ClimateDemocracyNews & Opinion
by Mia DiFelice
As we head into another election year, it’s no secret we face massive challenges. Our warming climate is plunging us into dangerous, unknown territory. More climate- and election-denying extremists are grasping for even more power.
But at the same time, we’re gaining incredible ground. The past few years have seen exciting progress and amazing victories. Our movement is growing, and so is our power.
In 2024, Food & Water Action has a strategy for building on those victories and securing new ones. With your help, we can fight to defend a livable future and elect the leaders we need to support us.
Here, we’re breaking down the good we’re building on, the bad we’re fighting, and how exactly we’ll do both.
The Good: A Growing Movement for Climate Action and Progressive Champions
When Food & Water Action began this work, climate was on the margins of politics. Over the past few years, that has changed dramatically.
This progress was on full display in the 2020 presidential elections. All the major Democratic candidates tried to outdo each other on who had the boldest climate plan. Then, climate — especially fracking — played a central role during Trump and Biden’s general election contest.
The ground swelling of grassroots organizing and growing popular support for bold climate action made this possible. In the streets and at the polls, people are enthusiastically supporting climate action and climate champions.
We saw this last summer when Biden approved Willow, a carbon bomb drilling project in Alaska. Online and in-person organizing, especially from young people, condemned the administration. And though Willow went through, we’re seeing the administration re-evaluate its drilling policy and slow down approvals.
Fights like Willow have shown the power of people showing up and making noise. We’re confident we can build on that momentum in the 2024 elections. Already, we are proud to endorse Laura Friedman in California and Jamal Bowman in New York in this year’s Congressional races. And our work on this front is only beginning.
Climate isn’t just big on the national level—the number of climate champions winning at all levels of government is growing. Last year, we were proud to support Sara Innamorato for Allegheny County Executive, one of the most powerful positions in Pennsylvania.
With her win, we built on the ground we laid in 2022, as we helped Western PA Representatives Summer Lee and Chris Deluzio get to Congress. And we proved again that we could get a climate champion elected in the heart of fracking country.
The Bad: Rising Stakes for Our Planet and Democracy
We face so many intertwining crises that threaten our health, our livelihoods, and the planet we share. Global average temperatures are reaching new heights, and new fossil fuel projects continue to gain steam. Private companies are poaching our water, and corporations are polluting and draining it. Meanwhile, Big Ag and Big Oil continue raking in profits, while families struggle to make ends meet.
Right now, Congress has way too many lawmakers poised to worsen these problems. In fact, they’ve made their plans clear. If they had their way, they’d cut funding to renewable energy and grid expansions, gut environmental protections, and drill even more.
That’s in great part because of the millions they’re pocketing from polluting corporations. And that same cash is already flooding this election cycle.
The oil and gas industry alone has so far sent $11.4 million to Congressional candidates, and it spent $30.9 million during the last election cycle. As a result, many lawmakers are more concerned with preserving profits than serving the people.
What’s more, the Republican Party — which currently controls the House — has proven itself incapable of productive policymaking. Last year, it pushed the House to the teetering edge of a government shutdown. Then, it ground lawmaking to a halt by booting Speaker Kevin McCarthy and bickering for weeks over his replacement.
And as Congress approaches its new deadlines for must-pass spending bills, we’re bracing ourselves for more chaos.
To defend our food, water, and climate, we need to boot right-wing extremists from office and elect leaders that have our interests — not corporations’ — in mind.
What Comes Next: Building Power in the 2024 Elections
Since it’s an election year, we can expect most lawmaking to stall. However, Congress must negotiate several of last year’s must-pass spending bills in 2024. We can make a difference by advocating to embed our priorities in these bills.
For example, Congress extended the 2023 Farm Bill deadline to September of this year. With the extra time, we’ll continue working with our Fair Farm Bill Action Team, pushing for a Farm Bill that puts families and farmers before Big Ag.
Additionally, we’re helping to pave the way for victories up and down the ballot in November. We’re going all-in on Get-Out-the-Vote. Door-knocking, phone calls, and even everyday conversations with family and friends are crucial to this work.
With your help, we can take back power from right-wing extremists, end the chaos in the House, elect more progressives and climate champions, and defend our democracy.
We also need to keep the focus on state and local races as well as the national ones. Many of these races, like Sara Innamorato’s, can have immediate impacts in people’s backyards. They can shut down factory farms, defend water systems, and ban fracking and other polluting industries at the local level. And they build the necessary foundations for sweeping, national change.
This year, we’re fighting to keep climate deniers, fossil-fuel puppets, and corporate authoritarians from taking power nationwide. But we’re not just playing defense.
We know that to truly change our climate trajectory and protect our food and water, we need folks in the halls of power who will stand with us and work with us. And we know we can build even more people power to make that happen.
We’re making 2024 our year.