Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oxfam America: Unwrapped!

What would the holiday season be without its requisite onslaught of holiday gift ideas? Well, here's one that is fantastic and fits any price range: Oxfam America's Unwrapped. For only $40, you can donate a dozen chicks to a family in need; for $25 you can provide a child with school supplies for a year, for $125 you can buy a camel; or for $30 you can plant 50 trees and help a community while also protecting the environment by capturing carbon!

Another climate-friendly idea come by way of the One Day campaign where A Brighter Planet offsets your emissions for a day - check it out!

Whatever you end up doing, have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oxfam America Hunger Banquet: What Now?

This blog post goes out to all of you who attended our Oxfam America Hunger Banquet this past Saturday and are in search of some meaningful ways to be involved in the cause of advocating for climate equity. I share only a few ideas -- there are MANY ways to make a difference -- and invite you to reply with other ideas!

First of all, thank you so much for your participation. Hopefully, the stories shared Saturday evening have sparked an interest in you to get involved or have re-fed your existing drive to make a difference. Wherever you stand, I'd like to offer up some ideas for where to channel that energy.

1. Join the Vermont Oxfam Action Corps!
As you can tell from browsing the blog, we are a group of grassroots volunteers who meet once a month to decide how we can make the most impact in educating, raising awareness, and advocating on behalf of climate justice. We consist of professionals, students, business people, religious leaders, non-profit leaders, and regular ol' Vermonters. We decide as a group what the most effective use of our time and energy is and are continually striving to build a community of concerned citizens who will mobilize when the time is right to call up our Senators and Representative in support of just legislation.

Our next community-wide event will be a screening of Sisters on the Planet -- a
film which highlights the story of four women from Uganda, Brazil, Bangladesh,
and the US Gulf Coast -- on International Women's Day (March 1st) at
Burlington's Main Street Landing. Mark your calendars!

If you would like to participate in planning this event, please join us for our
next monthly meeting on Monday, January 12th at 6pm, at the Skinny Pancake.

2. Be a part of the work being done by any of the organizations presented during the Hunger Banquet or other local groups.
Our Oxfam America Hunger Banquet guest speakers and performers are each involved in amazing causes of their own. Climate Justice is just one piece of the struggle to alleviate world hunger and poverty, so if this doesn't float your boat, please follow your passion and get involved in organization that most attracts YOU! Below is a small list of some of our allies in this struggle. Please visit their websites for more information on their campaigns and how to get involved:
  • Association of Africans Living in Vermont. Alex Pial inspired us with his story of a lifelong journey from war-torn Sudan to his current activism on behalf of the friends and family he left behind.
  • NeighborKeepers. Dr. Hal Colston shed light on solutions that strengthen communities, one family at a time, through his anti-poverty non-profit, NeighborKeepers.
  • African Djolie lifted our spirits with music and dance of West Africa. Much of the money they raise goes to feeding and supporting poor communities in Guinea.
  • Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. Although Joanne Heidkamp was not able to be with us on Saturday night, her work at the VCECH does a lot to reverse inequity that exists right here in Vermont.
  • Vermont Interfaith Power and Light. Betsy Hardy is an ally to the climate equity campaign and works on her own part to mobilize spiritual communities to do their part to Eco-teams, energy audits, and a local conference.
  • The Legacy Project. This "Vision for a Sustainable Burlington" promotes 4 E's: Environmental Protection, Social Equity, Education, and Economic Development.
  • The Peace & Justice Center. Is there really any way to talk about social justice initiatives in Burlington without mentioning the PJC? Go here to educate yourself on the issues and be a part of a larger community working towards the interconnected issues of economic and racial justice, peace, and human rights through education, advocacy, training, nonviolent activism and community organizing.
3. Educate those closest to you on the issue.
At some point in our lives, each of us has to stop and reflect on the limits of our abilities. During the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, Lee H. Gross, a graduate fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont shared a story regarding the "power of one" and his group of close friends who host an annual "Uganda-thon" to raise money for a community in need. All of the time, and energy put into these events, and all of the money raised and projects completed as a result of the events, can be directly linked back to the energy of a single person.

Strive to be that stone which causes the ripple effect. You have the power to make a difference, if only through educating those closest to you and making throughtful personal and consumer choices.

4. Visit with, call, email, or write a letter to your elected official
When I started getting involved in this work, I was the tiniest bit put off by the lack of "sexiness" to this work. Although I have marched in both Burlington and the Bronx, raising awareness about climate equity, the most impactful work consists of communicating this message to the folks in power to make a difference. Figuring out way to engage our elected officials, Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch, is how we'll be able to move forward on this issue.

