Warheads to Windmills Campaign on a State/ Local level:
- Encouraging local climate and anti-nuclear weapons campaigns to join national, state and/or local Warheads to Windmills Coalitions and to encourage others in their networks to join those coalitions.
- Calling on the President to sign the TPNW and to support negotiations for a Fossil Fuel Treaty.
- Calling on state, county and municipal governments to divest from both fossil fuels and nuclear weapons, to boycott their products and publicly shame them until such time as they agree to support the abolition of nuclear weapons and fossil fuels.
- Calling on local and state organizations and institutions to divest from both fossil fuels and nuclear weapons, to boycott their products, and to publicly shame them until such time as they agree to support the abolition of nuclear weapons and fossil fuels.
Focusing on corporations a state or local level is easier than at the national level. There are many more state and local organizations and institutions of all kinds that can be urged to divest, boycott, and stigmatize, and getting them involved is hugely important.
In 2018, California became the first state to pass sweeping climate legislation with Senate Bill 100. This paved the way for subsequent legislation and executive action by the Governor that is moving California towards a carbon-free future. The state has joined the international coalition to phase out fossil fuels, but has not yet committed to divesting state funds from the fossil fuel industry.
Also in 2018, the California state legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution 33, calling on the US to “embrace” the Nuclear Ban Treaty and make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy. This was the first commitment to the TPNW by a state. It was followed by New Jersey General Assembly Resolution 230 in May 2019, which calls on the US to “ratify” the Nuclear Ban Treaty. Similar resolutions have since been passed by one or more chambers in Maine, Oregon and Rhode Island as a result of campaigning efforts of the Back from the Brink campaign.
Massachusetts has passed pioneering climate legislation. In 2021, it set up a roadmap for reaching state decarbonization targets. In 2022 it passed the Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2050, which provides incentives for massive development of offshore wind energy, investments in public transit, regulations to end the sales of gas-powered cars, and other measures to help the state move to a fossil-free future.
But no such luck so far on nuclear issues. Despite a large number of nuclear weapons-related bills that have been introduced over recent years, Massachusetts has been unable to pass even the Back from the Brink resolution. In an effort to get things moving in Massachusetts, campaigners have proposed a Nuclear Weapons and Climate Commission to look into what the state could do to address these twin existential threats and to report back to the state house with recommendations for future legislation.
Other states have taken various steps on climate but fall short of divestment or legally binding measures to end reliance on fossil fuels. And very few have taken any steps at all on the nuclear weapons issue.
Town and city governments
It’s great when small towns express themselves by passing resolutions. But it’s even more powerful when municipalities enact ordinances divesting from the offending companies and refusing contracts with them, since these are legally binding and hugely powerful (see Chapter 17).
Organizations and institutions
Governments large and small have the authority of being democratically accountable to the population they represent. But there are also important roles for organizations and institutions like faith communities, colleges, workplaces, labor unions, medical facilities, political groups, civic organizations, associations, and other groups. They can publicly shame the companies and publicly divest their assets. Crucially, they can combine divestment with boycotting: they can stop buying products from complicit companies and behaving like loyal customers.
For example, faith communities with property can begin by carefully examining all the ways that they may be complicit with the very things they are morally opposed to. Are they purchasing gas from a company on the boycott list (see Table 17.3) to heat their buildings, provide hot water, or gas for cooking? Are they purchasing electricity generated from fossil fuels? Do they own any vehicles or other equipment running on gas or diesel? Do they have thermostats produced under license from Honeywell (a nuclear weapons contractor)? Do they have any other equipment or use any other services that may be connected to a nuclear weapons contractor?
It is especially important for faith communities concerned about fossil fuels and nuclear weapons to write to those companies involved and express their concerns. Their PR departments are listening! They can also share those concerns with other faith communities as well as with the public through local media.
It was argued in chapter 4 that taking little steps to reduce one’s carbon footprint is good but not enough, because solving these problems requires action on the national and international scale. However, there is another reason for putting solar panels on the church roof or a heat pump in the church basement. These are not simply steps at the very local level to help reduce global carbon emissions. These are powerful messages to the fossil fuel industry that they must change their ways or go out of business.