Dear Santa,

I think you must get this climate change stuff because it has complicated your work at the North Pole. As things get warmer and slushier year by year in the Arctic, your base of operations is melting under your feet. Given how resourceful and magical you are, you no doubt have come up with a Plan B to continue your work year-round. Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have your special abilities.

That being the case, I just wanted to lay out a list of presents you could give me and the many other good boys and girls (of all ages) who work to preserve a livable climate for everybody.

I know you know quite a few not so nice, fairly naughty grownups who keep us from stopping climate change. But please, whatever you do, don’t give lumps of coal to any of them. It’s true that they refuse to speed up clean energy adoption, and they lie about the seriousness of the climate crisis. They deserve to be on your naughty list, but lumps of coal will only give them more fuel for their destructive mischief!

Just to be clear: I — and my many friends at 350 Madison, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Middleton Sustainability Committee, Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors, Climate Stewards, Sierra Club, and other such organizations — are good kids. All of us know climate change is really happening, really serious, really human-caused, and we can still really do something about it.

Of course, most of us also know that even without climate change, it would still make excellent sense to clean up our energy system and eliminate pollution-emitting vehicles and fossil fuel–based energy. Clean energy reduces and ideally eliminates the greenhouse gases driving climate change. It also eliminates the many associated pollutants that harm the health and life of all exposed.

So, now that you have excellent reasons to put me on your nice list, let me give you my list of all I want for Christmas:

  • I want a livable climate for all! I know that might be too big a gift for this Christmas. If it is, then the following gifts on my list will help us build toward that one.
  • I want a price on carbon so that everybody will shift from dirty fossil fuel to clean renewable energy because it’s nicer, smarter, healthier, less destructive, and less expensive.
  • I want everybody to let their political leaders know that the climate crisis makes them sad, mad, and afraid because it is really serious, really happening, really human-caused, and our leaders are not doing enough fast enough to fix it.
  • I want neighborhoods, developments, and zoning that enable all of us, regardless of income, to get around. I want communities that support walking and biking as alternatives to personal cars.
  • I want efficient, electrified, fare-free transit that reduces the need for individual vehicles, reduces carbon emissions, and provides equitable transportation for all.
  • I want a transportation system that is no longer designed to build more highways, but instead recognizes the benefits of a robust multimodal approach. If you give us more highways, ironically and counterintuitively you’ll just be giving all of us more traffic congestion.
  • I want a green and clean utility grid so that we do more than just shift the location of greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources to fixed power plants. (Confirm with your elves the research showing that even with the current mix of energy sources in our electric grid, defossilizing everything in favor of electricity has significant and growing benefits in reducing pollution and climate change.)
  • I want a robust and well-planned electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure to be incentivized, funded, and developed. I want EV charging to bill by the kilowatt-hour, not just the connection time. I want creative siting of charging stations, allowing and encouraging existing facilities such as convenience stores and trailer parks to provide them.
  • I want clean alternatives for heavy-duty transport vehicles and construction equipment (e.g., semi-trailers and bulldozers). If not EV tech, I want non–fossil fuel alternatives such as renewable diesel, renewable natural gas, or even green hydrogen.
  • I want the biggest historic fossil fuel users and carbon pollution emitters, such as the United States, to go beyond net zero to net-negative carbon pollution. After all, since more of the global carbon pollution mess came from the US, equity demands that more of it should be eliminated and cleaned up by US.

Well, Santa, it’s already way past my bedtime, so I have to stop. Sorry this list is so long. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when business, government, and the institutions of society fail to address an existential threat in a timely way. People start appealing to mythic embodiments of holiday cheer, hope, goodwill, and generosity.

Sadly, I have lots more I still want and need. Maybe the other good kids out there reading this letter can help get the gifts on my list. Maybe they can talk to their friends, family, and political representatives to help make my wishes come true so you don’t have to do it all.

Merry Christmas, Santa!

Kermit Hovey (one of the good boys and girls)

P.S. Thanks for modeling your fossil-free delivery system!

Cartoon credit: Stink Pad