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Building from the ground up in a global pandemic: Introducing CCL Japan and India

(L-R) Kohei Noda, CCL Japan National Coordinator and Rituraj Phukan, CCL India National Coordinator

Building from the ground up in a global pandemic: Introducing CCL Japan and India

Jess Wilber

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of over 1.4 million people in the last year. It has ravaged public health systems, tanked the global economy, and left countless individuals without key resources and aid. Despite all of this devastation, the pandemic has opened up unique opportunities for civic engagement and driven thousands of people to act on pressing societal issues in ways they never have before. This is especially true for Japan and India, where CCL volunteers have built up a critical mass to inspire action on climate.

After taking a course titled “The Pathway to Reverse Global Warming,” from the Pachamama Alliance in May of this year, Kohei Noda was inspired to take action on climate. He wanted to start his own initiative to drive down carbon emissions and influence environmental policy across Japan. He began sitting in on local meetings for GAIA, Pachamama Alliance, and Drawdown Community to get a better understanding of the kind of work that was being done. That is when he met Cathy Orlando, CCL’s International Outreach Manager.

Kohei appreciated the democracy-centered approach that CCL has to climate advocacy. He was excited about the prospect of building respectful relationships with members of the local government and federal government. By June, he had formed a core team to launch CCL Tokyo. They hosted CCL’s Core Volunteer Training, Five Levers of Political Will, and Media Relations webinars and immediately set to work. 

The group began by building a large social media presence and hosting joint events with Greenpeace, 350, and Climate Action Network chapters across Japan. They then leveraged these new connections to begin meeting with members of the Japanese Parliament’s Lower House in July, demanding a federal commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.

Japan has recently made a commitment to become net zero by and implement carbon pricing legislation by 2050. CCL Tokyo will continue to coordinate meetings with local government leaders and parliamentarians to ensure the Japanese government adopts effective climate policies to meet this goal. Meanwhile, the group is developing a website and translating key resources on carbon pricing, CCL’s mission, and other climate news. They also plan to put pressure on their government to make climate a major priority in the upcoming G7 and COP26 summits in 2021.

Further west, CCL is exploding across India. There are currently active chapters in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Guwahati, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. With eight more chapters in progress, it has quickly become CCL International’s fastest growing division. CCL India is taking a holistic view of the climate crisis linking to water and biodiversity. Working toward carbon pricing with India-specific material, they are educating politicians and the public about carbon fee and dividend. Each group hopes to leverage CCL’s resources to give their government the best possible information on implementing effective carbon pricing strategies and reducing carbon emissions.

“The climate crisis is manifest in India’s worst-ever water crisis, cycles of heatwaves, storms and floods, and yet the urgency of action is missing,” CCL India National Coordinator, Rituraj Phukan, said. “We look forward to mobilizing political opinions by engaging with current and future leaders across the country.”

In the U.S., we often say that CCL’s solution to climate change is democracy. With India onboard, we now have the world’s largest democracy mobilizing to build political will for carbon pricing and other science based climate policies. We are moving closer to becoming the go-to democratic group for countries to learn about and implement carbon pricing.

Jess Wilber is a recent graduate of Oberlin College, where she majored in Environmental Studies & East Asian Studies and founded the CCL Oberlin College Chapter. In addition to serving as the International Outreach Intern and Great Lakes Community Representative, she is a contributor to CCL’s Youth Blog Writing Team.