Climate is on the Ballot this November
by Morgan King, climate campaign coordinator
In September and October, the West Virginia Climate Alliance and partners hosted the first candidate forums in West Virginia history focused entirely on climate change themes. The forums held in Huntington, Morgantown, and Institute fittingly took place at three of the largest public universities in our state, Marshall University, West Virginia University, and West Virginia State University, respectively. Community members and students, alike, came out to learn the priorities of their candidates and ask questions about how the candidates will advance a livable future for all West Virginians.
Voters could submit questions in advance online, and in-person attendees had the opportunity to submit written questions. The forums included questions like how to develop a clean energy economy, attract new job opportunities for coal community transition, remediate damaged and polluted land, address climate impacts like flooding, and promote environmental justice for all, among many other topics. It became clear that climate change is a concern to voters that candidates must be prepared to address if elected to office.
You can watch recordings from the forums!
There is something powerful about engaging communities and college campuses in discussions about our collective future. Bridging our youth and elders and everyone in between, we stand to learn a lot from one another on mitigating and adapting to climate change. That makes me hopeful for a future that can often seem uncertain in our state. Election season can often feel overwhelming and exhausting, but it is also a chance for new voices to be heard that can shape the next couple years in our federal and state representation.
While legislative action on climate change is not the only way to make a difference in reducing global warming and supporting those harmed by pollution, it is one of the most impactful. As voters, we can influence who represents us in making and taking that legislative action on climate change.
Climate is on the ballot at every level. From your local races to state and federal elections, climate change affects every facet of government. Our government must address climate questions daily. Is the stormwater infrastructure resilient enough to support more frequent and intense floods, and can the electrical grid handle more severe heat waves or storms? What measures will be taken to protect homes and businesses during these weather events, and if disaster strikes, how prepared are we to support impacted communities? Will a new permit or contract have detrimental ecological, environmental, or public health impacts? How can improved zoning, housing options, energy efficiency measures, and green spaces improve the quality of living for residents and reduce emissions? Can more accessible healthcare better serve communities that experience cumulative health impacts from local pollution? These are just a few of the topics a state legislator, congressional representative, county commissioner, or city councilor might think about in their work.
That’s why I’m a climate voter, and I hope you will be, too. In the meantime be sure to take the WV Climate Pledge to stay updated on opportunities to advocate for climate solutions that center science, nature, and justice.
P.S. If you want one of these cool yard signs, we have a few left. Let us know and we will try to get you one!