You have profound power simply in your ability to vote. Look into the track record of these three men and I'm sure you'll be proud of who we have representing us on Capitol Hill. They are open to constituent input and will respond to your requests. However, the more people get involved in advocating for the climate equity, the more likely it is that the matter will be prioritized among our politicians.

5. Write a letter to the editor or otherwise publish your thoughts on climate equity in a local publication.
The power of a written statement is incredible! Think about how many people read the paper in the morning and about how many of us browse the internet for our news. By getting published, through an article or a letter to the editor, climate equity will be brought to the forefront of the public mind. A nicely timed can be even more effective.

6. Donate your time, energy, or money to the cause.
The Vermont Oxfam Action Corps is not a fund raising entity. We are volunteer-run and are happy to stay that way, but it is all too obvious that, as individuals, we vote with our dollar. When purchasing, consider the ways in which you may be perpetuating hunger and poverty around the world and adjust your actions whenever possible. Buy fair trade goods or buy local when you can afford it.

Similarly, there are many organizations doing amazing work, Oxfam America being one of them! If you're still in the middle of your holiday shopping, consider stopping at the Oxfam America UnWrapped website where you can buy a goat or a desk or a water filter or dozen chickens for a poor community in the name of a beloved.

Several charity rating guides exist which help you determine which organizations will do the most with the money ou are able to send and donations are always tax-deductible. However, if you don't have money to give, consider investing your most vaulable resource -- your time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Burlington Hunger Banquet

Poverty and hunger are for the most part out of sight and therefore out of mind for most of us.

This holiday season, however, you are invited to an event that promises to call our attention to the injustice of the world and challenge us to do something about it.

The Oxfam Action-Corps is bringing a number of Vermont's leading social justice, anti-hunger, and environmental activists together for an Oxfam Hunger Banquet. The banquet will include stories, singing, and a meal designed to simulate the real life conditions of disparity separarating the world's richest and poorest populations.

WARNING: You may not get your fair share!

The skinny:

Date: Saturday, December 6th Time:
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Location: McClure Multigenerational Center 241 North Winooski Ave.
Burlington, VT


Hal Colston of NeighborKeepers
Joanne Heidkamp of the VT Campaign to End Childhood Hunger
Alex Pial of the Visiting Nurse Association

This event is FREE and promises to be an empowering experience facilitated by community leaders advocating on behalf of the poor and vulnerable communities here in Vermont as well as in the developing world.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October Monthly Meeting

6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. — Davis Student Center - The Handy Family Room

Join UVM students and community activists of the Vermont Oxfam Action Corps in planning a Hunger Banquet for early December. Meetings are open to anyone interested in getting involved with the climate equity campaign or simply interested being a part of the struggle against hunger, poverty, and injustice. To learn more about local actions by the Oxfam Action Corps, please visit or email

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green Economy Report from U.N. Environment Program


NEW YORK, 24 September 2008 - A new, landmark study on the impact of
an emerging global "green economy" on the world of work says efforts to
tackle climate change could result in the creation of millions of new
"green jobs" in the coming decades.

The new report 1/ entitled Green Jobs: Towards Decent work in a
Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, says changing patterns of employment and
investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects
are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies, and could
create millions more in both developed and developing countries.

Please click here to read the entire UNEP Green Economies Report

Environment chief lied to Congress: Sen. Boxer

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lied to Congress about his rejection of a request from California meant to curb global warming emissions, Sen. Barbara Boxer said on Tuesday.

Boxer, a California Democrat who has called for EPA chief Stephen Johnson to resign, made the statement at a hearing on regulation of greenhouse gases under the U.S. Clean Air Act. Read more

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Waxman Letter: Principles for Global Warming Legislation

**PLEASE NOTE: Representatives Markey, Waxman and Inslee released this letter on April 22, 2008 and are currently circulating to House Members for additional support.

Rep. Markey, Rep. Waxman, and Rep. Inslee Release

Principles for Global Warming Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC — Today on Earth Day, three Congressional leaders on climate and energy issues laid out principles for any effective legislative solution to the challenge of global warming. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey and Rep. Jay Inslee released “Principles for Global Warming Legislation,” which are designed to provide a framework for Congress as it produces legislation to establish an economy-wide mandatory program to cut global warming emissions. Reps. Waxman, Markey, and Inslee are inviting their colleagues to join them in supporting these principles and conveying their support to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has made enacting legislation to address global warming a top priority for Congress.

“The dangers of global warming are too large to ignore,” said Rep. Waxman. “We must listen to the science and start making major reductions in CO2 emissions. Our principles lay out a just and effective approach to fight global warming and build a clean energy economy.”

