The Rochester People’s Climate Coalition (RPCC) is a left-center nonprofit that has a network of local organizations that work to advocate for climate change awareness and other environmentalist issues. The organization advocates for climate change legislation such as the Green New Deal and other legislative movements in New York and around the United states. RPCC was founded in 2014 before the People’s Climate March, and has grown larger since, now consisting of over 50 left-of-center and liberal organizations which advocate for similar issues. It received tax exempt status in 2017.
Rochester Climate Strike
The Rochester Climate Strike was an event organized by multiple environmentalist organizations which aimed to make broad statements regarding climate activism. The event coincided with the 2019 Climate Action Summit of the United Nations held in New York City in September of 2019. The strike involved other organizations from the New York area such as the University of Rochester, Metro Justice, and the Pachamama Alliance, a left-of-center environmentalist organization. The event, which took the shape of a march more than a strike, had speakers teach a crowd about what they believed could be the consequences of climate change. RPCC organized the march and called for carbon neutrality by 2027, opposing the plan of the state to be carbon neutral by 2050. 2
Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Bill
The Rochester People’s Climate Coalition lobbied for and was in strong support of the “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” one of the most aggressive environmentalist legislative pieces passed in the country. The act will require New York State to be “carbon-neutral” in just over 30 years, effectively outlawing conventional energy sources such as coal, gasoline, and natural gas. McHugh-Grifa, executive director for the RPCC, said that the bill would bolster economic opportunity in New York despite its impending destruction of countless industries in the state. 3
RPCC is made up of a network of left-leaning and liberal organizations which generally align with the organization’s stance on climate change. While many of the entities listed as members are small local businesses and affiliate organizations, there are some larger national entities. One of these member organizations is Sierra Club, one of the largest environmentalist organizations on the country. Also listed is the League of Women Voters, a left-of-center organization which advocates on a number of issues, including electoral policy and environmentalism.4
Board of Directors and Staff
Akilah Banister is a member of the board of directors for RPCC. Outside of her work for the organization, she works in disaster preparedness for Columbia University and as a disaster preparedness program director for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
John Keevert is the treasurer for RPCC. He also works as a co-chair for social justice ministry for the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY. The First Unitarian Church advocates for left-of-center and liberal policy in race relations, immigration, and labor legislation. Keevert also works as a treasurer for Metro Justice, a left-of-center organization which advocates for issues regarding labor policy, health care, and environmental issues. 5 6
Linda Isaacson Fedele is a member of the board for RPCC. She has worked for multiple left-of-center environmentalist organizations and for RPCC since its inception. Isaacson Fedele previously worked as a chairwoman for the New York chapter of the Sierra Club, as a software engineer, and as a social worker. 7
Abigail McHugh-Grifa is the executive director for RPCC. McHugh-Grifa has a background in music education but left the field to focus on environmental activism. 8
Guidestar.com reports RPCC as having gross receipts of $90,433 and total assets of $42,307. Having filed for non-profit status quite recently in 2017, annual tax returns were not available as of November 2019.9 “Rochester People’s Climate Coalition.” Guidestar.org. Accessed November 2, 2019.
- “Climate Strikes Come to Rochester.” Jeremy Moule. Rochester City Newspaper. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/climate-strikes-come-to-rochester/Content?oid=10831039.
New York State Rate Case
Rochester People’s Climate Coalition participates annually in the New York State “rate case,” a legal proceeding in which utility companies seeking to raise rates must take part. RPCC is one of multiple environmentalist organizations which attempts to sway spent funds towards projects which it claims will slow the consequences of climate change. RPCC also calls for a price cap on utilities in the state to prevent private providers from annually increasing rates for their customers. The organization claims that to be doing so in order to draw attention to “greener” and more affordable energy solutions. 1 “RG&E rate case public hearing.” RPCC. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://rocpcc.org/2019/07/22/rge-rate-case-public-hearing/.
- “The most aggressive climate plan in the nation to be approved in New York.” James Gilbert, Rochester First. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://www.rochesterfirst.com/news/local-news/the-most-aggressive-climate-plan-in-the-nation-to-be-approved-in-new-york/.
- “Member Organizations.” RPCC. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://rocpcc.org/rpcc-member-organizations/.
- “About Us.” Metro Justice. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://www.metrojustice.org/.
- “John Keevert” Rochester People’s Climate Coalition. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://rocpcc.org/about-us/leadership-team/.
- “Linda Isaacson Fedele,” Rochester People’s Climate Coalition. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://rocpcc.org/about-us/leadership-team/
- “Abigail McHugh-Grifa,” Rochester People’s Climate Coalition. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://rocpcc.org/about-us/leadership-team/