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Rotary Climate Action Team

Start your Rotary Climate Action Team!

To tackle climate change, start with love, recruit a ready team, then equip them with knowledge and hope.  Alan Anderson’s made that his quest since retiring in 2012 from a career as an executive with the Boy Scouts. 

“Since I became a Boy Scout as a kid, I learned to love nature, to care for it and want to keep it clean,” he says.  The climate crisis became his top priority after he heard a NOAA scientist describe its deadly impact on the world’s oceans during a conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, USA. Al’s communication strategy focuses on those who are already concerned.  “A growing majority of people are uneasy about climate change.  If they agree that it’s caused by rising CO2 levels generated by us, my goal is to explain the science at a deeper level and give them things they can do,” he says.  

Al belongs to a vibrant Rotary club in the town of Northfield, Minnesota (pop. 15,000), the home of Carlton College and St. Olaf College. He organized a Rotary Climate Action Team  (RCAT) in his club and invited them to read A Farewell to Ice, “a climate scientist’s book which moved them to a sense of urgency more effectively than I ever could by providing the evidence that there won’t be any place to hide.” The group has already grown to 18 members “including bankers, college vice presidents, and the CEO of a local hospital.”

“As a group, our first job is to educate other members of our club,” Al continues. He puts out a monthly climate newsletter, “including good news, such as the fact that our state’s largest utility, Excel, will be producing 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.  

“We also give them a handout with a number of things they can do, from a home energy audit to calling their elected officials (whatever party they belong to), thanking them for something they are doing that the constituent approves of, and asking them to act on climate change.”  
Al’s top priority for American voters is to explain the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763), a bipartisan carbon fee and dividend bill with 75 sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Click here for an overview and impact analysis of the bill. 

Step Two is to speak at District Conference and invite other clubs to organize RCATs of their own.  At least 20 have been launched already.

Step Three is the “top 25 effort:” the Northfield RCAT sent its materials to the 25 largest Rotary Clubs in the United States. “The response has been pretty quiet,” Al says with a rueful chuckle, but at the end of September the San Francisco Rotary Club wrote back to say they like Northfield RCAT’s approach and are using their materials. “A club in Sri Lanka wants more information and has asked about our projects,” Al adds.

Step Four is a visible local project.  Northfield Rotary, with only 150 members, contributed $21,000 and teamed up with the city of Northfield to install three electric vehicle charging stations which proudly wear the Rotary emblem.  “In Minnesota, our governor is trying to promote the use of electric vehicles, but there are not enough charging stations yet.  There are electric wires underground everywhere,” Al points out, “it’s just a matter of finding a business that wants to put one in.” Each charging station costs $10,000-$15,000 and becomes a visible, permanent commitment to more sustainable transportation.

The lifelong Scout concludes with a powerful call to action: “We’d like to get Rotary to raise this as a priority because all our other efforts are in danger of being reversed and spoiled by climate change.”

Project Category: 
Transportation - clean
Sustainable economies
Renew, recycle, reuse
Carbon-neutrality
Energy - renewable
Agriculture - sustainable