“These are legislative principles, and they are planetary principles as well,” said Rep. Markey. “Any solution to global warming must cut pollution, help people, and encourage profits from a clean energy economy. These climate tenets give Congress a roadmap for an economy-wide solution to our climate challenge.”

“Last week, the president outlined a can’t-do policy for a can-do people,” said Rep. Inslee. “These principles lay the groundwork for a bold climate policy that is consistent with our nation’s need for aggressive emissions reductions and our technological capabilities.”

The principles establish a framework for global warming legislation that will avoid the most catastrophic levels of global warming and assist those harmed by the warming that is unavoidable, while strengthening our economy.

The principles recognize four key goals for global warming legislation:

1) Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;
2) Transition America to a clean energy economy;
3) Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and
4) Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.

The principles include the following elements: strong science-based targets for near-term and long-term emissions reductions; auctioning emissions allowances rather than giving them to polluting industries; investing auction revenues in clean energy technologies; returning auction proceeds to consumers, workers, and communities to offset any economic impacts; and dedicating a portion of auction proceeds to help states, communities, vulnerable developing countries, and ecosystems address harm from the degree of global warming that is now unavoidable.

Rep. Markey is the Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Waxman is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Inslee is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a senior member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

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The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Madam Speaker,

We salute your leadership on one of the critical issues of our time: the effort to save the planet from calamitous global warming. You have listened to the scientists and recognized the scope and severity of the threat that global warming poses to our nation’s security, economy, public health, and ecosystems. You have made enacting legislation to address global warming a top priority for Congress for the first time in our history. We stand ready to help develop this legislation and enact it into law.

As part of this effort, we have developed a set of principles to guide Congress as it produces legislation to establish an economy-wide mandatory program to address the threat of global warming. Acting in accordance with these principles is critical to achieving a fair and effective bill that will avoid the most dangerous global warming and assist those harmed by the warming that is unavoidable, while strengthening our economy.

The following are the principles we have developed to guide the creation of comprehensive global warming legislation.

Comprehensive legislation to address global warming must achieve four key goals:

1. Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;

2. Transition America to a clean energy economy;

3. Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and

4. Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.

To meet each of these goals, climate change legislation must include the following key elements.

Reduce Emissions to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming

The United States must do its part to keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels. The scientific community warns that above this level, dangerous and irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate are predicted to occur. To meet this goal, the legislation must:

Cap and cut global warming emissions to science-based levels with short and long-term targets. Total U.S. emissions must be capped by a date certain, decline every year, be reduced to 15% to 20% below current levels in 2020, and fall to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Review and respond to advancing climate science. The effects of global warming are happening much faster than scientists predicted several years ago, and there may be tipping points at which irreversible effects occur at lower levels of greenhouse gas concentrations than previously predicted. A mechanism for periodic scientific review is necessary, and EPA, and other agencies as appropriate, must adjust the regulatory response if the latest science indicates that more reductions are needed.

Make emissions targets certain and enforceable. Our strong existing environmental laws depend on enforceable requirements, rigorous monitoring and reporting of emissions, public input and transparent implementation, and government and citizen enforcement. All of these elements must be included in comprehensive global warming legislation. Cost-containment measures must not break the cap on global warming pollution. Any offsets must be real, additional, verifiable, permanent, and enforceable. The percentage of required emissions reductions that may be met with offsets should be strictly limited, and should be increased only to the extent that there is greater certainty that the offsets will not compromise the program’s environmental integrity.

Require the United States to engage with other nations to reduce emissions through commitments and incentives. The United States must reengage in the international negotiations to establish binding emissions reductions goals under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The legislation must encourage developing countries to reduce emissions by assisting such countries to avoid deforestation and to adopt clean energy technologies. This is a cost-effective way for the United States and other developed nations to achieve combined emissions reductions of at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, as called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Transition America to a Clean Energy Economy

Global warming legislation provides an opportunity to create new jobs, while transforming the way we live and work through renewable energy, green buildings, clean vehicles, and advanced technologies. To realize this opportunity, the legislation must:

Invest in the best clean energy and efficiency technologies. A significant portion of revenues from auctioning emissions allowances should be invested in clean energy and efficiency measures, targeted to technologies and practices that are cleaner, cheaper, safer, and faster than conventional technologies, as determined through the application of clear standards set by Congress.

Include and encourage complementary policies. Complementary policies can lower program costs by producing lower-cost emissions reductions from economic sectors and activities that are less sensitive to a price signal. Smart growth measures, green building policies, and electricity sector efficiency policies are important types of complementary policies. The legislation should include federal complementary policies and encourage state and local complementary policies in areas better addressed by states and localities.

