest, resistance, and direct action in support of this program.

Other things we can do in our personal lives:

Develop your personal program to reduce GHG: 

While the massive changes that are needed will require action by every level of government, industry, and all institutions; personal changes are also required, and especially by those of us in the Global North.

One way to start would be to develop a personal program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in your household. Set a goal to reduce your emissions by 10% (and another 10% when the first goal is achieved, and so on) and research how you can accomplish that, addressing each point above that is relevant in your family. Develop a plan that all family members can participate in. Try your plan for a week and see if it reduced emissions. How was it for you and your family? Have a session about it and see if you need to revise your plan. Can you then involve another family in your neighborhood in trying it for a week with you? Could it become a neighborhood project?  A town project?

Develop your personal program to support drawdown of GHG:

Learn about how you can help preserve carbon sinks in your geographical region and implement practices that support these efforts, for example: gardening that restores soil carbon and planting trees. Is anyone near you involved in these efforts? Would they welcome you and others in their efforts?

 From the Draft Policy for Care of the Environment:

We can work on climate change in our Co-Counseling sessions:

  • We can identify and discharge the early distresses that keep us from facing the present situation and working toward a solution.
  • We can take the RC care of the environment goal into sessions and make it a personal goal.
  • We can stay connected to others and the environment as we do this work.
  • We can reclaim our connection with and love for the earth.
  • We can discharge on the connection between climate change and racism, classism, genocide, sexism, and other oppressions.
  • We can discharge regularly on feelings of discouragement, fear, powerlessness, and helplessness.

We can address climate change in our RC Communities:

  • We can work in our classes and workshops on the RC care of the environment goal, the draft policy, and draft program, and help people make them their own.
  • We can hold support groups, classes, and workshops on climate change and the connection between climate change and oppression.
  • We can support RCers—especially People of the Global Majority, Indigenous people, working-class people, and young people—who are taking leadership on climate change.
  • We can go public (with the necessary approval) with listening projects and other efforts to take RC into the world.
  • We can bring together groups of RCers who are thinking and acting toward solutions and strategize about next steps and a long-term plan.
  • We can talk to, listen to, and counsel RCers who are not yet looking at climate change.
  • We can support the projects of Sustaining All Life, United to End Racism, and No Limits for Women.
  • We can unite across all constituencies in support of the work on climate change.
  • We can build the RC Community.

We can also take action out in the world. Here are some actions with a short-term effect:

  • We can ensure that People of the Global Majority, Indigenous people, young people, working-class people, disabled people, and women are listened to and respected and that members of these groups are supported as leaders.
  • We can help organizations and leaders in the climate movement to lead more effectively by sharing the tools, theory and practice of RC with them.
  • We can organize our neighbors to reduce energy use, plant trees, and so on.
  • We can support excellent leadership on climate change.
  • We can reduce green house gas emissions and consumption, especially those of us in the countries contributing the most greenhouse gas emissions.
  • We can model diversity and unity in our activism.
  • We can act locally.
  • We can donate funds.
  • We can voice our thoughts on climate change to our political leaders.
  • We can take work on the climate into all the organizations we are part of.
  • We can build a broad-based coalition of groups, across race and class lines, that will make ending climate change one of its platforms.

Here are some actions with a long-term effect:

  • We can change educational systems to prepare all young people to actively participate in building a sustainable, just society.
  • We can work to end war.
  • We can work to end all oppression.
  • We can always build unity.
  • We can work to find a rational economic system that is in everyone’s interest.

 Send comments to Diane Shisk <ircc@rc.org>


[1] This program will not repeat that which is included in the Wide World Change draft policy and program [being written concurrently] or in other draft liberation policy statements. It focuses only on actions specific to climate change. In the future we will develop a much shorter version, adapt this for wide world use, and encourage more detailed local versions to be developed. Note that there is also a need for a Draft Program on the Environment, much broader in scope than this topic. More detailed information on all of these issues can be found in the article Why We Prioritize Addressing Climate Change.

[2] We define frontline populations as indigenous and tribal peoples, people of the global majority, poor and working-class people, and women—who experience the brunt of the impacts of climate change globally.

[3] We define vulnerable populations as people with disabilities, children, older people, homeless and displaced people, and people in institutions—populations often not considered in developing climate change policy.

[4] Primary mechanisms could include ending sexism and sexual coercion, improving education of girls, educating girls and boys about sexual coercion and family planning, and providing free and universal access to rational and safe birth control.

[5] The Global North must reduce emissions in line with principles of equity (the idea that countries with more responsibility for causing the problem, and more capacity to act, should do more than those who lack capacity and contributed few emissions).

[6] By the terms of the Paris Agreement, the U.S. remains a party until November 2020.

[7] Oil, coal, natural gas, and liquified natural gas

[8] Mega-dams should not be supported because they destroy local ecosystems and take land, often from poor and indigenous people.

[9] Nuclear reactors are unsafe, expensive, and harmful to life and the environment. But we would not decommission them if it requires they be replaced with fossil fuel power sources, which would result in emissions that are more dangerous at this time than the reactors.

[10] Agricultural practices that don’t sacrifice people or ecosystems, such as growing different types of crops together.

[11] Agriculture and land use (mostly deforestation) are responsible for about a quarter of human emissions. Rising demand for meat and biofuel is the main cause of deforestation, which causes tremendous emissions of carbon dioxide.  Livestock production produces less food per hectare or acre than food plants. Acknowledge that there are climates that do not sustain enough plant food year-round and tribal peoples who rely on meat to survive. (In some areas like dry grasslands, livestock production can be the most productive form of food production available.)

[12] Food sovereignty is the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

[13] Food waste in landfills is also a major source of methane, which can be reduced by composting and other techniques.

[14] When indigenous and tribal people have sovereign rights to their forest land, emissions from deforestation and degradation are greatly reduced.

[15] Adopting Zero Waste plans and practices will result in significant reductions in consumption and trash disposal in the short-term and eventual complete elimination of waste. This includes increased recycling, reuse and composting as well as reduction in consumption of materials.

[16] The Global North is defined here as those nations (and their enterprises) that dominate global policies and have enriched themselves at least in part through colonialism, imperialism, genocide, and slavery. They have used those resources to support rapid industrialization of their own nations. The majority of the buildup of GHG emissions in the atmosphere is a result, and these nations continue to add to the carbon pollution.

[17] We define the Global South as those nations, tribes, and peoples who have been the subjects of colonialism, imperialism, genocide, and enslavement. Because there has not been widespread industrialization in the countries and among the peoples of the Global South (many of whom live in the countries of the Global North), they have contributed little to global warming resulting from GHG emissions. Their lack of access to resources, in large part resulting from their exploitation by the Global North, interferes with their ability to adapt to climate change and mitigate its impact on their population.

[18] This is to avoid the destructive path taken by the Global North. It is in everyone’s interest that the Global South not pursue a fossil fuel-based economy and instead be provided needed resources to build their economies as they determine using renewable energy sources.

[19] This includes insuring that the Global North fulfills its commitment to mobilize US$100 billion per year in climate finance from public and private sources for developing countries by 2020.

Last modified: 2019-02-07 22:54:26+00