December 2020 Newsletter
Elders Take the Lead on Climate Action:
Our Generational Responsibility
By Diane Rapaport, Newsletter Editor
President-elect Joe Biden, who at age 78 will become the oldest president in U.S. history, has named 76-year-old John Kerry, the former Secretary of State who negotiated the Paris Climate Accord, to be the first Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. This news is encouraging for us at ECA Massachusetts as we gear up to continue our climate work in 2021. Not only does Kerry’s appointment signal the incoming administration's serious commitment to climate action, but it also highlights the key leadership role – and responsibility – for elders in addressing the climate crisis.

I read a recent piece about Kerry in the Boston Globe that quoted Glen Johnson, a former Globe reporter who worked for Kerry in the State Department. Johnson said about Kerry: “He has often talked about climate change from the perspective of generational responsibility.” That line jumped out at me, because of course, this is central to ECA’s mission, taking on responsibility as elders to protect the well-being of our grandchildren and future generations. The quote about Kerry went on to say, “I think there are very few things that would draw him [Kerry] back into public service than something that he feels is transcendent, is beyond more than just this moment.”

I’m sure most ECA members would agree that the transcendent, existential nature of this crisis is the major reason we elders have become climate activists, and that the skills and experience we bring as elders are particularly important at this pivotal time for climate action. 

There's a role for you in this climate fight, whether you're a long-time activist or new to the climate movement. Come to our next monthly meeting, on Tuesday, December 8, and other events - see details below - to learn more about what we're doing and how you can contribute your voice and talents. We elders have urgent work to do in the months and years ahead, and we need you!
Be sure to check out a new profile of John Kerry written by ECA Massachusetts member Michael Sales, which we are featuring on the home page of our website, Michael plans to analyze President-elect Biden's climate plan, so watch for that featured post at our website soon too.

In this Issue
  • Save the Date
  • Highlighting Our Achievements in 2020
  • Getting to Net Negative - A Massachusetts Approach
  • Massachusetts Legislative Update
  • Elders Stand for Fair Elections: Expanding Activism for Sound Democracy
  • What We're Reading

ECA Massachusetts Monthly Chapter Meeting. This month features a presentation by Regina LaRocque, MD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School who is concerned about the impact of climate change on human health and the spread of infectious diseases.
She is one of the founders and leaders of Climate Code Blue, a team of physicians committed to amplify the voices of children, poor communities and communities of color who are being harmed disproportionately by the pollution from fossil fuels and the climate crisis. The electrification of buildings is one of Climate Code Blue's priorities. Dr. LaRocque will tell us more about Climate Code Blue's work and discuss the role that organizations like ECA Massachusetts might play in supporting and allying with the activities of these committed health professionals.

We'll also hear from our Legislative/Policy Team with the latest about the status of priority climate legislation pending in Conference Committee at the State House, and other news you won't want to miss! We look forward to seeing you!
Highlighting Our Achievements in 2020
Despite the many unprecedented challenges of this most unusual year, ECA Massachusetts continued - and expanded - our climate efforts in 2020. We're proud of our accomplishments in the past year, including:
  • More than doubled our "Activist" members, to over 330.
  • Increased monthly newsletter "Supporter" subscribers to just under 1000.
  • Increased people who "LIKE " our Facebook page to over 1000, and updated our page almost daily with new articles and events.
  • Consistent attendance at monthly chapter meetings, even via Zoom, averaging 30 people per month and attracting new participants from all over the state. Timely topics, interesting speakers, and opportunities to meet other elders who want to learn about climate change and take action!
  • Monthly Deep Dialogue conversation series, averaging more than 30 people participating.
  • Members created three-part interactive Zoom seminar, Can We Stop Climate Change?, making presentations to small groups nationally.
  • Research Team developed a four-part educational series for Massachusetts climate activists: Getting to Net Negative - A Massachusetts Approach (read more in the article below).
  • Two in-person "forest field trips" explored logging and conservation issues re: carbon sequestration and biomass burning.
  • ECA's Chelmsford branch formed the Chelmsford Climate Action Team, which has been running a monthly series of conversations on Zoom with various experts.  
  • Worked closely with our legislators in the Massachusetts State House to advocate for our priority legislation, the 2050 Roadmap bill - the only House climate bill still standing in the legislature (now in conference committee to be reconciled with the Senate's climate bill - read more about legislative status in the article below) .
  • Led two lobby days in person at the State House and a statewide virtual rally with close to 300 people for successful state climate legislation.  
  • Built stronger alliances with local (and national) organizations, increasing our reputation and power. Signed ECA Massachusetts on to many organizations' petitions and letters about climate issues. 
  • Learned more about being an ally to frontline communities for Environmental Justice (EJ).
  • Contributed strong leadership and many volunteer hours to the Elders Stand for Fair Elections campaign - to get out the vote, to protect the results, and to defend our democracy.
  • Members wrote articles, gave interviews, and had editorials and letters to the editor published in various media. Example: Rick Lent was interviewed for a September 21 article in Yes! magazine, "The Power of Inclusive, Intergenerational Climate Activism."
Getting to Net Negative -
A Massachusetts Approach
In November ECA Massachusetts introduced a unique four-part educational series - Getting to Net Negative - A Massachusetts Approach. Developed and presented by our Research Team, this new video series is aimed at Massachusetts climate activists who want to understand and participate in the state's planning to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Key decisions will soon be made that determine the course Massachusetts takes in tackling the climate emergency. This series will help you participate and shape how we respond to the crisis.
Part 1 - Getting to and beyond Net Zero - A Massachusetts Approach was launched via Zoom at our November 10 chapter meeting for more than 30 attendees. Presenters Arnie Epstein, Paul Reisberg and Roger Luckmann explained, with many charts and illustrations:
  • Why we must go beyond net zero to "net negative" emissions.
  • Progress the state has made to date in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Core principles and values moving forward.
The presentation was followed by a lively and informative Q&A. The audience response was enthusiastic!
The series continued with Part 2 - Getting Rid of Fossil Fuels in Transportation and Building at a special Zoom session on November 30, again to more than 30 ECA Massachusetts members and friends.