Preserve states’ authorities to protect their citizens. Federal global warming requirements must be a floor, not a ceiling, on states’ ability to protect their citizens’ health and state resources. Throughout our history, states have pioneered policies that the nation has subsequently adopted. Addressing global warming requires state and local efforts, as well as national ones.

Recognize and Minimize Any Economic Impacts from Global Warming Legislation

Reducing global warming pollution will likely have some manageable costs, which would be far lower than the costs of inaction. To minimize any economic impacts, the legislation must:

Use public assets for public benefit in a fair and transparent way. Emissions allowances should be auctioned with the revenues going to benefit the public, and any free allocations should produce public benefits. If any allocations are given to polluters, they must be provided only to existing facilities for a brief transition period and the quantity must be limited to avoid windfall profits.

Return revenues to consumers. Revenues from auctioned allowances should be returned to low- and moderate-income households at a level sufficient to offset higher energy costs.

Return revenues to workers and communities. Workers and communities most affected by the transition to a clean energy economy should receive a portion of the revenues to ease the transition and build a trained workforce so that all can participate in the new energy economy.

Protect against global trade disadvantages to U.S. industry. In addition to providing incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions, the legislation should provide for an effective response to any countries that refuse to contribute their fair share to the international effort. These elements will protect energy-intensive U.S. enterprises against competitive disadvantage.

Aid Communities and Ecosystems Vulnerable to Harm from Global Warming

Global warming is already harming communities and ecosystems throughout the world, and even with immediate action to reduce emissions and avoid dangerous effects, these impacts will worsen over the coming decades. To ameliorate these harms, the legislation must:

Assist states, localities and tribes to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to states, localities, and tribes to respond to harm from global warming and adapt their infrastructure to its effects, such as more severe wildfires, intensified droughts, increased water scarcity, sea level rise, floods, hurricanes, melting permafrost, and agricultural and public health impacts.

Assist developing countries to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to help the developing countries most vulnerable to harm from global warming and defuse the threats to national security and global stability posed by conflicts over water and other natural resources, famines, and mass migrations that could be triggered by global warming. Vulnerable countries include least developed countries, where millions of people are already living on the brink, and small island states, which face massive loss of land.

Assist wildlife and ecosystems threatened by global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to federal, state, and tribal natural resource protection agencies to manage wildlife and ecosystems to maximize the survival of wildlife populations, imperiled species, and ecosystems, using science-based adaptation strategies.

These principles, if adopted as part of comprehensive climate change legislation, will meet the United States’ obligations to curb greenhouse gas emissions and also will provide a pathway to the international cooperation that is necessary to solve the global warming problem.

We commend these principles to you and hope that you find them helpful as we move forward together to develop and adopt global warming legislation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Burlington's Climate Action Plan

The City of Burlington is engaging in thoughtful conversation regarding our city's carbon footprint and how to walk more lightly on the earth.

THIS Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm at Contois Auditorium is the first meeting of a series for anyone wanting to get involved in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) re-write process. Mark your calendar!

During this event, you will hear from Jenn Jenkins of UVM (also a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the international level) on the impacts of climate change and then city staff will present the results of the greenhouse gas emissions inventory conducted during the last few months. Before the meeting ends, you will also get a chance to meet with teams contributing to the CAP through the following working groups:
Team leaders will be in touch with their group members for subsequent meetings. If you have any questions, contact folks at Burlington's Legacy Project.

I would like to encourage everyone to participate in their process whether it be through the Working Groups or at the Legacy Town Meeting on December 9th, 2008. Every action we take as individuals to improve our impact and consumption is a part of a greater whole. Thanks so much for all you do already!

Meeting Overview (9/15/08)

Last night's meeting was a blast! Thanks so much to all of you who participated and have committed to putting together a fantastic Hunger Banquet to raise awareness and solidarity for hunger, poverty, and injustice right here in Burlington.
A special thank you goes out to the folks at Burlington Bay Market and Café for hosting us.

We had several new faces join us last night and after brief introductions, Nathaly shared a bit about Oxfam's work on the international scale and the work of the Vermont Oxfam Action Corps at the local level.

During August's meeting, participants decided on hosting a Hunger Banquet in Burlington to engage the community regarding hunger and poverty. However, due to the number of new folks in the group, it was important to discuss this again to confirm it was something people thought was worth the time and energy to put together. Kathy, Lee, Natalia, and Colin had all attended Hunger Banquets hosted in the past and could share a bit regarding their experiences. Each person could attest to how powerful the experience had been for them, but we still wanted to ask ourselves what the purpose of the event would be.

