Founded in 2002, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network is based in Takoma Park, Maryland, with offices in Richmond, Norfolk, and Baltimore. Their mission and vision are to combat global warming and the effects of climate change in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. This grassroots, nonprofit organization uses its locale (nearby the nation’s capital) to inspire the entire country and nations around the world to act toward this cause.

Founded by journalist Mike Tidwell, CCAN got its start with seed money from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and has been at the forefront of landmark climate and clean energy initiatives through Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. Some of their victories include Clean Cars bills in Maryland and D.C., a bill that promotes rooftop solar power in Virginia, and groundbreaking legislation for offshore wind power in Maryland.

Working through the courts, CCAN helped cut mercury contamination from a Wise County, VA coal plant by 94 percent, and forced mitigation of three toxic coal ash dumps in Maryland. In addition, it helped with the passage of a bill prohibiting fracking, along with restrictive statewide carbon cap legislation in Maryland.

How This Climate Action Network Works 

The people at CCAN are dedicated to fighting the big fights. That means taking on issues that will have the biggest effect in cutting the greenhouse pollution that is affecting our climate. Climate Change Action Network seeks to expand the idea of what’s “politically possible,” through a grassroots network that is committed to holding politicians accountable and overcoming the grip of polluting industries. Through organization, education, and mobilization, they are growing and striving toward a bigger, more powerful movement for change.

Throughout the country, poorer people and people of color are the ones who are the first to feel the effects of climate change and the industries that contribute to it. It’s CCAN’s belief that a switch to clean energy will benefit everyone, and they support the struggle in communities that are hardest hit in this fight. That means promoting policies that are tapped into both justice and science, as well as working toward racial, environmental and social justice throughout the region.

The people at Climate Change Action Network believe that a diverse movement is a strong movement, and they reach out to build relationships with military leaders, business owners, faith groups, students, and others to forge an effective front. That means finding common ground and common cause and figuring out the best ways to advance shared goals and values. Lobbying, policy work, media outreach, and even civil disobedience and climate change protest are all part of their strategies for action on these pressing issues.

Solutions for a Climate Action Network 

It takes creativity and determination to devise sound environmental policy. These are some of the measures that Chesapeake Climate Action Network is working toward:

  • Cap and Dividend: When a company imports fossil fuels to the U.S. or extracts them from the ground, they will need to buy a permit at auction for every ton of carbon dioxide that those fossil fuels will produce in the atmosphere. This helps provide hard accountability for pollution – for instance, a coal company that’s selling fuel to utilities would purchase this permit annually, and that amount would drop over time as emissions in the atmosphere approach target levels. The money generated at these auctions is then returned to taxpayers, with each citizen receiving a “dividend” quarterly that would cover any price increases in utility or gas expenses. In the end, utility companies have an incentive to cut their reliance on dirty energy and lower and middle-income Americans will see their net incomes rise.
  • Divestment from fossil fuels: More than 300 campuses across the country are pressing their college endowment funds to cut their engagement with fossil fuel companies. This campaign is modeled on the 1980s movement to break away from investments in South Africa, and that eventually led to the fall of the Apartheid government there. This is more than a moral statement – it’s strong economic pressure that can change an entire business model. Johns Hopkins University, James Madison University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are among 300 schools across the country that are moving in this direction.

How You Can Help This Climate Action Network 

Remember that CCAN’s mission isn’t just directed toward Chesapeake environmental issues – you can help, regardless of what part of the country you’re in. Public pressure and votes still count for a lot, and you’re encouraged to join Chesapeake Climate Actin Network’s email list to find out the latest issues. Call or email your congressman, donate to CCAN, and even take part in nonviolent civil disobedience to make a difference and turn things around.