Sustainable Development

1Sky and 350.org: Stronger as One

By Jessica Bailey

This month marked the exciting marriage of 1Sky and 350.org—two grantees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Sustainable Development program. The announcement comes as environmental policy is hitting a new low in Washington: the House of Representatives just voted to deny the science of climate change; the recently passed federal budget cuts climate change-related programs by $49 million (including a ban on funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Service); the White House has opened up wide areas of the West for coal mining; and the environmental community is being forced to put everything it’s got into protecting the Clean Air Act—a bill passed decades ago! These are challenging times for those of us working to advance solutions to climate change.

Despite the news coming from Washington, the announcement to merge 1Sky and 350.org—two of the biggest movements on climate—into a single organization under the banner of 350.org, gives me hope that we just might build a people-powered movement strong enough to protect this planet. 1Sky and 350.org were born around the same time and involved many of the same leaders. Bill McKibben, who has been a 1Sky board member and will chair the new 350.org board, once referred to 1Sky as the U.S. Embassy for 350.org and 350.org as 1Sky’s foreign legion. 1Sky was founded to support ambitious environmental action in the United States that would keep emissions targets to scientifically defendable levels, stop new coal-fired power plants, and build a green economy strong enough to create five million new green jobs. 350.org was founded to embed the concept of a wonky carbon emissions concept (350 ppm is the level of emissions in the atmosphere that scientists believe is safe) into the international negotiations in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit. While 1Sky didn’t deliver bold national policy and 350.org didn’t deliver a global treaty, both organizations have made significant progress in widening the tent of grassroots support for climate action. With the new political reality, it makes all the sense in the world to bring them together. Matching 350.org’s talent for mass mobilization and online action with 1Sky’s advocacy and field campaign experience is tremendously exciting. Mergers are tough, and I applaud the leaders in both organizations for recognizing they’d be stronger together.

The new 350.org has an aggressive plan to mobilize millions of people in a tech-savvy, citizen-driven movement that can finally build the support necessary for real climate action. The good news is they have a solid running start. The new campaign will have over 600,000 active supporters, thousands of volunteer community organizers in every state, and hundreds of partner organizations.

Let’s hope this happy union gives the climate movement the jumpstart it needs to compel our country to act on climate change before it’s too late.