Were we seeking simply to build awareness about hunger?
Were we looking to draw more folks into the Action Corps?
How valuable would this sort of one-time event be in the bigger scope of things?

We had to stop to compare the benefit of preparing a Hunger Banquet as opposed to engaging in other types of local action. In the end, we decided to move forward with the event planning, as long as we remained mindful about making the experience be more than just another thought-provoking event and to connect it with real action.

We selected the first weekend in December (one night from the 4th - 7th) in order to keep it within the holiday season when folks are more likely to reflect on these issues and agreed to reconvene to work out logistics and make some major thematic decisions regarding guest speakers or panelists, general order of the program, and take-home message in two weeks time.

  • Participants will be compiling ideas over the next few weeks via email. To weigh in on the conversation, contact
  • Kevin will be looking into using the the St. Andrew's Church meeting space as the event venue.
  • Colin & Nathaly will be working out a budget for the event from what is available to the Oxfam Action Corps.

Monday, September 29th @ 6PM
UVM's Davis Center (location tbd)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hi folks -

I'm sorry to say we won't be able to meet at the Skinny Pancake. They're having a staff end-of-summer party on Monday evening so we will be re-locating to:

The Burlington Bay Market & Café
125 Battery Street (corner of Battery & College Sts)
Monday, Sept 15th, 6-7:30pm

Light snacks/appetizers will be purchased for the group. If you are able, bring a couple dollars to chip in.

I will do my best to call each of you who said they would be attending directly to alert you of the location change. Thanks for understanding. Please give me a call at 802-578-6277 if you have any questions.

Peace and Love,


Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Monthly Meeting

Hello fellow activists:

Please join us for the next monthly meeting to plan November's Hunger Banquet.

WHAT: VT Oxfam Action Corps Monthly Meeting
WHERE: the Skinny Pancake Creperie (corner of Lake & College Streets)
WHO: anyone interested in helping fight hunger, poverty, and injustice--YOU!

This next meeting will focus on setting some of the details for the Hunger
Banquet that was decided upon during August's meeting. Please come with ideas
for speakers, venue, music and local partners who we could work with. As
always, we welcome and encourage you to bring a friend!

Weather permitting, we will sit at on the round outdoor tables, otherwise, find
us inside! Bring a couple bucks if you're interested in sharing some
appetizers (our group gets a discount).

If you are unable to attend the meeting, but have some ideas or would like to
weigh-in on the date for the event, please share! (Email or call 802-578-6277). We will share meeting
notes through the blog.



Sen. Leahy values international adaptation programs

ADAPTATION: State Department outlines climate needs for poor countries (09/05/2008)
Lisa Friedman, ClimateWire reporter
A new Bush administration report acknowledges that poor countries will need billions of dollars in assistance to help cope with the impacts of climate change.

In a report to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), officials at the State Department and other agencies said international adaptation is "emerging as a more prominent issue." Industrialized countries, including the United States, they said, are helping to ensure that developing nations have the tools they need to deal with problems like food scarcity and a rise in coastal flooding.

"The ultimate goal of adaptation is to develop resilient societies and economies that have the knowledge and capacity to address both the challenges and the opportunities presented by changing climatic conditions," federal officials wrote. "In this sense, adaptation is of a piece with broader development efforts."

Congressional aides and international development leaders praised the State Department for recognizing a serious global threat. But many also slammed the report, calling it a hasty piece of work that underestimates the enormous job of preparing poor countries to face the consequences of a climate crisis they had little hand in creating.

"To the extent they've begun to engage, I think that's a good thing," David Waskow, climate change program director for Oxfam America, said of the State Department. But, he said, "They underplayed the scale of the need."

Even if countries drastically reduce emissions immediately, scientists say changes already locked into the system mean most nations will be affected by climate change. Developing countries -- many already suffering from extreme poverty and heavily dependent on agriculture -- will bear the brunt of sea level rises and changing weather patterns.

International agencies, led by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, have widely recognized that wealthy nations with long histories of heavy industrial emissions are responsible for the climatic damages poor countries now face, and should take the lead in addressing the problems. Adaptation, or helping countries cope, is central to international climate negotiations.

Still not a priority, Democrats and climate activists charge
Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees State Department funding, last year called on the agency to join with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the adaptation needs of developing countries and lay out the measures America is taking to help them.

"Senator Leahy believes climate change is one of the most challenging and potentially serious problems facing the world," said Tim Rieser, Democratic clerk to the subcommittee. The senator called for the study, Rieser said, "to determine what the administration is doing about it."

He described the 40-page report as a broad-brush overview that doesn't go far enough. The good news, he said: "They're no longer talking about how [climate change] is a hoax."

