Rural Climate Network Meeting Notes

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rural Climate Policy Meeting Notes

Monday December 15th and Tuesday December 16th 2014


Meeting goals:

1. Build a shared understanding of U.S. and international climate policy context.

2. Identify climate policy priorities for rural communities. Embed rural climate policy and organizing efforts in larger rural movements.

3. Leave the meeting with agreed-upon next steps for advancing rural climate priorities.


Meeting participants:

·Tara Ritter – Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

·Whitney Kimball Coe – Center for Rural Strategies

·Kyle Bozentko – Jefferson Center

·Aaron Kinsman – Rodale Institute

·Carina Barnett-Loro – Union of Concerned Scientists

·Jeremy Richardson – Union of Concerned Scientists

·Jim Kleinschmit – Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

·Jeff Goebel – board member of Soil Carbon Coalition

·Colin Donohue – National Network of Forest Practitioners

·Kathy Ozer – National Family Farm Coalition

·Jonathan Reinbold – CROPP Cooperative and Organic Valley

·Jessie Stolark – Energy and Environment Study Institute

·Matt Piccarello – Forest Guild

·Frank Estrada – city council of Lockhart, TX

·Sarah Schumann – Fish Locally Collaborative

·Greg Fogel – National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

·James Robinson – RAFI-USA

·Lauren Faccinto – intern at National Family Farm Coalition

·Alicia Harvie – Farm Aid

·Juliette Majot – Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

·Lorette Picciano – Rural Coalition

·Edyael Casaperalta – Public Knowledge

·Renata Brillinger – California Climate and Agriculture Network

·Karen Hansen Kuhn – Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

·Andy Roszak – National Association of City and County Health Officials

·Lisa Brown – National Association of City and County Health Officials

·Wes Gillingham – Catskill Mountainkeeper

·Anna Lucas – Western Organization of Resource Councils

·Julia Wilber – interning at Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

·Megan McConville – National Association of Development Organizations


The two-day Rural Climate Network policy meeting brought together 30 individuals representing 23 organizations in Washington, D.C. on December 15-16, 2014.  The main goal of the meeting was to create a shared understanding around what is happening with climate change and climate policies in the U.S. and internationally, and to catalyze a proactive and united rural policy and on-the-ground response.  To achieve that broader goal, we determined that it was important to work together to build a rural climate policy platform that identifies specific rural areas of concern and opportunity associated with climate change impacts and policy, conveys rural support for effective climate change policies and actions, and promotes a shared and broad set of policy proposals that engage and benefit rural communities and economies. To make that policy active and responsive to rural community needs, we also focused on ways rural organizations can work together to connect climate concerns with other key rural priorities and advance solutions that address multiple problems. 

The first day of the meeting focused on establishing the climate policy context. Lorette Picciano of Rural Coalition, through a “tour” of the Rural Coalition members and concerns, led a conversation about inclusion and framing to ensure that our efforts do not leave out any rural communities or constituents, especially those disproportionately impacted by climate change, disasters, and land loss. The next set of speakers brought together perspectives on international climate policy, the Clean Power Plan in the U.S., and the California climate policies to provide participants with critical information on the state of climate policy today (both existing and proposed), and to surface some of the challenges and opportunities that exist in these programs. Day one finished with a group discussion on shared values, principles, and priorities. Local ownership and authentically engaging communities rose up as two of the most-repeated values to carry through our work.

The second day focused on strategies and approaches for working with rural communities on climate related development and policies, discussion of some of the specific rural climate issues, and how to move forward with effective policy and rural organizing as a network. Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, Jeremy Richardson of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Jeff Goebel of the Soil Carbon Coalition discussed different types of ”people” centered climate projects that have occurred across the country and internationally. While undertaken at different scales and levels of intensity, all of these efforts started from a perspective of community and individual empowerment in developing responses to climate challenges at the farm, community and regional levels. That discussion was followed by a panel focused on the issues of broadband, fisheries, and soil that illustrated some of the unique challenges that rural communities are facing associated with climate change.

The meeting concluded with a feedback and strategy discussion centered on how to move forward on the identified priorities and recommendations, based on organizational capacity, existing and potential resources, and climate policy timing.  Specific next steps identified include support for further development of the Rural Climate Policy Platform that lays out both core rural principles and specific rural policy recommendations, the need for unified messaging, coordinated calendars, and reaching out to key organizations and demographics that were not represented at the meeting. In the early part of 2015, there will be coordinated work to finalize the policy platform and share it with current and potential rural partners.