This time, the presenters from our Research Team were Jim Campen, Paul Reisberg, and Arnie Epstein, who covered fascinating details and answered our questions about:
  • The primary strategy - electrification with clean electricity.
  • Transportation electrification - approaches, challenges, alternatives.
  • Building electrification - approaches, challenges, alternatives.
  • Impact on demand for electricity.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, or want to view them again, you can find the videos and slides here, or at the featured post, "Getting to Net Negative - A Massachusetts Approach," on the home page of the ECA Massachusetts website,

We're looking forward to the next two installments of the series:

Part 3 - Achieving 100% Clean Electricity will be on Monday, December 14, 4-5:30 pm EST via Zoom (see Save the Date, above). We will discuss the opportunities and challenges in reaching this vital target.

Part 4 - Getting to Net Negative - Choices Along the Way is scheduled for Monday, January 25, 4-5:30 pm EST via Zoom, and will focus on how we get beyond net zero to net negative. We also will explore some potential pathways and the choices we will face along the way. 
Massachusetts Legislative Update
The ECA Massachusetts Legislative Team met with Representative Joan Meschino and the other members of the Roadmap Coalition in November to discuss the status of the climate bills still being worked on in the Conference Committee. Rep. Meschino continues to feel optimistic that a climate bill will emerge from the committee and that language from the original Roadmap legislation will be included, but she could not say when we should expect a bill to appear.

She proposed inviting David Ismay to the next Roadmap Coalition meeting in December, to engage in a discussion of the Baker administration's Climate Roadmap model report, which is due out on December 7. David Ismay is the Undersecretary for Climate Change in the Baker administration and the Chair of the Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Council (GWSAIAC). This group has prepared a set of recommendations for equitably reducing carbon emissions in Massachusetts that will be included in the soon-to-be released Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP). 

The Roadmap Coalition is still formulating what its future role may be in advocating for climate legislation in the 2021 legislative session. The ECA Massachusetts Legislative Team has suggested that the Roadmap Coalition consider meeting to review the Baker administration's CECP and to coordinate input on the plan during the public comment period.
Elders Stand for Fair Elections:
Expanding Activism for Sound Democracy
ECA Massachusetts members contributed strong leadership and volunteer hours for the 2020 Elders Stand for Fair Elections (ESFE) campaign to get out the vote in key states all over the country, to protect the results, and to defend our democracy.

Now planning is underway to expand the activism begun with ESFE, to create new "Elders for Sound Democracy" initiatives in 2021. Members of ECA and our "parent" organization, the Elders Action Network (EAN), met on December 2 to begin discussing issues of interest (voter suppression, gerrymandering, election security, media distortion, the Electoral College, among other concerns). Organizers plan to meet again on Wednesday, January 6, to begin forming committees, and expect to invite the broader ECA/EAN community to a Town Hall on Wednesday, January 13 to get more specific about committing to activism for our democracy.

Stay tuned! We'll keep you posted on these important and urgent opportunities for elders to make a difference.
What We're Reading
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson &
Katharine K. Wilkinson (One World, 2020)

I love this book! The concept is unusual for a book about climate change: 42 essays, interspersed with poetry and art, all by women. You may recognize some of their names; a few are well known in climate circles, and you may be familiar with one of the editors, Katharine K. Wilkinson, who cohosts the excellent new podcast, "A Matter of Degrees." But most of these women probably will be new to you. They are scientists, journalists, farmers, teachers, activists, innovators – leaders from diverse backgrounds, generations, regions – illuminating the many ways we can (and must) work together if we are to save and transform our world. Every essay and poem in this collection is a gem, worth taking your time to ponder before moving on to the next. This is one book you won’t want to speed-read!

All We Can Save offers inspiration and solace, in these troubling times when grief is never far from the surface. The authors don’t turn away from what we’ve lost or the losses yet to come. But this book, more than any other I've read, and its unique chorus of voices, give me hope. As the editors say in their introduction: “While it is too late to save everything – some ecological damage is irreparable, some species are already gone, ice has already melted, lives have already been lost – it is far too soon to give up on the rest. So let these women, these visionaries, lead you on a path toward all we can save.”

 --Diane Rapaport
This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of the
Elders Climate Action - Massachusetts Chapter
ECA Massachusetts is a chapter of the national Elders Climate Action. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. JOIN ECA MASSACHUSETTS AND STAY CONNECTED! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements. Fill out our subscription form.