"At least they're acknowledging that it is a serious problem that requires global cooperation," Rieser said. But, he added, "It doesn't really tell us much that we didn't already know. If anything, it reaffirmed what we suspected -- it's not a priority. There's no strategy in place, and there's minimal funding. The report indicates this is barely on their radar screen."

Melanie Nakagawa, international program attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, also called the report "not very thorough" and was one of several who noted that the report includes large parts of a USAID study published last year.

"They do a scant review of existing literature," she said. "Sadly, it looks like they gave this important issue not the due time it deserves."

Legislation requiring the study was signed into law in December, but according to a Federal Register notice, the State Department convened the interagency delegation to create the report on Aug. 21.

A yearlong State Department focus
But a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday that the agency has been focused on international adaptation for more than a year. The report, she said, built directly on work the agency has been doing to lead an interagency effort for the National Security Council principals committee. Representatives from 16 agencies and White House offices helped prepare the report, she said.

"The issue of adaptation is one of the core issues being addressed through the UNFCCC," the spokeswoman said. "Clearly, the State Department is engaged fully on that."

The agency noted that helping developing countries adapt to climate change could cost from $10 billion to $50 billion, citing Oxfam numbers. It also stressed that industrialized countries should not shoulder the financial burden.

"The scale of the potential cost suggests that adaptation efforts should leverage funds dedicated to development assistance, and that the donor community alone cannot take responsibility for adaptation in the developing world," the authors wrote.

"The role of the donors should be to provide tools, information and assistance to developing countries so they can entrain the resources -- human and financial -- of the private sector as well as donors to build resilient futures."

Nakagawa said that as negotiators work toward a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement, international adaptation needs to see more attention.

"This report merely scratches the surface to outline what is currently needed and will be needed to address the adaptation needs of developing countries," she said.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Notes from our last Meeting

Hi all -

In our last meeting, the VT Oxfam Action Corps was visited by full-time staff from Oxfam America, New England Field Organizer, Stephanie Demmons, as well as Senior Organizer, Brian Rawson and an intern with the Outreach and Organizing department, Jennifer Fraser.

Over a fabulous dinner of crepes from the Skinny Pancake (which uses almost all local products!), we discussed what draws each of us into climate justice activism as well as generated some ideas for ways to spread the work in the coming months.

One solid outcome of the meeting is the idea to put together a Hunger Banquet just before the Thanksgiving holiday to raise awareness of issues facing those whom we fight for, the world's poor. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Nathaly:

SAVE THE DATE: Our next meeting is tentatively set to take place on Thursday, September 11th. Meeting location TBA.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dinner Meeting @ Skinny Pancake

Hello friends!

Please join us on Tuesday, August 5th for our monthly meeting. We will be meeting & eating at the Skinny Pancake Creperie (by the Burlington Waterfront) to plan actions for the coming months.

Come meet & dine with

local CLIMATE JUSTICE activists

to discuss climate change and its effects

on poor and vulnerable communities.

Learn how YOU can take action!

Date: Tuesday, August 5th

Time: 6:00 – 7:30 pm

Location: Skinny Pancake, At the corner of Lake & College


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

VT Oxfam Action Corps in the Bronx!

This weekend, Vermont Oxfam Action Corps co-leader, Nathaly Agosto Filión, traveled down to visit family in New York City and participated in the Bronx's very own annual Dominican Parade, la Gran Parada Dominicana, alongside the NYC Oxfam Action Corps co-leaders, Terry Lawson and Isaac Evans-Franz!

One highlight of participating in this event, was having the opportunity to greet and thank Congressman Charles Rangel, for being open and receptive to the Climate Equity Campaign through meetings with both his DC and NYC staff people.

Nathaly is from the Dominican Republic and was very proud to be able to stand up for Climate Justice in her hometown alongside the great organizers from New York City. She was also joined by her sister, Luz Maria Filión and nephew, Marcos Garcia.

The Dominican Republic, an island nation in the Caribbean, is especially at risk of being affected by the increased severe weather events such as the hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane season starts right about now so this event came right in time to help create a greater public awareness of the effects of climate change among Dominicans living in New York City.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Science & Development Network

I just signed up to receive weekly emails from SciDev.Net, the Science and Development Network. I've seen some of their published articles through UNEP's ClimateWire email blast and read another one I appreciated this:

Human rights a 'compass' for climate change policies

Katherine Nightingale

17 July 2008 | EN

Human rights can be a "compass" to guide research and policy development for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, according to a report.

The International Council on Human Rights Policy (ICHRP) says climate change will threaten — directly or indirectly — almost all human rights, including the right to food, health and a livelihood. But they have received little attention on the policy stage so far. More>>

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Meeting: 7/9/08, 7PM, City Market

The next Vermont Oxfam Action Corps meeting will be held on:

@ 7pm
City Market Conference Room
check in at Front Desk for directions.

I loo
k forward to seeing some new faces! We will be discussing the G8 Summit and our new strategical positioning now that the senate is gearing up for the presidential elections!



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How McCain & Obama differ regarding Climate policies

Hi all,

We all recognize the huge impact that comes into effect once the US adopts a strong (or weak) environmental policy. This article highlights a couple of the differences between Obama's climate change stance, which vows to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 (remember Step It Up? led by a group of student activists from VT's own Middlebury College) versus the 60% mark McCain hopes for.

Read more.

If we stop for a minute to consider how all-encompassing this sort of legislation will be, we will note that every small bit of work we do from little ol' Vermont to help advocate for the needs of the poorest communities all over the world has a profound impact. That certainly keeps me going! Let's continue to make sure that Bernie, Leahy, and Welch know we care!

Have a great Independence Day.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Climate Investment Funds created by World Bank

This message came up today through ClimateWire by way of

The increasing frequency of droughts, floods, and catastrophic climatic events are already hitting the poorest communities the hardest.

And at a time of rising food prices, climate change creates more risks for the developing world's agriculture.

If we are to confront climate change we need to learn more about this as a development challenge. We need to find new approaches in several sectors ranging from agriculture, water management, transport , urban development, biodiversity to energy access. Read more.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Women Affected Dispropotionately by Climate Change

Ever considered how climate change affects women versus men?

Check out: to view four short films showcasing 4 women and their individual struggles with climate change.

Interesting review of it on the Grist here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Check Out Media Coverage on Climate Bill

Senate Democrats May Pull Climate Bill

Week's Debate Has Been Contentious

By Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 6, 2008; Page A02

If this week's Senate debate on a proposed cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for climate legislation, things are not looking too good for opening night.

The week has been marked by parliamentary maneuvers and bitter accusations over divergent estimates of the bill's future costs. On Wednesday, a group of GOP senators asked that...

To read the rest of the article, go to:

Thursday, June 5, 2008


We've learned that an amendment has been offered by Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Senator Snowe (R-ME) to shift revenue generated by the bill to help the world's most impoverished communities deal with the devastating consequences of climate change. Those resources would come from auctioning greenhouse gas permits that would otherwise be given away free to major oil companies.

We need your help to make sure the amendment becomes part of the final bill. Please call your Senators Leahy & Sanders today and ask them to support the Menendez-Snowe Amendment to increase funding for the International Climate Change Adaptation and National Security Program.

To make it easier, we've written out four simple steps to make your call as effective as possible.

1. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
2. Ask for one of your senator's offices.
3. Once connected, tell the person who answers that you are a constituent. Give him or her your name and address. Ask them to tell the senator the following: Please support the Menendez-Snowe amendment on "International Adaptation" to the Climate Security Act. Instead of giving away greenhouse gas permits for free to major oil companies, we should shift those permits to increase funding to help poor countries around the world adapt to climate change.
4. Once you are finished, hang up and repeat the instructions for your other senator.

Lastly, please let us know how it went!
Visit and share what the senator's message is with Oxfam America so that our lobbyists can be in the loop!

Understanding the Boxer Amendment to the Climate Security Act (L-W)

Hi folks - here's the latest:

The Lieberman-Warner bill has been modified to include an Amendment drafted in conjunction by Senator Barbara Boxer. The amendments offers some advantages and some disadvantages to our goal of increasing funding for international adaptation.

Notes on Boxer Substitute Amendment

to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036)

Allocation of Allowances

  • Approximately 68% of the allowances (1 allowance equals 1 ton of CO2 equivalent) are auctioned or distributed in 2012 to support a variety of programs (including low-income communities, states, localities and Indian tribes, recognition of early actors, efficiency programs and technologies and renewable energy technology and deployment, low-carbon electricity generation and advanced research, low-carbon coal technologies, low- to zero- emissions transportation technologies, programs that protect wildlife and natural resources in the US from climate impacts, international adaptation funding and international clean energy technology transfer).
  • Approximately 32% of the allowances in 2012 are given away for free to fossil-fuel producers and emitters.
100% of the allowances under a cap-and-trade program should be allocated for public benefit. In accordance with the “polluter pays principle,” no allowances should be given away for free to polluters.

International Adaptation

· The international adaptation provisions were revised from the committee mark of the bill to highlight community engagement and national level consultation; to clarify most vulnerable developing country eligibility; to identify broader national security concerns; and to make it possible for some funding to be channeled through a multilateral fund.

· The funding level is increased substantially over the lifetime of the bill, but cut somewhat below the level in the committee mark for the years 2012-2017.

· The estimated dollar amount generated by the auction of allowances for this purpose falls within a range depending on the average price of greenhouse gas allowances (emission permits): $580 million-$1.1 billion in 2012; $1.4-$2.9 billion in 2020; and $3.7-$7.5 billion in 2030.


We are pleased with the substantive changes made to the international adaptation program language from the committee mark of the bill. The percentage of adaptation funding should be increased in the early years of the program, 2012-2017, since poor communities are already being impacted by climate-related events. It’s also important to keep in mind the context of an estimated need of more than $80 billion in developing countries to adapt to climate impacts.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

MEETING: 5/29, 6PM

For our next monthly meeting on:

Thursday, May 29th at 6pm
@ the City Market!
Please check in at member services for instructions;
we'll be meeting at one of the conference rooms upstairs.

During the meeting we will be reviewing the overall goals of the Climate Equity
Campaign and strategizing actions for the coming months and ensuing legislative
and political events, as well as getting to know each other a bit more and
hearing each others' ideas, stories, and thoughts about Climate Equity. We
will focus part of the meeting on breaking down the Lieberman-Warner bill that
will be voted on in the Senate early next week and deciding on ways to share
our input with our representatives.

See you there!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Highlight on our Washington, D.C. Lobby Visit

Recently, the Oxfam Action Corps, has begun to share the message of Climate Equity with Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders in their Washington, D.C. offices.

During this visit, we met with congressional staffers specializing in issues of environment and global warming to discuss our two main asks for this visit. Please read our leave-behind message, below, for highlights of our meeting.


While least responsible for causing climate change, poor people bear the brunt of its impacts. Oxfam America is launching a campaign to respond to the crisis. We believe that the U.S. should dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also increasing funding so that poor people, both domestically and around the world, can survive the effects of global warming.

At the same time, we have to ensure that climate policies are enacted in an equitable way. In the U.S., that means neutralizing the impacts of any increased costs for low-income energy consumers due to climate legislation. And we should increase investments in green energy technologies for developing countries in order to cut harmful emissions, while producing new jobs in the U.S. and promote development internationally.

  • Climate Legislation Should Ensure Adequate Resources for Public Purposes
    A cap-and-trade system should ensure that a high percentage of the emissions permits are auctioned and that the revenue is used for public benefits, including adaptation for vulnerable communities, neutralizing impacts on low-income energy consumers, and promoting green energy technology internationally.

  • International Adaptation Funding
    Climate change is forcing vulnerable communities in poor countries to face unprecedented climate stress, including water scarcity and drought, severe weather events and floods, reduced agricultural productivity, and increased disease. A comprehensive climate policy should include significant funding for hard-hit areas around the world to adapt to severe climate change impacts. At least 10% of the revenue from the auction of emission permits should be used to help vulnerable communities in developing countries.

  • Domestic Low-Income Energy Consumers
    Climate change legislation could affect low-income energy consumers, but can also be an opportunity to benefit those same people. Climate change legislation should provide funding to neutralize the cost of higher energy prices to low-income consumers, while also providing new “green job” opportunities.

  • Developing Countries and Clean Energy Technology
    As part of a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential to address the significant need for clean energy technology in major developing countries. The U.S. should help those countries, while also stimulating our own economy, by providing clean energy technology internationally.

For more information, go to

Monday, May 19, 2008


Our 2nd Monthly Action Team Meeting will take place on:

THURSDAY, MAY 29th, 2008
from 6 - 7 p.m.
@ the Conference Room in City Market
**tentative location**
We will be reviewing the overall goals of the Climate Equity Campaign and strategizing actions for the coming months and ensuing legislative and political events, as well as getting to know each other a bit and hearing each others ideas/stories/thoughts about Climate Equity. Colin and I have met many of you in person, over the phone, or via email, but look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it for the evening!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Hello and welcome to the Vermont Oxfam Action Corps blog!

The co-leaders for the group are Colin Henkel and Nathaly Agosto Filion and we are very excited to work with people throughout Vermont to share this very important message.

If you would like to learn more about the greater scope of our work or have specific questions, please email us at We are just getting started with this multi-year campaign and, although we have participated in several events around Burlington this spring, we are still just getting started!

We hope this site will serve as both a resource to Vermonters as well as a call to action for folks seeking to help find equitable solutions to the climate crisis. Please continue to visit the site as we will post new information, photos, links, videos, and more in the coming weeks and join us in our next Action Team meeting on Tuesday, May 27th.